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Every August, the streets of buttoned-down, uptight central Tokyo are invaded by the world's sexiest, coolest carnival and told to get funky. The result is a clash of civilisations to make even the least prudish blush to their roots.
Gorgeous, lushly upholstered women wearing little more than pink feathers and winning smiles file past legions of straight-laced office ladies and dazed salary-men, trailing behind them the razzamatazz and noise of a full-blown samba festival.
Some of the men never recover. Others remember to bring their cameras and spend more time training suspiciously long telephoto lenses at the eye-watering cleavages than watching the floats or listening to the glorious music, created by dancing teams of percussion and Latin groups.
Japan's version of the Rio Carnival has been dancing its way through the streets of Asakusa in Tokyo's shitamachi (downtown) area for a quarter of a century and has grown into one of the biggest samba festivals outside Brazil.
The carnival transforms the strip along Kaminarimon-dori and Umamichi-dori avenues into a weird and wonderful hybrid of two mismatched cultures. As one tourist site puts it: it's almost like being in Rio, except that the people don't look Latin.
This year, 500,000 people are expected to watch the fun on August 27, and some will join in, if they can overcome the shyness that afflicts many Japanese. To help them find their mojo, the organisers have laid on dance classes for 1,000 people in the morning of the carnival at the Asakusa View Hotel.
Everybody has their highlight. Mine is watching the riot of sequins, boobs and batons parade past staid old Sensoji Temple, one of the traditional jewels in Japan's cultural heritage. A better example of cultural contrasts - the shaven-headed, austere world of aesthetic Buddhism versus the baton-twirling hedonistic display outside the gates - would be hard to find.
The festival provides a rare burst of multiculturalism in what is one of the most homogenous countries on the planet. Fewer than 1.5 per cent of Japan's population is foreign, a figure that includes more than 200,000 Brazilians, who make up the country's third-largest ethnic group after Chinese and Koreans.
Many are here because they can prove ancestry to some of the thousands of Japanese who emigrated to South America after the second world war. Most slave away in car factories and construction sites, but once a year they like to party. And few people party like Brazilians.
After a slow and difficult birth against opposition from city authorities, the carnival has now become a permanent fixture on Tokyo's cultural landscape and has helped raise the confidence of Brazilians in Japan, and even sparked a boom in all things South American. The event is one welcome sign that Japan may be trying to mix a little ethnic colour into its grey cultural palette.
The 25th Asakusa Samba Carnival, Sat, Aug 27 1.15pm-6pm; nearest station is Asakusa (exit A18) on Asakusa or Ginza lines (G19). Inquiries: (81 3) 3847 0038