Morioka, the capital of Iwate Prefecture, is located at the middle part of inland Iwate Prefecture in Tohoku Region, about 450 kilometers north of Tokyo. The city area is blessed with scenic beauties created by Mount Iwate and some of nice rivers.
Morioka Sansa Odori (Dance) Festival is one of the typical example of summer festivals held in Tohoku region. It had previously been held from August 1st to 3rd, but in recent years it has been a four-day festival which is held from August 1st to 4th.
Morioka Sansa Odori is a local dance dating back as old as Edo period(1603-1868) when it was governed by Morioka Domain. Long time ago the villages of the domain were vandalized by the demons. The villagers prayed for the shrine to ward off the demons. Shrine deities granted their wishes and the gods ordered demons to print their hands on the huge rock to declare they would never do harm or damage the villages no more. So rejoiced were the villagers, that they danced around the rock with "sansa sansa" sound. These local dances have grown into what it is today.
Since Sansa Odori has been handed down separately district by district around the towns in and around Morioka, each district has its own style of dances and attires. Such varieties make the festival parade much more fascinating to watch. To find out about the wide variety of Sansa dances don't miss Sansa dance competition event to be held at Morioka Civic Cultural Hall in Marios Building and Taki no Hiroba at the west exit side of Morioka Station.
The festival starts with the sound of the smoke signal notifying that the Sansa Odori parade is about to start. In fact the parade features the beating of Japanese taiko drums registered by Guiness Book of Records as "The Largest Taiko Drum Festival In The World" in 2007. These beats of the tens of thousands of taiko drums are not only the "largest number of beats recorded simultaneously" but they vibrate the bodies not only of the dancers but of the audiences. Given such sensation you will definitely realize how great Japanese festivals really are.
When you visit Morioka to see the festival, why not join the dances with the locals?
After finishing the parades during the festival on August 1-4, people dance in the circle just as in bon festival dance in a number of places at the festival sites. Local people are kind enough to teach you how to dance in sansa style. To find out the details, please see the following URL.
With request you can also practice during festival days and participate the festival parade as well. To apply for joining the parade please write about "the date of your participation", "Names of the participants" and "the contact information (cellular phone number) of the person to represent the group" and e-mail us to firstname.lastname@example.org. Each day the first fifty lucky people can be a part of the parade. So if you want to join it, don't hesitate! And all of the events are free of charge to participate!
Morioka Sansa Odori Festival
Tel: 019-624-5880 Fax: 019-654-1588