If you had to name cultural influences on Japan, where would you begin? China – of course. Korea – you’ll find Korean restaurants everywhere. Brazil – ? Yes, Brazil.
Early in the 1900’s, a large contingent of Japanese people known as nikkei (lit. “descendants of the sun”) made the long trek to Brazil in the hopes of finding great wealth. This didn’t really pan out, but the Japanese community remained there and formed a new cultural off-shoot. Decades later, as Japan became an economic powerhouse, a lot of the descendants of the original nikkei living overseas came back to Japan in the hopes of finding great wealth. This didn’t really pan out either, with the Japanese economy tanking from the nineties through to today. Although the nikkei were granted special immigration rights, being of Japanese descent, their non-native-level Japanese skills meant they were largely only qualified for low-paying manual labour. With the number of jobless rising in the recent tough economic times, the government is now literally paying Nikkei Brazilians between $3k – $4k AUD to leave and never come back, neatly exporting some of their unemployment problems.
Anyway enough of that kind of geo-cultural talk, it’s samba time! A big contingent of Japanese-Brazilians in Japan means that every year in Asakusa there’s a massive summer parade with all things Brazilian: bright colours, feathers, music and plenty of bare flesh. Get there early though – arriving one hour late like the author will only guarantee you a spot behind a six-deep crowd, wondering why it is no-one has yet invented telescoping cyborg arms for taking photographs above people’s heads.
Against expectations, this guy is making those sequins and feathers work for him.
These guys were capoeira-ing their way all the way down the parade route in 30+ degree heat. It looked exhausting.
Threading your way down through the crowds was a nightmare. A co-worker got their 1 hour before start time and still didn’t get a good place.
Japanese summer festival food – watermelon, cold drinks and of course, cucumber on a stick.
Self-confidence is key to participation, no doubt: