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Dance, Culture, and Lanterns: Experiencing the Magic of Bon Odori in Tokyo



2023.08.24 (Thu)

By Dan Lewis, inbound tourism advisor and consultant, long-term Japan resident & outdoor activity enthusiast.

As the summer nights begin to cool, Japan comes alive with the captivating celebration of Bon Odori. Held all over the country, this enchanting event brings people together in harmony, celebrating not only the end of summer but also the rich tapestry of Japanese culture. In the heart of Asakusa, a district in Tokyo, you can join in the festivities, immersing yourself in the joyous atmosphere of Bon Odori.
The highlight of the festival is undoubtedly the dancing. Everyone, locals and tourists alike, takes to the streets to dance with exuberance and delight. The event offers a diverse repertoire of traditional songs like "Tokyo Ondo," "Tankobushi," and "Shichifukujin Ondo," among others. But it's not just about watching; it's about participating. So, don your yukata, a traditional Japanese summer garment, and join the spirited dance with the locals. You'll find yourself swept up in the rhythm and energy, feeling the strong sense of community that Bon Odori fosters.
While the dance is the heart of the festival, there's more to delight in. Musical performances by live bands add to the festive ambiance, infusing the air with even more excitement. As the sun sets, the warm glow of "picture lanterns" illuminates the surroundings, creating a magical setting for the festivities. These picture lanterns, Japan's unique candlelight art form, come all the way from Yuzawa City, Akita Prefecture, just for this special occasion.
Another exciting aspect of the festival is the fun raffle, where shoppers and diners can win exciting prizes through lucky draws. Be sure to grab your lottery tickets early, as they are limited. The raffle will take place on two days, September 8th and 9th, from noon to 8:00 PM.
For those wanting to embrace the full cultural experience, Asakusa offers several stores where you can rent yukata for the day. These shops provide a range of yukata options, each with unique styles and designs. Wearing a yukata not only adds to the festivity but also connects you to a cherished part of Japanese heritage. Plus, it allows you to both be part of the lively atmosphere and take a leisurely stroll through Asakusa's picturesque streets in beautiful traditional attire.
So, put on your dancing shoes and shimmy on over to Asakusa on September 8th and 9th to partake in the mesmerizing Bon Odori Festival. Dance, listen, watch, and experience the spirit of Japan as you create memories that will last a lifetime. Join the locals in celebrating the end of summer in a joyous and vibrant cultural extravaganza. Don't miss the chance to immerse yourself in the magic of Bon Odori and create unforgettable moments in the heart of Tokyo's Asakusa district.

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