Dancing in the streets at Oiden festival

Every last Saturday of July, Toyota City has its annual festival called Oiden. It is followed by the Toyota City Fireworks Display on Sunday.

They close off one of the main streets of Toyota City and set up a stage and some food stands. Thousands of people flock to the Toyota City Center to see the spectacle that is Oiden.

Oiden festival stage in Toyota City, July 30th 2011
Oiden festival stage
Toyota City near Toyotashi station
This is what the area usually looks like

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So what is Oiden all about then? Oiden is a dance festival. Groups of people, dressed in the most colourful costumes they could come up with, gather in the street behind the stage.

Oiden Festival Toyota City performers
All waiting to perform

Each group has practiced a dance routine that they will perform over and over again to the Oiden song while slowly moving up and down the street in a long chain (making an ellipse so that they eventually come back to where they started and so that all spectators have seen all groups pass by).

A bit too abstract? Allow me to illustrate with a video.

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Oiden is starting. First a countdown: ‘O-I-D-E-Oiden’, then the music starts and everyone starts dancing.

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You have to admit it’s a catchy tune. In the video below you can hear the chorus and see another group dancing. It’s the same song every year.

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These dancing people give a new meaning to the word energetic (genki in Japanese). I have never seen such enthusiasm over such a prolonged period of time, nor have I ever seen so many smiling faces in one place.

Oiden Toyota City festival energetic dancers
Could they be any more enthusiastic? Take into account that they have been dancing for two hours already. I'm impressed!

Admittedly Oiden seems a little over the top but all cynicism put aside, these loud, happy, sparkling people really made me feel good. Oiden is a festival with a very positive vibe. It’s all about having some good old-fashioned fun.

Oiden festival Toyota City smiley costumes
Smiles all around
Oiden Toyota City festival sparkly dancers
Sparkly and happy

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When the festival is over, most of the crowd disperses in about 15 minutes. Although nobody throws garbage on the ground in Japan, a cleaning crew of about 20 people is on standby – just in case. When the street clears the crew immediately sets to work, picking up the smallest piece of paper or lost sequin by hand (!).

Clean up after Oiden, the Toyota City festival
Cleaning crew cleaning the already spotless street

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