Tohoku University Students to Perform at Aoba Street Festival 2024

The season for outdoor festivals is upon us and there is none bigger in Sendai than the Aoba Matsuri, which attracts about a million people every year from around the region. The colourful street festival is a celebration of Sendai's rich history, and features the suzume odori, or sparrow dance, performed by dozens of community groups.

This year's festival will be held on May 18 - 19, and Tohoku University students will be involved all weekend.

On May 18, the Tohoku University Sparrow Dance Team, comprising mostly international students, will once again perform. The students learnt the dance - with help from instructors from local group Datenomai (伊達の舞) - as part of a class on Japanese culture.

"Doing this class has been fun," said Leonard Cote, a student from France. "I realized that dancing together is a really good way to make new friends, and I'm also excited to take part in something that is a big part of Sendai and Miyagi's traditional culture."

"I heard about this class from a friend who did it and recommended it," said Indonesian student Zaid Tristan. "And it's really been amazing! The people are great and the class is engaging, so yeah, really, really fun."

Miyu Sato, a 4th year medical student said that she had wanted to take the class in previous years but could not make it fit in her course schedule. "I'm from Miyagi, but this is my first time performing Suzume Odori," she said. "This class is cool because there are so many people from different countries and backgrounds, and we get to interact and dance together. I'm so happy to share my culture with them."

As in previous years, members of local drum unit Hiyokko (雛鼓), will support the students at the festival with their traditional instruments.

"I'm excited about the festival but also a bit nervous," said Katja Strohmeier, who's from Germany. "We have experienced musicians performing with us and the instructors have been so nice, I just want to give my best and not disappoint them. I also want us to represent Tohoku University well."

Suzume Odori Date: May 18, 2024
Performance times:
16:05〜16:35 Jozenji Street Nagashi Performance
18:14〜18:18 Shimin Hiroba Stage Performance
19:10〜19:30 Jozenji Street Nagashi Performance
(Note that the times are very specific because of the large number of performing groups.)

The Tohoku University Sparrow Dance Team has been a regular fixture at Aoba Matsuri for several years and has received praise for bringing a subtle international flavour to their performances.

"I think it might be a difficult dance for some of the students, but they are always smiling and they look like they are enjoying themselves, and that is the most important," said dance instructor Mai Tamura. "I'm sure they will have a good time at the festival."

On Sunday, May 19, some 30 international students will also join Fujisaki staff members in pulling a 6-meter tall traditional float along the Aoba Matsuri Yamaboko Parade. This is the first time that Tohoku University students will be involved in the parade.

Yamaboko Parade
Date: May 19, 2024
Time: 12:30 - 3:30 p.m.
Parade route: Aoba Street ~ Higashi Nibancho Street ~ Jozenji Street
Closing ceremony at 3:20 p.m.

There will be street closures around the Jozenjidori area all weekend, so the best way to get to the festival is to take the subway to Kotodai-koen station.



Tohoku University Global Learning Center
Senior Assistant Professor Yukiko Shimmi
Tel: 022-795-3935

Page Top