Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dance Festivals!

During summer, there is a festival almost every day in Tokyo! Itsumi and I attended two dance festivals recently. The first was a samba festival, in the style of Brazilian carnival.

This festival may have originated because of the many Brazilians living in Japan. Many of the Brazilians in Japan are actually Japanese who immigrated to Brazil in the early 1900s when opportunities for farmers were better in Brazil than in Japan. Later, some of these Japanese-Brazilians immigrated back to Japan in order to work in the booming industries here. Now that there is a recession, Japan is encouraging this labor force to move back to Brazil. Just as in the U.S., immigrants are sometimes welcomed here and other times encouraged to leave, depending on the economy.
In any case, the samba festival consisted of a parade of dancers dressed (or barely dressed) in beautiful costumes. A few dance troupes were comprised of Brazilians, but most of the dancers were Japanese.

The skirts on the compasses pictured below twirled around and around.
The costumes were beautiful and I was so happy to see samba, but I felt like the dancers didn't dance with the same energy and dedication as the carnival dancers I saw in South America.

I also noticed that the audience consisted mainly of older men with big cameras!
The next weekend, Itsumi and I went to an awa-odori festival, which is a type of Japanese dance performed to Japanese instruments.
Although a typhoon blew in part way through the parade, the dancers danced with as much energy as I've ever seen anywhere.

The women in the awa odori parade dance on their toes while wearing geta, or traditional Japanese shoes. They danced on their toes through the entire parade route, and I never saw so much energy!

The samba festival was beautiful, but the Japanese dancers were simply wearing another culture's costumes and dancing to another culture's music. The awa odori festival, in contrast, is a Japanese tradition and despite the typhoon the dancers danced and the musicians played with all of their energy, and it was truly beautiful.

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