Samurai Dave: The Roving Ronin Report

Rambling Narrative of Travels, Thoughts, and Embellishments

Some Highlights from the 2007 Asakusa Samba Carnival Video

 For over 20 years the traditional district of Asakusa in Tokyo has hosted its own Samba Carnival Parade with thousands of participants. Here are some highlights from the 2007 event.

September 30, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, carnival, culture, dance, entertainment, festival, japan, life, rio de janeiro, samba, sexy, tokyo, travel, video | Leave a comment

A bit of Rio in Tokyo – Samba Style

Samba Meets Sushi
Brazilian Samba Carnival Celebrated in Tokyo Town

Scantily-clad Samba Girls attract lots of attention at Asakusa’s yearly Samba Carnival

Every year, the traditional district of Tokyo known as Asakusa gets treated to the very untraditional sight of samba girls dancing down the street in front of Senso-ji, one of Tokyo’s most dignified Buddhist temples. A kaleidoscopic swirl of color fills the street as musicians, dancers, and floats move to the sound of the samba beat rather than a somber Buddhist dirge.

Colorfully-attired musicians strike up a lively Latin beat

Asakusa’s Samba Carnival began in 1981. The mayor of the district at that time wanted the winners of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival to put on a display in Asakusa. It was so popular that the untraditional event became a tradition. Today the festival has become a four-hour long parade of samba groups from all over Japan.

A Samba Dancer atop a fiery float

Thirty to forty groups compete in three leagues for prizes every year. The top league is comprised of groups who take their samba seriously while the other two leagues are for those who are there mainly for the fun of it all.

The groups pick themes every year. The themes can be elegant like sparkling jewelry or autumn leaves or they can be comical like the one I saw this year where women had large doughnuts strapped to their shoulders.

Godzilla likes Samba?

Close to 4000 people participate in the Samba parade every year. The majority of the participants are Japanese but there are also a number of foreigners who participate most notably Brazilians and Japanese Brazilians.

The Lollipop Gang representin’

Japanese Brazilians brings some clarity as to why the Asakusa Samba Carnival exists in the first place. A large number of Japanese reside in Brazil. In fact, Brazil has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan. Migration to Brazil started in the early 20th Century with farmers looking for better conditions abroad. A number of them inter-married with Brazilians and converted to Catholicism.

In the 1980s during the Bubble Economy many Japanese Brazilians began to migrate to Japan. There are now over 275,000 “Dekasegi” – Japanese Brazilians – living in Japan. So Japan and Brazil share a special tie culturally – Japanese immigrants introduced judo which has became Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for example. Therefore the Asakusa Samba Carnival represent this cultural bond between these two countries.

Most visitors to the carnival are no doubt not aware of this nor do they likely care. They come for a taste of Rio’s famous Carneval; for the costumes, music, and splendor of the whole thing. And taking pictures – lots of pictures.

A Samba Dancer refreshes herself with bottled water

The scantily-clad samba ladies who best represent in most minds the Carnival are the targets of thousands of cameras which snap away in a frenzy of photographical ecstasy. I am somewhat hesitant to believe all those photographers were taking those pictures solely for artistic purposes simply because the designs of the ladies’ costumes – what little there were of them – were so gorgeous. However, I allowed ignorance to blissfully cloud my mind as I fought for space amongst the densely-huddled photographers to take my own pictures and videos.

The Asakusa Samba Carnival is held on Saturday towards the end of August beginning around 2 in the afternoon. With the enthusiasm of some photographers, it would be best for samba aficionados to arrive probably around noon in order to get a good view.

Mmmm…. sexy doughnut!

Viva la Carnival!

(Young) Elvis lives!

Record-setting costumes

“Don’t Turn Me Off!”

Bovine Beauties

…and on a final note…

September 28, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, brazil, carnaval, carnival, costumes, culture, dance, entertainment, festival, japan, life, party, rio de janeiro, samba, sexy, tokyo, travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments