Awa odori is a traditional dance that originates from Tokushima Prefecture in Shikoku. Koenji Awa Odori takes place around a station on the western side of Tokyo (very far from Shikoku).
In 1957, Koenji started a youth organization to promote local stores. The group decided that they would need to start some sort of attraction that would draw visitors to the Koenji area. They decided that they would try their hand at awa odori. And to conjure the spirit of Koenji into their festival name, the inhabitants of Koenji decided to name their new festival, “Koenji Baka Odori” (lit. Koenji’s Dance of Idiots). They continued their “dance of idiots” while recruiting trained awa odori dancers to help them improve their technique. 6 years later they changed the name to “Koenji Awa Odori” and became an awa odori that was above idiots dancing.
Nowadays you can go to the festival and experience a seemingly never-ending parade of teams of dancers. These dancers come from all over Japan to compete in the festival and see who the best dance team is.
If you happen to be in Tokyo at the end of August, this is a festival worth checking out.
I went this year and was pleasantly surprised how entertaining it was.