The full complement of eight Saipan Awaodori Team members finally performed last weekend, joining their mother group, Tokyo Tensuiren Group, in shows in Ontakesan in Tokyo and Fuji in Susono, Japan.
PDM Promoters, Inc. coordinator Sonia Siwa said that drummers/musicians Zacarias Sakisat and siblings Mitsunobu and Ran Suzuki as well as dancers Itheyvin They, Ronald Fitipol, Cody Litulumar, Nyla Sablan, and Elisa Lazaro performed as a group on Aug. 17 in Ontakesan and on Aug. 18 in Fuji.
Sablan, Litulumar, and Fitipol arrived in Japan only on Aug. 11.
Next up for the Saipan Awaodori Team is the Koenji Awaodori Festival on Aug. 24 and 25.
“This is the second largest of all the Awaodori festivals held throughout Japan. This is held annually on the last Saturday and Sunday of August,” Siwa said.
About 188 groups with 12,000 dancers and musicians will pile out on the nine routes set up along the shopping promenades of the streets of Koenji.
Siwa said the Saipan members who are now in Japan are the group leaders. In fact, four of them— Lazaro, Litulumar, Fitipol, and They—have been members since the group started six years ago. Sakisat and Sablan, meanwhile, have been with the group the past three years.
“They all serve as inspirations to other members of the group who want to become good dancers and active members so they can have their chance to be the next ones to dance in Japan,” said Siwa.
She said PDM Promoters CEO and director Misako Kamata shouldered all the expenses for the group’s monthlong stay in Japan.
“We did not do any fundraising for them. Plane tickets, accommodations, transportation, as well as their daily food were all taken cared of by Ms. Kamata. They stayed at her house in Tokyo and [Kamata’s mother] took care of them and cooked for them. We asked the parents just to give their kids some daily allowance so they can buy something for themselves.”
Additional expenses for Awaodori events like uniforms and instruments were purchased using donations from the Saipan Awaodori Team’s sponsors like the Tan Siu Lin Foundation, DFS Galleria, and Docomo Pacific.
Aside from Kamata, instructor/teacher Mayumi Suzuki is accompanying the eight members of the team. Suzuki is a member of the Tokyo Tensuiren Group.
The team is expected to return to Saipan on Aug. 28.
The Awaodori Festival is held from July to August in Japan and is meant to usher the souls of ancestors during the obon season.