There are 2 big festivals in Tokyo at the end of August; One is Harajuku Super Yosakoi Festival, and the other is this Asakusa Samba Carnival.
If you have browsed a Tokyo guidebook or something like that, you possibly say, “Samba in Asakusa? Isn’t is a traditional district?” I’ll explain it.
Asakusa locals are known as festival-loving people by the Japanese. And they admit so, too! Sanja Festival in May, Sumida River Fireworks Festival in July and Setsubun Festival at Sensoji Temple in February are famous not only in Tokyo but throughout Japan. Asakusa locals’ passions have made the festivals big enough for them to get excited. (Me? I’m a Tokyo local, but not from Asakusa district.)
Moreover, according to the pamphlet, they love new things so much – This tendency made them start Samba Carnival as a new, exciting summer festival in 1980s.
Now, Asakusa Samba Carnival is the biggest Samba Carnival in the Northern Hemisphere and 500000 people visit there to see the parade every year.
Hope you enjoy this report of Asakusa Samba Carnival!
The festival starts at 1 p.m. The opening performers were bubbles and musical bands of local children.
Fortunately, I was standing just behind the press area where the iconic Kaminarimon Gate is seen just in front of us. It is amazing that the traditional place attracts so many excited people.
The parade is held in Umamichi Street and Kaminarimon Street that are circling Sensoji Temple. Turning the corner, parade cars arrived!
Amazingly Big & Colorful Parade
As you see, the weather was not very good this year, but it can’t stop Asakusa locals’ passion. For visitors, it was not a very bad thing because it was not too boiling hot to see the parade in the street.
This year, Asakusa Samba Carnival attracted more attention than normal years because of Rio Olympic Games. The mood was totally Brazilian this summer. Then, the big festival of Brazilian dance came.
A visitor from Yokohama who was standing near me said, “I was wondering if I’d go out or not because the typhoon was approaching. And I also wondered if I’d go to see Yosakoi Festival in Harajuku or this Samba Carnival, but I was right to be here. I’m so happy to see the Brazilian dances!”
Yes, the 2 big festivals in Tokyo are held in the same weekend in most years, and it makes people puzzled which to go. Of course, it’s so fine to visit both!
Contest, Not Just a Festival
This is not just a festival to enjoy, but a contest. So every team is so serious about their performance.
The stages on the cars are so high! How festive!
Japanese-Inspired Samba Costumes
Not only Brazilian Samba costumes, some performers are in Japanese-inspired costumes. Long sleeves like kimonos, geisha-like hairstyle, samurai-armor like designs… They are so interesting to see.
Originally, Asakusa is a place of many small theaters. There are many actors, comedians, dancers, and any kind of entertainers. This culture enables this brilliant samba carnival.
Some performers are on the top of the car, but we can see many dancers and musicians on the street as well. Every performer looked so excited – The most important thing is to ENJOY the festival.
When we go traveling in foreign countries, we tend to expect exoticism.
But iconic views, towers, animals, traditional arts and foods are not all. When we see “today” of the country, we can feel and learn more of the country.
Samba is Brazilian. And you see, Asakusa Samba Carnival is a big festival that Asakusa culture is condensed so well.
If you are lucky enough to stay in Tokyo at the end of August, I encourage you to explore Asakusa Samba Carnival.
Asakusa Samba Carnival 2016
In Umamichi Street and Kaminarimon Street. 1 minute from Asakusa station.
27 August, 13:00 – 18:00 (cf: Harajuku Super Yosakoi Festival was on 27 – 28 August, 2016.)
Free to see.
Asakusa Travel Guide by Tokyo Direct Guide
Asakusa Samba Carnival Official Website (Japanese)