Multiculturalism in Japan: The Contradiction of Samba Matsuri

Today’s globalism and cosmopolitanism highlight nations’ economic ties by commodifying the diversity of peoples, cultures, and languages present in their own borders, becoming a local multiculturalism. In Japan, this extends to highlighting the heterogeneous population of a country that others consider homogeneous. In this presentation, I examine the consumption of a Brazilian national imaginary in Japan, not as a country of “poverty and crime” but as “Brasil Fantástico!”: land of samba, açaí, eternal summer, and carnaval. I argue that the use of samba in matsuri stereotypes, contrasts, and further essentializes Japan’s multiculturalism in its presentation of a sexualized, racialized Brazilian musical form. In particular, I’ll discuss the historicity of the Asakusa Samba Matsuri and the fantastical presentation of samba as a redemptionary medium in Shiozaki Shōhei’s Akaneiro no yakusoku: samba do kingyo (Goldfish Go Home, 2012).

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