Celebration of Culture and Dance at Sanuki Takamatsu Festival

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Known as the “Gateway to Shikoku”, Takamatsu is the capital city of Kagawa Prefecture. Every year from August 12 to 14, Takamatsu celebrates its biggest summer festival, the Sanuki Takamatsu Festival. “Sanuki” is the prefecture’s old name and is closely associated with Takamatsu’s famed noodles, “Sanuki Udon”.

Since 1964, the three­-day festival has been the highlight of Takamatsu’s summer calendar. It coincides with “Obon” – an annual Buddhist festival during which family members gather together to welcome their ancestors’ spirits. As a result, Takamatsu is packed with people returning to their homelands as well as tourists participating in the summer celebrations.

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The first day of the festival takes place in Chuo Park. The main stage is kept busy with events like the Yukata competition and comedy shows. There are also many food stalls and fun fringe activities to entertain the festival­goers.

On the second day of the festival, crowds head to Sunport Takamatsu to watch the largest fireworks display in Shikoku. Close to 8,000 fireworks illuminate the city’s night skies and the surrounding Seto Inland Sea. The festive atmosphere is enhanced by colourful stalls decorating the waterfront promenade. There are other fun events, including a karaoke competition, in Chuo Park, too.

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Thousands of dancers from children to adults move to the rhythm of the festival’s theme song. Passionate dance groups impress spectators with their perfectly choreographed performances as they fight for top positions in the dance competition.

The climax of the festival is on the last day where Chuo­dori street is filled with endless parade of dancers. The Takamatsu community’s spirit is expressed through the dancers’ energy and smiles.

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Unlike the Awa Odori Dance Festival held in neighbouring Tokushima, Takamatsu Sanuki Festival is not widely known. The relative obscurity of this festival is precisely its attraction—it delivers an authentic experience. 

This article was published in ANA Experience Japan website 2016-2018.