Minoda-ren is part of a group of five rens all based in the Miyoshi-gun area. We all perform at the Highway Oasis on a weekly rotation. From time to time, all the rens get together and do a big performance. One such date is coming up in a couple of weeks time. It's for the Minoda-matsuri (the festival named for the Minoda rocks, which are a feature of the river at the Oasis).
We had a practice for the matsuri last night. Usually dance practice is at the weekend, but to get ready for the big show, all the rens have been getting together on Thursday nights. Practicing mid-week always serves as a reminder to me of how diverse the Dancing Fools of Tokushima really are. People turn up fresh from work: teeneagers in their school uniforms, construction workers, electricians, teachers and so on. Seeing people of so many backgrounds come together for a common purpose is, I think, one of the best things about being in a Awa Odori ren. It really is for everyone! I love how it brings people together so that we can enjoy dancing, and so that we can entertain people.
If you would step into any of the high schools in the county, and look at the sullen faces of the students, you'd be forgiven for thinking that doing something as community-minded as Awa Odori would be their idea of hell. But come down to the Oasis on a Thursday night, and watch them as they transform themselves into fools. It's a great spectacle, and something I will be forever grateful to be involved in!
I hope to see some of you on October 23rd at the Miyoshi-cho Highway Oasis!