Many people who are not familiar with things South American may not realize how close a connection there is between Brazil and Japan. But if you find yourself (like I did)*, somehow, in the Japanese countryside in a Japanese Brazilian town you’d be surprised about just how many Brazilians there are in Japan (relatively).
Japanese Brazilians hold onto their Brazilian heritage and traditions very proudly, and because of this, it is possible for you to experience a tiny part of Brazil even in Japan.
The best place to do this is at the Asakusa Samba Carnival
(You can take a look at the 2013 Carnival on this video)
Every year, at the end of August, Brazilian dance teams from all over Japan compete in a giant parade around Asakusa. There are 2 ranks of performers: S2 League and S1 League. S2 is less experienced than S1 and has less elaborate costumes and dance.
You can check out the official site for the names of the teams and the order of appearance (Japanese only)
If you want to catch the flashiest dances with the most elaborate get-ups, you can go over to Asakusa in the afternoon (the best is literally left for last).
If you read the comic and you don’t know about “camera ojisan” (it’s how I call these men with cameras…lit. “uncles with cameras”), then you might be confused.
Japanese people are very open about their love of photography.
You can safely bet that anything you thought classically beautiful in Japan has been photographed by at least 1,000 Japanese men with lenses over 10 centimeters in length.
Consider this fact (it’s probably a fact) while you consider the amount of skin shown at the Asakusa Carnival. It’s no surprise that the end result is an impregnable wall of camera ojisan staked out in front of the entire parade route. Notice carefully how their lenses all start to raise up when a female samba performer comes near….Hey, I don’t actually blame them. There are all things we would like to remember forever and a photo helps us.
For example, I would always like to remember the samba bug-men I saw.
*I taught in the town of Oizumi, Gunma, which has if not the highest, one of the most densely populated area of Brazilians and South Americans in Japan. There were at least 2 churrasco restaurants in town, a free-standing Brazilian supermarket, its own samba festival, a year-round bikini store and it was a super small country town. How many churrasco restaurants and Brazilian-style waxing trucks are there in the typical Japanese town?