The sounds of Samba music echoing through Yoyogi Park and the smell of carne asada luring the holiday hordes to the Yoyogi Park Event Space are the hallmarks of the Cinco de Mayo festival in Tokyo. Add some tequila and sunshine to these event ingredients and a large crowd soon gathers.
Held over the Golden Week period in Japan on the third and fourth of May, Cinco de Mayo is an annual event held to celebrate the Mexican army’s defeat of the French in a battle over 150 years ago - not Mexican independence as it is often thought to be.
But although Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican festival, is has become a festival for the Americas in general and attracts South and North Americans alike to partake in the festivities.
Event organiser Steven Kim said it was the third year his company was running the event in Tokyo with around 100,000 people attending over a two day period to eat, drink, and watch the numerous bands and dancers on stage from 10am to 8pm on the third, and 10am to 5.30pm on the fourth.
“About 15 countries participated this year, more than last year, and this really is a very international festival for all of the Americas. Many people come together and enjoy the large variety of food,” he said.
These countries include Chile, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Brazil and many latin countries above and between.
A contingent from each of these countries among others raised their hands and cheered in pride as their nation was called out from the stage throughout the day.
There was plenty of dancing and laughing as the crowd moved in the distinct latin style mirroring the eye-catching brazilian burlesque dancers or the various other latin dancers in colourful attire that performed on stage.
It wasn’t long before a group of the large crowd formed into a bunny hop dance that meandered back and forth in front of the stage.
Despite long lines that snake their way through the festival, the food on offer was diverse from an array of various cultures with the trademark burrito and taco but also a range of meats on the BBQ and a large selection of different drinks.The salivating event goers passed the time by sipping on drinks while the music played on and were rewarded for their patience.
There are not only food stores, but a number of colourful clothes and tie-dye shirts along with various trinkets from the Americas.
There were over 50 stands at the festival with some having their own bachata and reggeaton dancers.
Steven Kim said the shows in the morning cater more towards children followed by entertainment more targeted to adults in the evening.
He said it was the second year he would hold in the event in Osaka also.