Sansa Odori is one of the most impressive parades you may ever witness. It’s the worlds largest assemblage of drums in a parade, which is pretty incredible all on its own. There are several “teams” which can be identified by the difference in costume. Every team has Sansa dancers, drummers, and floutists. The dancers are known for their characteristic graceful arm movements, and everyone in the parade shouts a chant in time with the drums. The energy is positively effervescent! The festival all started from a legend of a terrible demon who struck fear in everyone. The people prayed to a god to get rid of the demon. The god made the demon promise to never harm the people again by forcing him to imprint his hands on the three rocks at Mitsuishi Shrine. The demon left and never came back. This is also the legend of how Iwate came to be named Iwate (iwa: rock te: hand). What does this have to do with the festival? It is said that when the locals found out the demon had been dispelled, they celebrated by dancing around the three rocks the demon printed with his hands and cheered “SANSA, SANSA!”. The festival can be very crowded, so be sure to get there at least half an hour to an hour or so ahead of schedule. This may sound excessive, but all the good spots may be taken by the time you show up! Feel free to wear your festival gear, but be sure to wear comfy shoes. You may be standing for a long time unless you find a good spot to sit on. If you are so inclined to join in on the dance, you can do so at the end of the parade. Just jump right in and watch your neighbor. You will be sure to get it down in no time!