Strikes me as being comical, but no worse than the Macarena wave that hit the USA:
Modern Japan's top samurai shaking it to a samba beat
Mon Feb 28,11:22 AM ET
TOKYO (AFP) - Forget about the courageous chivalry or serene mental concentration of the feudal-era samurai. Japan's coolest samurai today is clad in a dazzling golden kimono and shaking his hips to the rhythm of the samba.
Until 2003, Ken Matsudaira, fondly called by the nickname "Matsuken", was known in Japan as a solemn actor playing a heroic shogun in a television drama series that lasted for a quarter of a century.
But in a sign of a changing Japan, the feudal fighter is now swaying to a giddy beat from halfway across the globe.
He has caused a sensation among young and old alike with CDs of his latest song, the "Matsuken Samba II", complete with DVDs of his choreographer giving dancing tips, selling 500,000 copies. Other Matsuken goods on sale range from golden kimonos to top-knot wigs to postal stamps.
The audience goes wild with excitement as the one-time stoic hero, with snow-white make-up and glittering strands of hair dangling from the temples, appears on stage with a horde of gaudy female dancers.
"Hit the bongo, sound the samba!" Matsuken breaks into song, skipping about as the modern-day samurai invites young men and women to dance all night with him.
"Samba, Viva, Samba! Matsuken Samba, Ole!" he sings, striking a momentary pose with his arms stretched out in the air.
Save for a merchant's hairdo, the 51-year-old actor puts on the full act of a samurai, even though the class of knights who roamed Japan to enforce order was abolished after the nation began its modernization in 1868.
Matsudaira's trademark role is playing the eighth shogun, or top samurai, of the Tokugawa Shogunate, spreading a code of frugality and chivalry during the 18th century.
Matsudaira starred as the noble hero in an era when corporate Japan was confident about dominating the world. He has become an icon of an entirely different sort in post-bubble Japan, a country where men's cosmetics are a major growth industry.
Matsudaira -- who is gearing up to dance with thousands of fans in March at the Tokyo Dome stadium -- said his sudden boom in popularity since last year had surprised even him.
"In this slack economic situation, people are not full of vigor," he told AFP. "I want to cheer them up."
He said the flashy show was his own invention. He decided to add glittering spangles to his dangling hair strands and picked shiny clothes in New York, Milan or New Zealand to make the costume.
"Everybody is watching the only one person, me, on the stage and my action triggers a wave of reactions. If I finger at somewhere in the second-floor, it would excite the audience around there," he said.
"That makes me more vigorous and very happy."
The idea of the icon of chivalry breaking out for make-up and samba has won Matsudaira legions of fans ranging from older Japanese who remember him as the serious samurai, to some of the gay community who see him almost as a drag queen.
On hearing the word Matsuken, people on the streets of Tokyo cannot withhold their smiles as they consider the transition of television's "Lord Shogun", the handsome warrior on a white horse.
Tomiko Chugo, a 72-year-old housewife, is not bothered by what Matsudaira has mutated into.
"He is so cool, gorgeous," said Chugo, a former ballroom dancer who is increasingly attracted by samba.
"Everything goes on his stage but what matters is he makes me feel happy," she said.
A 24-year-old computer systems marketing worker said: "It amazes me that he can go that far at his age as we tend to fit ourselves into a certain mold."
"Matsuken has broken out of that shell," he said, praising the actor as "a true entertainer".
Matsudaira used to dedicate the second half of his show to something western such as tap dancing or piano following a samurai drama in the first part.
But he introduced Latin music to the second part in 1987, starting with Mambo but choreographed by an expert on more static traditional Japanese dancing.
He moved to the samba beat in 1992 with the "Matsuken Samba I" and then a second version in 1994.
He initially confined his gaudy show to the limited eyes of theaters. But he decided last July to take it to a wider audience when he put on his performance at a major Tokyo concert festival, where under fireworks he shocked much of the crowd which knew him only as the macho shogun.
Within a month his CDs came out, propelling him to new stardom.
One obstacle for audiences excited by the Matsuken Samba II is being told to sit down by guards, as people in theaters are told to sit down for security reasons.
For those who want to dance wildly with him, Matsudaira is to perform on March 8 at the Tokyo Dome -- home of the Yomiuri Giants baseball team -- with 10,000 tickets for dancing on the ground and the same number for stadium seats.
He plans to enter the stadium on a galloping white horse in an authentic shogun costume. But to perform the Matsuken Samba, he will transform into a multicolor kimono even flashier than his usual golden robe.