Festivals & Events
Sansa Odori Festival 盛岡さんさ踊り
A traditional dance is the centerpiece of Iwate's largest festival
Sansa Odori is a dance performed by large groups of people dancing in a parade in sync with taiko drummers, wooden flute players, and people chanting. The Sansa Odori Festival is Iwate Prefecture's largest festival, held from August 1 through 4 each year. Parades and dancing take place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
It features the largest taiko drumming performance in the world, listed in the listed in the Guinness Book of World Records
Morioka Sansa Odori Festival is considered one of the five great festivals of the Tohoku region
How to Get There
Access the festival from Morioka Station, the city's transportation hub.
Cross the Kaiun Bridge directly in front of the station and walk east toward the city center for about two blocks. The parade route is on the four-lane street one block to the west of the main street in the city center.
Join the band
Audience participation is actively encouraged in Sansa Odori. During the final half hour for the first three nights and the last hour for the final night of the event, parade-goers are invited to join in. Instead of marching, people dance in circles around floats that carry featured performers.
Practice makes perfect
Sansa groups usually start practicing once or twice a week in two-hour blocks as early as three months before the festival. The event also draws active participation from non-Japanese residents living in the area through the Iwate International Association and the local chapter of JC International.
Refresh and replenish
Though it may be called Snow Country, Iwate's mid-summer temperatures can reach 35 to 40 degrees Celsius even in the early evening when the festival takes place. Drink plenty of water and electrolyte-replenishing drinks if you intend to join in.
Dress the part
Any residents wanting to join a group will have to make a slight investment. The dress code requires a yukata robe (the cheaper jinbei is not allowed), white tabi socks, and approved zori sandals. It may be necessary to rent a taiko.