Japanese dance parade coming to Orchard Rd

Ms Misako Ito (left), director of the Japan Creative Centre, and Ms Priscilla Tan, spokesman for the SJ50 Matsuri task force, at the pre-event press conference for SJ50 Matsuri, a special Japan-themed festival. Members of the Awa Odori folk group of
Members of the Awa Odori folk group of Japan performing in Moscow in August. The Awa Odori is the largest element of the ongoing SJ50 celebrations in Singapore and is expected to attract more than 2,000 dancers.PHOTO: REUTERS
Ms Misako Ito (left), director of the Japan Creative Centre, and Ms Priscilla Tan, spokesman for the SJ50 Matsuri task force, at the pre-event press conference for SJ50 Matsuri, a special Japan-themed festival. Members of the Awa Odori folk group of
Ms Misako Ito (left), director of the Japan Creative Centre, and Ms Priscilla Tan, spokesman for the SJ50 Matsuri task force, at the pre-event press conference for SJ50 Matsuri, a special Japan-themed festival. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Awa Odori, Japan's largest dance parade, will make its way to Orchard Road later this month.

Singapore's bustling shopping street will be closed to traffic on Oct 29 as dancers make their way from the Mandarin Orchard hotel to Ion mall, in celebrations to mark 50 years of diplomatic ties between Singapore and Japan.

The Awa Odori is the largest element of the ongoing SJ50 celebrations, the Embassy of Japan said at a press conference yesterday, and is expected to attract more than 2,000 dancers, comprising 60 top Awa dancers from Tokushima and Koenji in Japan, performers from the Japanese Association in Singapore and members of the public.

The parade is the highlight of SJ50 Matsuri, a special Japan- themed festival, to be held at the Civic Plaza, Ngee Ann City, on Oct 29 and 30.

The SJ50 steering committee, headed by the embassy, hopes to foster more opportunities for the people of both nations to interact with each other, developing their friendship and mutual understanding.

"We have achieved so much together," said Ms Misako Ito, 58, director of the Japan Creative Centre, the embassy's culture and information centre. "We wanted to celebrate together, not only in the political sphere, but at the level of people-to-people exchange. Something in which people can participate is a huge matsuri."

In Japan, a matsuri is a street festival or holiday.

From 10am to 8pm each day, visitors can try popular festival games and Japanese food at seven food stalls.

Shopaholics will be able to purchase special Japanese goods from the 57 exhibitors at the festival.

The SJ50 Matsuri will also feature 40 performances over the two days by 24 groups and organisations from Japan, Singapore and other Asian countries.

The line-up includes a cooking demonstration by chef Tatsuo Saito from the television programme, Dining With The Chef, as well as a special blend of beatbox, BMX stunt biking and shamisen, a traditional string instrument, put together by Japanese group Street X.

Anime fans will also have something to cheer about as Anime Festival Asia cosplayers take to the stage in the Cosplay Fashion Talk Show.

No tickets are needed for the festival. But those who wish to participate in the Friendship Parade and Awa Odori must register for the event at http://sj50matsuri.com/

Nadia Chevroulet

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2016, with the headline 'Japanese dance parade coming to Orchard Rd'. Print Edition | Subscribe