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Asakusa Samba Carnival, Japan

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What is the Asakusa Samba Carnival?

The Asakusa Samba Carnival or Asakusa Carnival is an annual celebration held in theAsakusa district, Tokyo. It is a celebration that seems out of the ordinary due to the considerable distance between Japan and Brazil and the country’s notable Catholic minority. However, Brazil has a Japanese community of some300,000 people in São Paulo alone, being the largest outside Japan, so the influences of both countries are somewhat noticeable.

This carnival is quite an event in the district, as it reflects a culture completely different from what the country is used to seeing. The streets of the Asakusa district are filled with samba music, while the thousands of participants parade around showing an incredible spectacle of dances, colors and visual scenes.

 

 

The Asakusa carnival is made up especially of a parade in which about20 samba groups parade along the streets of Asakusa. These groups compete through abile, the singing and theatrical performances in the streets of the district. Each team performs its own theme and expresses it through the costumes, the carriages and its dance. In addition, each group has a Rainha de Bateria, who is the lead dancer, which is accompanied by a couple of dancers.

The staging of the Asakusa carnivals is a long process that takes a lot of effort, especially in the carrots and costumes, which usually feature hundreds of colors, feathers and glitter to stand out from the crowd. Most of the participants are young women, but there are also children, men and older people who wish to bring amagical spectacle among the streets of the district.

The largest groups have more than 250 performers, most of whom parade on foot. These groups are divided into two: First and Second Division or S1 and S2. The S1 is made up of8 teams, which have at least 150 people and are usually the teams with much more experience. The S2 is made up of about 12 teams of 30 to 150 people each and they are usually people without so much experience, some are still amateurs in the art of Brazilian carnival parades.

Each team is evaluated by a jury and can be promoted or demoted depending on their qualification and performance during the parade. Some teams practice intensively throughout the year, doing their best to create performances true to theBrazilian samba tradition. Others are just there for fun and usually focus on the carnival spirit and the emotion they convey. Some groups have even adapted large glamorous shows, while others comedy and joke scenes.

 

 

Groupings

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Some of the groups have a long history of parades, some are as old as the carnival itself and come from various cities and districts such as Hanna, Chika, Noge, Shinagawa, Osaka, Urayasu and of course, Tokyo.

Some of the groupings that stand out the most within the parades are:

  • G.R.E.S União dos Amadores
  • Amigos Calientes
  • Bloco Arrastão
  • ICU LAMBS
  • G.R.E.S. Império do Samba
  • A.E.S. Unids do Urbana
  • G.R.E.S Festança
  • G.R.E.S Estrangeiros

Judges choose the winners; however, thepublic vote is also taken into consideration. In addition, additional prizes are also offered which are awarded thanks to the festivities’ sponsors. The carnivals have gained great importance. In fact, the winners of the Rio de Janeiro Carnivals are invited to attend and participate in the Asakusa Carnivals.

Every year, the Asakusa carnivals welcome at least500,000 people in its streets to enjoy this very interesting and multicolored spectacle.

 

The Asakusa Samba Carnival is a celebration that takes the traditional elements of carnivals in Rio de Janeiro and presents them in the Asakusa district

The Asakusa Samba Carnival is a celebration that takes the traditional elements of carnivals in Rio de Janeiro and presents them in the Asakusa district

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When is the Asakusa Samba Carnival

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The Asakusa Carnival is usually held on the last Saturday of August, so it can be categorized as a summer festival. The Asakusa Samba Carnival will be held on approximately September 25.

 

 

History of the Asakusa Samba Carnivals

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Asakusa was once the important center of Tokyo, so for several decades it was the city’s example district. However, during the 1980s, the district lost some luster and importance, resulting in a Asakusa somewhat despised, forgotten and in disrepair. For this reason, the district decided to revitalize itself with some particular event that would allow a return to the era of greater importance.

Strangely enough, Brazil has a large number of Japanese immigrants, making it the 3rd country with the largest Japanese population in the world. The migration of the Japanese to Brazil began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These Japanese migrated to Brazil with the purpose of working in the coffee plantations that were looking for human strength. At present there are about 2 million Japanese living in Brazil, with about 300,000 in São Paulo alone.

During the 1930s, Japan needed labor, so it allowed the entry of people of Japanese descent up to the fourth generation, including hundreds of thousands of Brazilians who were children and grandchildren of Japanese. Today some200,000 Brazilians live in Japan, so it is not surprising that the two cultures have merged.



The Asakusa district was accustomed to holding festivals frequently due to being in the vicinity of a temple. However, samba was little known, not only in the district, but also throughout Japan. The Asakusa Carnival began as a project of the mayor of Taito, who invited the winning group of that year’s Rio Carnival to hold an exhibition.

Today, the Asakusa Carnival is one ofTokyo’s best-known events, attended annually by some 500,000 spectators. The carnival’s popularity has undoubtedly been helped by Japan’s Brazilian population, partly composed of the descendants of emigrants.

 

Where is the Asakusa Samba Carnival

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The carnivals are held in Asakusa district, Taito, Tokyo. The city of Taito has a total area of 10.11 square km2 where a population of 186,000 people live.

 

The troupes wear bright colorful costumes during the Asakusa Samba Carnival

The troupes wear bright colorful costumes during the Asakusa Samba Carnival

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How the Asakusa Samba Carnival is celebrated

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The main attraction of the carnival is thesamba parade that the various samba teams and schools perform in the streets of the district. Around 3,500 people from diverse groups and schools from all over Japan come to the district to take part in one of the biggest annual events. These teams compete through dance, music, float, scenery and other elements to recreate one of the most important carnivals in the world such as that of Rio de Janeiro.

Each group is in charge ofdesigning a particular theme, which will be the starting point for the design of costumes, decorations, choreographies and carriages. The themes can be traditional and feature the same elements of a Brazilian carnival, or they can be unique with elegant or aggressive and humorous characteristics. The parades are accompanied by a diverse scenography and several floats equally decorated with flowers and glitter. Each grouping has accompaniment, either live or reproduced.

The teams compete for titles and prizes that are awarded depending on the category or league of each of the groups. The top league is made up of the most experienced, competitive and committed to the celebrations, integrating authentic Brazilian elements and their dances are highly technical and professional. The minor or secondary league is made up of groupings of less than 150 people and its purpose is to have fun and have a good time. Generally the execution of the choreography and scenery is less intense, but they still comprise wonderful elements worthy of admiration.

In addition, the district also has afood fair where you can find a large amount of sweets and traditional Japanese street food..

 

Tips for going to the Asakusa Samba Carnivals

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If you decide to visit the Asakusa Samba Carnivals, we recommend planning your trip in advance, making a travel itinerary and booking your preferred accommodation in advance. Also, remember to pack light and comfortable clothes and shoes so that you can fully enjoy your carnivals.

Almost 70 countries in the world are allowed to enter Japan without a visa; however, it is recommended that you contact the necessary government agencies to find out if you need any type of documentation to enter the country. During your visit, do not engage in any remunerative activity or work, as the country has strong laws against remunerative activities without the necessary permits.

In addition, the carnival has some rules regarding the artifacts that you can use inside the enclosure. In general, the use of drones and Selfie Sticks are totally forbidden. You will have to resist the temptation to carry one or just take pictures in the traditional way.

 

Events at Asakusa Samba Carnival

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The carnival parade is the main event par excellence and features takes place in a particular way. The parades are carried out by the differentschools and groups that are part of the presentations and are judged to obtain the title of winners. However, the ones that start the parades are the groups that lost the previous year or those that are integrating again after a time of rest.

For both leagues, either the S1 or the S2 league, the order of the parade will depend on the previous year’s performance, so the team with the lowest performance in the previous year will be the one to start the parade. In addition, the point counter of the groupings is very strict, therefore, a team from S1 gets disappointing scores, it will be demoted to the S2 league. However, if any S2 team gets outstanding scores, they will be promoted to the S1 league.

 

 

The teams perform an incredibleshow of color, music and dance to impress the judges and the general public. The groups are set to perform alarge repertoire of scenes and dances depending on the theme of presence. During the event, the judges carefully evaluate the different elements to give their verdict and designate the winners in the different categories to award the prizes.

Once the event is over, thepublic voting takes place and the winners in the different categories are announced. In addition, prizes are awarded by the various contributors and sponsors.

Finally, all teams participating in the parade must confirm their intention to participate in the next Asakusa Samba Carnival through an entry form.

 

Various groups perform in the streets during the Asakusa Samba Carnival

Various groups perform in the streets during the Asakusa Samba Carnival

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Asakusa Carnival Parades

 

About 20 samba groups, from both theprofessional S1 league and the amateur S2 league, participate in an incredible spectacle of hundreds of colorful, brightly themed costumes, stunning floats and live bands. Each of the groups must develop a presentation that carries the various characteristic elements of the parades such as dance, stage art and floats to be evaluated by the jury and win in some established category.

Each group is independent to perform its own theme, but must develop the dresses, scenery and carriages according to their choice. In addition, each grouping must have its respective leader, which is usually the Rainha de Bateria, who is the main figure dancing in front of the parades.

The Asakusa Carnival parade is an incredible harmony where thousands of people perform to transport spectators to the other end of the globe.

 

The Asakusa Samba Carnival is a celebration with almost 50 years of tradition

The Asakusa Samba Carnival is a celebration with almost 50 years of tradition

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Parade route

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The Asakusa Samba Carnival Parade takes place on the main streets of the district

The Asakusa Samba Carnival Parade takes place on the main streets of the district

 

The Asakusa Samba Carnival Parade takes place in the vicinity of the Tobu Skytree.

 

Yakitori is skewered meat that is accompanied by sauces

Yakitori is skewered meat that is accompanied by sauces

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What to eat at the Asakusa Carnival

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The Asakusa Samba Carnival celebrations feature a large food fair and sweet stalls that you can’t miss. At these stalls you can get sweets, treats and some traditional light dishes from Tokyo city and the country. Do not miss the opportunity to try some of the dishes of the varied Japanese cuisine.

One of the foods that you can find is one of the most famous street dishes in Tokyo: the Yakitori. Yakitori is nothing more than pieces of meat on a wooden stick, similar to a chicken skewer. It is grilled and topped with tare sauce. The dish comes seasoned in two ways: Sweet or salted. It is usually served on a small platter.

Another dish you definitely don’t want to miss is Takoyaki. Its name means octopus balls or octopus balls and they are exactly that. The Takoyaki is a small ball made with a wheat flour dough which is arranged on a grid with spherical molds. After pouring the dough into the mold, pieces of octopus, tempura, ginger and green onion are added. Finally, when the dough is cooked on the bottom, it is turned into a spherical shape.  The dish is accompanied by various sauces, mayonnaise and bonito flakes.

In addition, the district offers you a large number of food places where you can find: Kikko, Suke6 Diner, Asakusa Gyukatsu, Fukushige Horumon Osaka-shinmachi Branch and Ramen Yoroiya. These venues generally offer traditional Japanese, Asian and fusion food.

 

Takoyaki is one of the most popular street dishes in Tokyo and Japan

Takoyaki is one of the most popular street dishes in Tokyo and Japan

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Travel Insurance

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From Carnavalesdelmundo.org we recommend to hire a good insurance to visit this carnival and to know the rest of the country. For being our readers we offer a 5% discount on all IATI insurances. Read more information about all insurance offers here:

 

 

What to see and do inside the Asakusa Samba Carnival

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The biggest show of the carnivals is the samba parade, so all you have to do isfind a good place where you can watch the whole show and enjoy the various groups and schools perform a great show full of choreographies, dances, floats and otherworldly scenographic elements.

In addition, you can wander around the various food stalls and find a treat or dish that catches your eye. We encourage you to try as much as you can, as food in Japan is generally relatively inexpensive.

If you don’t want to get complicated, here you can book interesting tours in English in this city:.

Guided tours in Spanish around the world

 

What to see and do outside the Asakusa Samba Carnivals

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If you have some time, you can also visit the many tourist attractions that the Asakusa district has to offer.

Hōzōmon

It is a structure that is characterized by having two large gates that will direct you to Sensō-ji. It was built in 942 BC; however, it was destroyed in 1631 and rebuilt in 1636. It has two large statues that have a height of 5 and a half meters and represents Niō, the guardian of the deities of Buddha.

 

Asakusa Shrine

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It is one of the most famous shrines in the city. The shrine commemorates the 3 men who founded Sensō-ji and is part of a larger grouping of sacred buildings in the locality. The shrine was built in 1649.

 

Sensō-ji

It is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Tokyo. The temple is dedicated to Kannon Bosatsu, the Bodhisattva of compassion. It is currently one of the most visited temples in the world, receiving more than 30 million people every year.

Also if you want to visit museums and important buildings in this city we recommend that you book your ticket in advance through Tiquets: .

Book tickets in the city you are visiting

 

Safety at the Asakusa Samba Carnival

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The Asakusa district is extremely quiet and safe. In fact, it is one of the most visited areas in the whole city of Tokyo, so safety is a must in the district. Your best ally during your carnival vacation is common sense, use it and we assure you that you will have a great carnival.

It is always a good idea to keep your valuables in a safe place to avoid theft or loss. Also, we recommend the following products to store your valuables safely:

 

 

Weather at the Asakusa Samba Carnival

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The weather in the Asakusa district during the festivities is quite pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 24 to 31 degrees Celsius.

 

Groups recreate traditional Brazilian carnival costumes during the Asakusa Samba Carnival

Groups recreate traditional Brazilian carnival costumes during the Asakusa Samba Carnival

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How to get to the Asakusa Samba Carnival

 

How to get there by plane

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The closest airport to the district is Haneda International Airport, which receives a good number of flights from various parts of the world. Once here, you can use the various means of transportation to get to the Asakusa district..

In addition, you can also land atNarita International Airport, which is a few kilometers farther away, but receives even more flights than Haneda.

We recommend buying airline tickets through Kiwi.com or Skyscanner where they are usually cheaper. More information on this link to review Kiwi.com..

 

How to get there by train

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From Haneda Airport Terminal 1 or 2 you can take the train to Sengakuji using the Airport-Kyuko line. Once there, take the subway to Asakusa..

You can also get there fromTokyo Station, Ueno, Shinjuku, Shinagawa and Ikebukuro.

 

How to get there by bus

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From Haneda Airport Terminal 1 you can take a bus directly to Asakusa.

 

How to get there by car

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From Haneda Airport you can take a car or cab directly to the Asakusa district. If you decide to take a cab, the cab fare to the district ranges from US$80 to US$100.

 

Where to stay at the Asakusa Samba Carnival

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Booking.com

 

Henn na Hotel Tokyo Asakusa Tawaramachi

4-star hotel near subway station. Rooms feature kettle, air conditioning and TV. Facilities offer bar, elevator, laundry service, restaurant and family rooms.

 

Onyado Nono Asakusa Natural Hot Spring

4-star hotel. Facilities offer buffet or Asian-style breakfast and is located near Senso-ji. It also offers a restaurant, parking and free Wi-Fi.

 

The Gate Hotel Asakusa Kaminarimon by Hulic

4 star hotel near the subway station. The rooms are furnished, TV, desk and refrigerator. In addition, the hotel has a terrace, bar, restaurant, elevator and free wifi.

We recommend you use Booking.com to book hotels at a good price, check more information here:.



 

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