Photo: Iwate Prefecture/©JNTO

Morioka Sansa Odori Festival: Dance with locals in world’s largest taiko drumming party


Northern Japan’s Morioka Sansa Odori is the largest taiko drum festival in the world. That’s a title assured by the Guinness World Records and the 230 groups — with over 10,000 competitive performers — who compete yearly to claim the title of best performance.

The festival is held in Morioka City, the capital of Iwate Prefecture, every Aug 1-4. This northern Japanese region makes the most of its short summers with intense festivals. Combining an infectious energy with the drama of taiko performances and dancers, the festival invites tourists to learn the moves and join in.

Dance with the locals at Morioka Sansa Odori. Photo: Ville Misaki

The tale goes that a kami (god) punished an oni (ogre) for terrorizing the people. The oni was forced to leave the people alone. This promise was symbolized by stamping his hand on a rock at Mitsuishi Shrine, a rock which can be seen today. The locals rejoiced by dancing around the rock and this is thought to be the moment from which the Morioka Sansa Odori Festival was born. As Iwate literally means “rock hand,” it is also believed that this is where the prefecture’s name originates from.

How to dance at Morioka Sansa Odori

Morioka Sansa Odori is more than just watching a performance, it’s an invitation to join in. Head to Iwate-ken Kokaido Grand Hall (next to Iwate Prefectural Building (Map)) at 5 p.m., every day of the festival, for a 45-minute lesson in one of the local dance routines.

Click here to read more.

© GaijinPot Travel

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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