How Did I Become a Dancing Champion in Japan?

Okay, I may be exaggerating here saying “champion” but I had one of the best feelings ever when I won a prize for something first time in my life and celebrated it with bunch of strangers. Like rest of our trip, we didn’t quite know which city we were heading next. We only knew that we were going to Shikoku Island. We decided to travel to this small city named Tokushima on Shikoku. Figuring out what to do in Tokushima and with the help of the tourist information center, we planned to see the Naruta whirlpools and for the evening, we were going to see this dance show called Awa Odori at a museum in town. After traveling almost a half day for the whirlpools, we returned with disappointment cause we were unlucky to see them, but we were happy that we are about to see something very traditional and unique.

Awa Odori is a traditional Japanese folk dance and it’s held as a huge festival every August in Tokushima, which is Japan’s one of the most popular and famous festivals. If you can’t make it to the festival, you can watch this dance performance at Awa-Odori Kaikan Hall in Tokushima and that’s what we did.

My boyfriend knew the details of the show, he said “this is an interactive show you know, you have to get up and dance on the stage later”. I never believe him in such things like that since he likes to fool me. Sitting at this small theatre with 20 other guests, I was totally unaware what was going to happen.

The show started, dancers performed numerous of dances for 40 minutes, it certanly is different, fun and interesting along with the enjoyable sound of Japanese folk music. By the end of the performance, the dance group leader asked for volunteers come on stage, so my boyfriend pushes me to the stage and there was no point of resisting him because like in two seconds, all the audience ended up on stage together and as we were the only foreigners, they wanted us to join them.

As long as I’m not the only person on stage, I have no problems with dancing, surrounded by other people. The dancers showed us the dance moves, it’s really an easy one and we practiced the moves together. Then everybody started dancing in a circle, Awa-Odori dancers spreaded in the crowd and danced with us along with the music. As soon as I saw a few dancers putting white flower necklaces to other people, a girl from the dancers came up to me and said “you are the winner” and gave me a red flower necklace. While I was shocked and happy to hear that I am the winner of this dancing practice, I went quickly to my boyfriend and told him what was going on. He was so surprised and jealous of the situation, he also wanted to win one of the flowers, he quickly corrected his dance moves and tried to do a better dance. Unfortunately he wouldn’t get one but he was happy enough for me and let met be the star of the night 🙂

Anyway let’s get back to the story. Once they gave away all the flowers, the rest of the people went to their seats and we, the winners stayed on stage. I was the only non-Japanese among the winners. A lady from the music band immediately came to me and told me what was going on. I was the winner of the winners. She was the nicest person as can be, informed me that there will be an award ceremony, then I have to perform my dance on my own. At this point, I was totally terrified and shy to dance in front of all the people.

The leader of the dance group came up and started the ceremony. He first handed over the gifts of other winners which is a harumaki cloth to tie around the head. Then he asked me to stand in front of him and he started giving a speech, as my translator translated me the whole speech, my heart is pounding so hard, all I think about is dancing on my own after this and how can I get away with it. He gave me the special prizes and now, time has come to final grand performance. Thankfully they asked all the winners to dance, so we danced together for the last time and the show ended. I’m not gonna tell what were the prizes, maybe you will win the grand prizes some day. One thing I can tell you that you will be bringing home the most special souviners and wonderful memories of a lifetime. That’s why we travel for, right? Don’t forget to get a photo with the dance group at the exit.

This show is at 8pm with a fee of 800 Yen. Other shows are at 2pm3pm and 4pm daily for 600 Yen.

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