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Dancin’ Like Fools

Do you remember the ‘Bon-odori' dance festival I told you about a couple of weeks ago? About honoring the ancestors and dancing like a fool with strangers and all that? If you don't know what I am talking about and/or you think I have finally succumbed to Tokyo's summer heat, you can click here for a more thorough explanation.

Basically, we went, we danced, and had a fantastic time participating in this modern, comical take on a very traditional custom.

One of the highlights of the night was when some foreigners stumbled upon the event, not sure what was going on. One of the dancers on stage asked “Do you speak England?” We couldn't hear/see their response but we assume they confirmed this because the next thing he said was “OK, let's dance together!” And that's the spirit of the Bon-odori! As they say, “You’re a fool if you dance, and a fool if you just look on. If you’re going to be a fool anyway, you might as well dance!”

Three years on, this is still the best event in Tokyo! A big claim I know, but I'm sticking with it. It's high energy, fun and unlike any other event around.

Some feedback from friends experiencing it for the first time this year:

“Thanks again for inviting!! Really happy, funny and stupid! One of the events that I most enjoyed!”

“It was very, very funny bon odori festival, maybe the most unique one in my life so far ;) Thanks for sharing this beautiful night!!!!!!”

Here's some of our foolishness caught on camera…

New Bon Odori, Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Japan

Onigiri (riceball) man - I remember him from this event three years ago. Seems he comes every year with his onigiri head.

Onigiri (riceball) man – I remember him from this event three years ago. Seems he comes every year with his onigiri head.

New Bon Odori, Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Japan

Musical performance during the interlude. Even the songs were comical.

Musical performance during the interlude. Even the songs were comical.

New Bon Odori, Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Japan

New Bon Odori, Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Japan

New Bon Odori, Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Japan

New Bon Odori, Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Japan

A member of the Condors dance troupe displays his flexibility on the central stage.

New Bon Odori, Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Japan

If you have kids, they'll love this event.

New Bon Odori, Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Japan

New Bon Odori, Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Japan

New Bon Odori, Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Japan

New Bon Odori, Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Japan

New Bon Odori, Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Japan

Posing...

Posing…

Do you remember my friend from last time? He doesn't have pink hair anymore!

Do you remember my friend from last time? He doesn't have pink hair anymore!

Next summer, check out the Owl Spot website for details on this must-experience event. There is limited information in English but unfortunately details of this year's Bon-odori were in Japanese only. Good news is though, it was very obvious on the site – on the rolling banner at the top of the homepage. Look out for the red and white stripes associated with the event and these characters にゅ~盆踊り. Even if you can't read Japanese, you should be able to pick out the date/time as they are written numerically. Japanese dates are written like this: 7月29日 (the first character being ‘month' and the second ‘day' i.e. July 29th). Location is currently Ikebukuro West Gate Park (池袋西口公園 Ikebukuro Nishi-guchi Kōen). Click here for directions from Ikebukuro Station.

**2017 Dates**

Saturday, 15 July and Sunday, 16 July 2017, 17:30~

Location: Ikebukuro West Gate Park

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If you're going to be a fool anyway, you might as well dance! - Notes of Nomads

Wednesday 30th of July 2014

[…] My foolishness with friends caught on camera. View more photos from the festival here. […]

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Wednesday 5th of September 2012

Hi Jessica, found out about your blog through 101 Holidays. What a fun event! It's something I'd like to experience myself. Really nice post and photographs.

Best travel blog posts: How to dance like a fool « 101 Holidays blog

Monday 3rd of September 2012

[...] Tokyo’s modern take on this ancient tradition looks great fun and I’m sure I’d really love Dancing Like a Fool. The saying goes “You’re a fool if you dance, and a fool if you just look on. If you’re going [...]

Tisha

Monday 27th of August 2012

Ha! How fun.. sounds like something I would love!

Great pics too!

Ashley Løseth

Friday 3rd of August 2012

Looks like so much fun ^-^

Jessica Korteman

Tuesday 7th of August 2012

It was a great night! If you get the chance, you should definitely go. Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and comment, Ashley!

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