Asakusa Samba Carnival
Asakusa Samba Carnival is held in Tokyo’s Asakusa, on the 17 and 18 September, this colorful contest and parade of around 5,000 samba dancers and teams from across Japan attracts over 500,000 spectators each year. If you are visiting Japan in the midsummer, you should definitely add this one-day festival to your plans!.
Asakusa is one of Tokyo’s historic downtown areas. There are many sightseeing spots centered around Sensoji Temple, where you can feel the old Edo culture and Japanese culture all in one place, and it is a popular area for foreign visitors. And this is where the Asakusa Samba Carnival, Japan’s largest Carnival event, takes place. It gets a lot of attention, particularly on TV, and it will probably pop up in one of your tour books
Asakusa Samba Carnival started in 1981 as an event intending to revitalize the town. Today, it has become one of Japan’s leading events, attracting some 500,000 spectators every year. The popular highlight is the contest-style parade with around 5,000 participants! While riding the rhythm of authentic samba, the gorgeous costumes, and performances of each team charm the audience.
In the Asakusa Samba Carnival Parade Contest, samba teams gather from all over the country. Teams compete for rank. So its a massive contest as well as a parade, so expect to see teams going all out to impress.
Asakusa Samba Best Viewing Spots
The best spot to see the Asakusa Samba Carnival is on Kaminarimon-dori Street, the street passing in front of Sensoji Temple’s Kaminarimon Gate. It starts in front of Sensoji Temple’s Nitenmon Gate on Umamichi-dori Street, passes in front of the Kaminarimon Gate at Sensoji Temple, and continues for about 800 meters to the end of Kaminarimon Street. There is no doubt that it will be exhilarating no matter where you look at it.
The recommended viewpoints are the start point side and the goal point side. On the side of the starting point near the judges’ seats, you can see some of the most exciting moments right after the start. As the dancers reach the goal point, you can see them giving the crowd something to remember.
On the day of the carnival, expect huge crowds. Be sure to not try to get there too early in the morning. An excellent time to observe the events and see how excited the whole city is is at the Asakusa Samba Carnival’s opening.
At the time of holding in 2019, there were ticket sales on the day for chair seats, which came with an original item as a gift, for a sponsorship fee of 6500 yen. If you want to get close up to the action and have a relaxing time at it, be sure to check it out on the official website below.
Asakusa Samba times
It starts at 1pm and ends at 6pm. During the five-hour carnival, this rough time schedule will determine when and in what league the parade will take place.
・1pm: Communication League (Executive committee and local children participate)
・Theme Samba League (Companies and authentic Brazilian dancers participate)
・1:30pm: S2 League team, S1 League team
It’s a long parade that takes 5 hours to complete, so it’s a good idea to think about which part of the parade you want to watch and when to take a break.
Getting to Asakusa Samba
There are many ways of getting to Asakusa, so access is straightforward. Depending on where you want to see the parade, you can choose between two stations.
First, at Asakusa Station, which is near the starting point of the parade, there are four subway/train lines with access: Toei Asakusa Line, Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Tobu Isesaki Line, and the Tsukuba Express. Also, the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line Tawaramachi Station near the goal is also convenient.
The whole Asakusa area is filled with the Carnival atmosphere on the day, so you can quickly walk around, follow the crowds, and find your favorite spot.
Tips for the Asakusa Samba Carnival
There are a few points to remember to enjoy this fun festival event. Summer in Japan is hot and humid, and Asakusa Samba Carnival will be held in the scorching summer heat. Be careful about heatstroke. Be sure to buy water or a sports drink in advance and stay hydrated; sunblock and sunglasses are recommended as well.
Cafes, restaurants and convenience stores near the venue are open on the day of the event, and you can purchase drinks at shops along the road; however, they are very crowded, it’s best to bring your own drinks.
Also, public toilets are available around the Nakamise Shopping Street, and in the nearby department store. Since there are not many, it is advisable to check where they are located in advance and to refrain from drinking alcohol, which will make you need it more frequently.
And of course have fun and enjoy the Samba!