Tokyo’s Asakusa neighborhood is one of the capital’s top tourist destinations. Sensoji Temple and the shopping arcade nearby offer visitors a glimpse into traditional Japan. This coming weekend, though, the area will be full of Brazilian energy and the passionate rhythm and music of samba.
Now in its 32nd year, the Asakusa Samba Carnival, modeled after the Rio de Janeiro original, has grown to become Japan’s biggest samba festival. Originally started in 1981 after Taito Ward invited over the winning group of that year’s Carnival in Rio, the festival today features thousands of dancers — male and female — dressed up in gorgeous costumes. Using decorated cars as floats, participants parade down the main streets of Asakusa against the background of Tokyo Skytree, a newer major tourist attraction.
The parade will start at Sensoji Temple’s Nitenmon Gate at 1 p.m., travel down Umamichi-dori and turn onto Kaminarimon-dori.
The carnival, attracting half a million spectators every year, is also a legitimate dance contest. This year, a total of 19 teams in two leagues will compete for prizes, prestige and adoration from the public.
The teams, hailing from across Japan, will be judged for everything from the theme of their floats, to dynamism, costume design and dance performance.
The Asakusa Samba Carnival takes place in Taito-ku, Tokyo, on Aug. 31 from 1 p.m. till 6 p.m. For more information, visit www.asakusa-samba.org.