Food, Fun and Dance at Roppongi Hills Bon Odori

Kelly Wetherille

Sep. 16, 2015

This year marked the tenth anniversary of the Roppongi Gaku dance festival, which is held each August, and therefore the event was bigger and better than ever. The festival ran for three days — the last three days of the Roppongi Hills summer festival — with a special addition happening on the Saturday. For the first time, Keyakizaka (the hill that runs through Roppongi Hills from Tsutaya at the bottom to the Grand Hyatt Tokyo at the top) was closed off to traffic to enable dancers to perform in the street. 

I arrived at the bottom of Keyakizaka just as the dance performance was starting, and already there was a great energy in the air. The dancers — workers at Roppongi Hills, residents and Mori Building staff — rehearsed long and hard to perfect their movements, and the result was highly entertaining. Dances from all over Japan, as well as ones from other Asian countries, were incorporated into the performance. It was a nice nod to the international atmosphere of the area.

After the Keyakizaka performance, the crowd moved to the Roppongi Hills Arena for the Bon Odori dance. A series of songs was performed live by Roppongi Jiro, who has been a fixture at the festival for some time. Jiro was joined by another new singer who landed the gig through an audition process. I always love the Bon Odori for its inclusiveness — people young and old, both Japanese and non-Japanese, joined the crowd in dancing around the arena. Those that didn’t know the dance were quickly shown the ropes by someone with more experience. It was a wonderful thing to watch.

After the performances, I grabbed some food and drink from the stands that were set up around the arena and also on Keyakizaka. From there, I headed down the road to Azabu Juban, where even more festival activities were well under way! What a great way to enjoy a Saturday afternoon and evening in Tokyo.