One million dance lovers gather for Tokushima’s ‘Awa’ festival

The annual “Awa Odori”, which originates from a Japanese Buddhist custom of honouring the spirits of ancestors, sees the otherwise sleepy city of Tokushima turn into a stage for four days.

Groups of dancers and musicians, known as ren, parade through the streets to the sound of traditional music instruments such as lutes, drums, flutes and bells.

Sporting kimono-like costumes with hair bands or straw hats, they chant in chorus and dance in synchronised choreography.

The number of participants, including performers, is expected to hit the same number as last year, when 1.2 million took part in the centuries-old carnival.

Over a million performers and spectators will flock to a western Japanese city this weekend for one of the country’s largest dance festivals, after organizers stepped up efforts to accommodate foreign visitors. (Japan Today)

Three workmen fell to their deaths at a building construction site in Tokyo’s Marunouchi district on Friday. (Japan Today)

Police in Izumi, Osaka Prefecture, are looking for a man who stole a bag from a 69-year-old woman in a wheelchair in an elevator at the woman’s municipal apartment building. (Japan Today)

The planned launch of a rocket carrying the navigation satellite Michibiki No. 3 has been postponed. (NHK)

The bodies of a father and his 7-year-old son were found Saturday at a beach in Fukuoka Prefecture after they were swept out to sea with another boy and their would-be rescuer a day earlier, police said. (Japan Times)

China’s Mobike will start a bicycle-sharing service in Sapporo in late August, becoming the first major player in the rapidly expanding Chinese industry to set foot in Japan. (

Relatives of victims of Japan’s worst air disaster gathered to remember their loved ones on Saturday, the 32nd anniversary of the tragedy. (NHK)

Japan is deploying missile interceptor units in western parts of the country in response to North Korea’s plans to fire missiles toward the US Pacific territory of Guam. (NHK)

The Justice Ministry intends to introduce a videophone-based interpretation system for foreign nationals in prisons and detention centers. (

Japan posted surpluses in its public pension accounts in fiscal 2016, which ended in March, thanks to large investment returns, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said Thursday. (

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