The legend of the Sansa Dance is said to have began when a wicked demon was punished by the god of Mitsuishi Shrine in Iwate. The demon had to promise to god that he would never do bad deeds again. To show the demon's promise, the demon left a handprint on a rock nearby. The locals in Iwate were ecstatic, and danced around the rock. This is the origin of Sansa, and where the name "Iwate", meaning "rock hand" comes from.
In the Guiness Book of World Records for the largest taiko festival, the Morioka Sansa Odori Festival is also part of the Five Great Festivals of Tohoku. It is held from August 1 to 4.
The Sansa Odori consists of local schools, businesses, and civic groups that march with exquisite choreography. Participants, including those with instruments, wear colorful costumes and dance while marching. The teams have three major sections: taiko drummers, flutists, and dancers.
It is impressive to see taiko drummers dancing and chanting "Sakkora Choiwa Yasse", or a "call to bring in good luck", because the taiko drum is about 50 cm in diameter and weighs around 6 to 7 kg. Festival watchers are amazed by the endless rows of dancers and musical instruments.
If you feel like joining in, the Sansa Odori tradition is to have a giant circle dance party after the parade finishes.