Every year in August, Otsuka Group's researchers, marketers, engineers and even Otsuka Pharmaceutical's president himself, come together to perform in Japan's largest dance festival. The colorful, 400-year old traditional Awa Dance performance brought well over 1.23 million spectators from all over Japan and overseas to the tiny Tokushima town of 700,000 population.
August 12th was a hot and muggy day with the mercury hitting 37.3 Celsius (99.14 Fahrenheit), but that did not dampen the excitement among the dancers in Otsuka Ren.
Otsuka's participation started in 1988 with the formation of the Otsuka Ren by scientists, sales representatives, quality control service staff, etc, from plants and research centers in Tokushima Prefecture, a little less than an hour's flight southwest from Tokyo. Now, employees working in Tokyo and Osaka offices are able participate in the dance as well.
About 100 employees that form the Otsuka Ren receive grueling training and must pass the annual audition to perform at the Awa Dance Festival. They practice at various locations after work which also helps build strong bonds among staff that normally don't get the opportunity to socialize with fellow employees from other fields.
This year, 20 new members were admitted to Otsuka Ren, among them was Rosa Yum, an expatriate from the US. The former broadcast journalist recently joined Otsuka Pharmaceutical and was extremely excited and grateful to be able to participate in the festival because such an opportunity is extremely rare. And the companies participating in the festival must have the vision and leadership to bring together people from different backgrounds and experiences to make the Awa Dance a success.