Big in Japan

2009 August 31
Mt. Fuji. by skyseeker, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License by  skyseeker

Seeing the reactions from many  after the Japanese couple Hiroshi & Kyoko Yamao won the mundial de tango salón as the first non-Argentines, it seems many in the tango world are unaware of the long traditions of tango in Japan. Or maybe some practice selective memory…

Todotango has an interesting article on the rise of tango in Japan. While the tradition is certainly shorter in terms of years since the first impact than in Europe (Megata’s first contact with tango was in Paris in the 1920s), it does not lack much, and in a way it represents a tradition closer to the original than in Europe. And thanks in great deal to the Japanese collectors, we can today enjoy reissues of long lost treasures from the Argentine masters.

El barón Megata, en el año veinte,
se tomaba el buque con rumbo a París,
y allí, entre los tangos y el “dolce far niente”,
el japonesito se hizo bailarín.
Flaco y bien plantado. Pinta milonguera.
De empilche a lo duque, aun siendo barón.
Bailó con Pizarro, y una primavera
empacó los discos y volvió a Japón.

Y así llevó el tango
a tierra nipona,
donde gratarola
lo enseñó a bailar.
Cuentan que Megata
no cobraba un mango,
por amor al tango
y por ser bacán.

No sólo enseñaba cortes y quebradas,
también daba clases de hombría de bien;
junaba de noches y de madrugadas,
piloteaba aviones y más de un beguén.
Y tal vez ahora, que está aquí presente,
mientras una Sony nos pasa “Chiqué”,
alguien, allá en Tokio, elegantemente,
baile a lo Megata sin saber quién fue.

Luis Alposta: A lo Megata

So in a sense, that it was a Japanese couple that broke the line of all Argentine campeones mundiales, should come as no surprise. From my own anecdotal experience, the Japanese tend to be excellent dancers.

A friend of mine once half jokingly said that the quality of the Japanese/Asian dancers fits in well with the Japanese (and later other Asian countries) way of manufacturing, and the results thereof that hit post war Europe and USA. First copy. Then improve.

3 Responses leave one →
  1. 2009 August 31

    Thank you for the piece of tango history. I was totally unaware of the long history of tango in Japan.

    I am wondering who is practicing selective memory…. 🙂

  2. 2009 September 1

    Hehe, there were some comments by certain Argentines I had in mind. Won’t name anyone, though…

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