The photographic blog of Sean Wood (aka motionid)

Kyōdō Awa Odori

Awa Odori at Kyōdō in Tokyo. It's a small, local event with a great local atmosphere. This is used by the team (Tensyouren) to practice for the event in Koenji at the end of August. It's also a chance for new members to experience what it's like to perform in front of a crowd. I tagged along for the event in an unofficial capacity which limited my access but it was worth the effort. Driving there for the first time was more of an ordeal than dodging rain and people while shooting. Google maps just does not work right now and the trip to and from the event took way longer than expected. 

hmmm. Guess I should add something about the pictures - shot a load. This is a super quick edit. Mixed white balance because I am lazy and processed in VSCO film using the tried and true Provia 400x - which is my favorite film in the real world also (I heard they stopped making the 120 version. crap!!).

Koenji Awa Odori 2013

Where to begin!?
Yes, it’s a LOAD of pictures. But I guess when you’ve been trying to edit 9000 pictures down to around 1700 and tweak the white balance and colour for each, they start to grow on you. What has inspired me more than anything are the smiles in all the pictures. This team are a happy bunch and it makes life a LOT easier to edit 9000 smiles.

So every year for the past 5 years or so I have been the photographer for the Tensyouren team. This basically makes me a member of the team which requires me to be where the team is to document the two days the event runs.

Part of the requirement is to make sure that everyone’s picture gets taken both days. When you have 110 members that’s not easy. Especially when they are waving their hands all over the place the entire time :-)

With so many people to shoot and each group having their own little routine I need to work my way up and down the whole team several times during one session ensuring I capture each group. This requires I duck and weave my way through the team as they dance past and then rush back up past them to catch them and do it all over again. This is straight forward on wide streets but really difficult on the narrow streets.

Then there is the choice of lens.
I only have one camera body so I either stick to one lens for one session or change half way through. On long wide streets the process is less stressful because there is more time to capture what’s going on as well as space to move. But on narrow streets changing a lens can be impossible due to the lack of space. All you need is one spectator to push past and you’ll see a lens bounce down the road.

The most difficult part about the whole process is the huge difference there is in capturing a narrow or wide street. Because of the wide / narrow street variation and the speed at which the event happens, gaining experience in lens choice, which angle works, how to dodge the spectators and dive up and down the team as they dance becomes a multi year process. And the event is only once a year over two days so there is no other opportunity to gain experience.

The whole event has such an amazing atmosphere and the team is so enthusiastic it makes any issue a non issue.
So I leave you with too many photos as proof that the Tensyouren team had a fantastic time at this years Koenji Awa Odori.


Obon - お盆

There is an Obon festival (お盆の阿波踊り) not far from my place that my wife's Awa Odori team performs at every year. It's very local and always a great atmosphere with kids running around. If you ever visit Japan at the end of summer I recommend visiting one if you have the chance. Always a great community feeling.

Kyodo Awa Odori

So the Tensyouren team my wife belongs to were at Kyodo in Setagaya again this year. It seems to be a tradition to make an appearance. It's really just practice for them for the big even at the end of August in Koenji.The streets are too narrow to take any real pictures but I go all the same and try to take a few snaps of team for the archives. This has prompted me to do a bit of street shooting in preparation for the event in August. Too mach time using medium format cameras has slowed my reflexes somewhat.


So, as usual I have shot for the team again. For those of you who don't know me, my wife dances in an Awa odori team called Tensyouren in Koenji. As a way for me to participate I have become the team photographer of sorts. Each year I make a book of the images for each member of the team.This year with my lack of digital camera use I seem to be somewhat out of practice. I don't think I have nearly as many keepers as the previous years but as a few of you may know, I may be being a little harsh on myself (time will tell).

Anyway, the team just renewed their website and I think they did a fine job of it considering the state it was in previously. I've been a bit cheeky by posting this frame before I've handed off a small selection for the team to upload to their new site but I've not posted anything for a while and it's not for a lack of shooting. Anyway, if you want to see more shots (maybe old ones until later this week) head over to the site