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Sendai Aoba Festival 2023" in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan Video Introduction

This video, titled "Sendai Sparrow Dance 2023 Sendai Aoba Festival SUZUME ODORI(sendai,Japan)" (仙台すずめ踊り 2023仙台・青葉まつり SUZUME ODORI(sendai,Japan)), was uploaded by "emeraldmiyagi II."

The Sendai Aoba Festival of Sendai, Miyagi features a traditional dance called "Suzume Odori" (すずめ踊り, lit 'sparrow dance'), which has been handed for generations in Sendai. The dancers, with fans in hand, resemble cute sparrows. The dance is said to have originated as an improvised dance performed by masonry workers.

This article introduces the history of Suzume Odori and its highlights. Be sure to check out the video to see what the lively Suzume Odori dance is like.

What Is the Sendai Aoba Festival? The History of the Unique Japanese Festival

Image of the Sendai Aoba Festival, Sendai, Miyagi
Photo:Sendai Aoba Festival, Sendai, Miyagi

The origins of the Sendai Aoba Festival, held every May, can be traced back to the Sendai Festival, a festival held at Sendai Toshogu Shrine by order of Date Tadamune, the second lord of the Sendai Domain, in 1655. At the time, the festival featured a spectacular procession of floats.

The last Yamaboko floats were made in 1897, but since 1956, Sendai Aoba Festival has been held under the sponsorship of the Sendai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, etc. The current Sendai Aoba Festival was first held in 1985.

The present Sendai Aoba Festival, which was continued as the first festival in 1985, was unfortunately canceled in the second and third years of the Showa era due to the spread of the new coronavirus. 2022 was held on a reduced scale, but 2023 is the first regular event in four years, and you can feel the joy and vitality of those who have been waiting for it from the video.
[Video] 7:27 - Children Dancing Happily With Adults

Sendai Aoba Festival – The Meaning of the Suzume Odori Dance, Clothing, and Characteristics of the Festival

The history of Suzume Odori dates back to 1603. It is said to have originated as an impromptu dance performed by masonry workers in front of Lord Date Masamune at a banquet that was held after the relocation of Sendai Castle.

Because the dancers resembled sparrows, the dance was named "Suzume Odori," and Date Masamune's family crest was also bamboo and sparrow. It's recorded that "Suzume Odori" was danced at the Aoba Festival in 1885.

However, due to a lack of successors, the dance ceased for a time in 1950. Later, with the aim of preserving the tradition as a local folk art, it was revived as Sendai Suzume Odori at the 3rd Sendai Aoba Festival in 1987. The current Sendai Aoba Festival is a two-day festival in which the Suzume Odori dance is performed on a grand scale.

The clothing worn during Suzume Odori consists of women wearing their hair in buns with flower ornaments. Happi coats, etc., are worn over Koikuchi shirts with carp-like cuffs. In the video, many people can be seen wearing matching hachimaki headbands with patterns. In their hands, they hold fans with different colors on each side. The sight of a large number of people dancing together is spectacular, and is great for taking photos if you're a photographer or Instagrammer!
[Video] 2:54 - Sendai sparrow dance with happi coat, thick shirt and zelkova trees

The Suzume Odori dance is performed on Jozenji-dori, a street lined with zelkova trees, which can be seen from the beginning of the video, and the costumes of the dancers are particularly noteworthy.

Things to Do at the Sendai Aoba Festival

Image of Suzume Odori at the Sendai Aoba Festival, Sendai, Miyagi
Photo:Suzume Odori at the Sendai Aoba Festival, Sendai, Miyagi

The Sendai Aoba Festival is a two-day festival that includes "Yoimatsuri," and evening festival, and "Hon Matsuri," the festival on the main day of the event.
During Yoi Matsuri, Suzume Odori is held after the opening ceremony, and during Hon Matsuri, another version of the dance is performed.

On both days, a market will be set up in Kotodai Park and other areas, where visitors can experience the traditions, culture, and gourmet food associated with feudal lord Date Masamune.

Tourists can also participate in the Suzume Odori dance as well. It's a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture.

You can watch the Suzume Odori dance at Sendai Civic Square.

[Video] 0:02 - Suzume Odori at Sendai Civic Square

When is Sendai Aoba Festival in 2024 + How to Get to Sendai Aoba Festival

Image of Kotodaikoen Station, Sendai City Subway
Photo:Kotodaikoen Station, Sendai City Subway

The 40th Sendai Aoba Festival in 2024 is scheduled to be held on Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19.

To access the festival, visitors can walk from JR Sendai Station or Kotodaikoen Station, etc. If you are driving, parking is available at general pay parking lots. Please note that traffic regulations will be enforced around the venue during the event period.

A Brief Introduction to Sendai

Sendai is located approximately 1 hour north of Tokyo by bullet train. It's famous for its gyutan (thinly sliced beef tongue), Tanabata festival in August, and snacks made with zunda, a mashed paste made from boiled green soybeans. The city was founded in 1601 by Data Masamune, a legendary samurai and ruler of which a statue can be seen at Sendai Castle (Aoba Castle).

May is the last month of spring in Japan, and as such, Sendai, much like Tokyo, will be getting warmer with each passing day. As such, we recommended bringing t shirts and shorts for the warmer days, as well as long-sleeve shirts, windbreakers, etc., for days when the temperature is a bit lower.

Things to Do Near Sendai Aoba Festival

Sendai Aoba Festival is held in close proximity to Sendai Station, and there are many things to do nearby. Here is a short list of things to do near the festival:

Zuihoden is the mausoleum of the famous warrior and ruler, Date Masamune. It was built in 1636 by order of Date Masamune, who passed away at the age of 70. The mausoleum features gorgeous architecture and other members of the Date Clan are also entombed in nearby mausoleums on the premises.

Hours: February 1 - November 30, 9:00 am - 4:50 pm (last admission at 4:30 pm)
December 1 - January 31, 9:00 am - 4:20 pm (last admission at 4:00 pm)
Admission Fee: General admission: 570 yen, High school students: 410 yen, Elementary and middle school students: 210 yen (Discounts available for groups of 20 or more)

Sendai Castle (Aoba Castle)
Sendai Castle, also known as Aoba Castle, was built in 1601 by order of Date Masamune. Throughout the castle's life it was damaged by many earthquakes and other natural disasters, but was repaired each time. It was also involved the Boshin War, however, indirectly. Many of the former buildings were destroyed by a large fire in 1882 and later in 1945 during WWII. Despite being mostly ruins, there are many attractions to see here, including the gallant statue of Date Masamune on horseback.

Hours: April - October: 9:00 am - 4:20 pm (Reception closes at 3:50 pm)
November - March: 9:00 am - 3:40 pm (Reception closes at 3:10 pm)
Admission Fee (Aoba Castle Museum): General admission: 700 yen, Middle and high school students: 500 yen, Elementary school students: 300 yen

Sendai Morning Market
A morning market offering a wide variety of fresh local specialties from Miyagi Prefecture. You can enjoy purchasing souvenirs here or trying a wide range of snacks. There are also restaurants where you can eat at as well.

Hours: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Admission Fee: Free

Summary of the Sendai Aoba Festival

This article introduced Suzume Odori, one of the main parts of the Sendai Aoba Festival. The dance, with its colorful fans, makes you want to start dancing yourself. Watching the dancing in the video, it's hard not to crack a smile.

If you're planning to visit Miyagi Prefecture during the Sendai Aoba Festival, consider participating in the festival. Even if you just show up and watch, you're sure to have a great time!

Written By
Last Updated : May. 1, 2023
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