It takes two to tango and Japan together with its history are making a good couple. The Argentinian dance grew in popularity among the Japanese, due to the country’s troubled history which mixes well with the feelings of sadness, disappointment, tragedy and hope that punctuate the tango, researchers think.
It could be difficult to associate the passionate tango with Japan, but Tokyo alone hosts dozens of venues.
The reasons behind this popularity can be attributed to the music’s nostalgic sentiments which help the Japanese connect to their own history, according to researchers at Royal Holloway.
The sad and intense feelings associated with tango resonate with Japanese people who have seen the tragedies of war, as well as many natural disasters.
Lead researcher Yuiko Asaba, PhD student from the Department of Music at Royal Holloway and tango musician, said: “The wave of immigrants who arrived in Argentina at the end of the 19th century, whose different cultures contributed to the evolution of tango, had a profound sense of longing for the places they left behind.
“This sentimentality is echoed in the feelings of my grandparents’ generation in Japan, who had to completely rebuild their lives and land following the Second World War, and is also felt by more recent generations who have repeatedly endured the damage caused by earthquakes,” she added, according to the international press.
“It was originally a dance only practised by the Japanese aristocracy when it was introduced from Paris in the early 20th century. But the tango is now very much part of the Japanese national identity and they have certainly adopted this exotic music as their own,” Yuiko added.