Asakusa Samba Carnival offers a Brazilian alternative to Bon festivals


Staff Writer

Traditional dancing at various festivals around the capital won’t be the only way to shake your booty this weekend as Tokyo’s Asakusa district swaps the Awa and Bon dancing of the season for some Brazilian samba.

The Asakusa Samba Carnival, modeled after Rio de Janeiro’s famed Carnival, will mark its 31st event with a parade that has grown in popularity since it began in 1981. Organizers claim the event has attracted upward of 500,000 spectators and 4,700 performers in recent years (last year’s festivities were canceled in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake). The parade doubles as a team competition with winners receiving a cash prize.

A total of 18 teams will compete this year in two leagues. Teams select a theme and choose their music, choreography, costumes and floats accordingly.

In 2011, a team called Saude won the S1 league contest for the first time. Based in Yokohama, the team will this year perform under the theme, “Let’s toast to health!”

The teams in the S2 league will parade first, followed by those in the S1 league.

The Asakusa Samba Carnival takes place in Taito-ku, Tokyo, on Aug 25 from 1:30 p.m. till 6 p.m. The parade starts at Umamichi Street. For more information, visit www.asakusa-samba.jp (Japanese only).