Asakusa sways to samba in annual carnival

by Kazuaki Nagata

Sing a song. Play the music. Dance to the rhythm — it’s a samba extravaganza.

About 4,700 people participated Saturday in the 28th Asakusa Samba Carnival, turning Tokyo’s Asakusa district into a little Brazil. For many samba enthusiasts, the carnival, which has become an Asakusa tradition, is something special.

Akira Iizuka, a member of samba organization G.R.E.S. Saude in Yokohama, said his group participates in other events, but this is the biggest.

“The Asakusa Samba Carnival is where people can perform a real Brazilian-style carnival,” said Iizuka, who was taking part in his eighth Asakusa festival.

The carnival featured contests for two leagues with a total of 20 teams.

The teams paraded from Umamichi Dori to the end of Kaminarimon Dori in front of thousands of people.

The dancers prepared their own costumes and themes.

While many women wore showy colorful bikinis with big feathers on their head and back, costumes varied widely between the different teams.

Members of one team dressed as chefs and many teams used decorated cars.

The Asakusa Samba Carnival started in 1981 after Taito Ward invited over the winning group of that year’s Rio Carnival in Brazil.