Saturday, September 20, 2008

One Hundred years of Japanese immigration in Brazil

This is mine and GISA Miles recent article for déjà vu magazine. Hope you all enjoy, and if you do, please leave a comment.

One Hundred years of Japanese immigration in Brazil

By Anna Avalanche and Gisa Miles

This year the Japanese community in Brazil celebrates one hundred years of immigration. June, 18 1908 is considered the milestone of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to Brazil. The 781 impoverished pioneers on the ship Kasato Maru and the thousands who followed them, never meant to stay beyond a few years on Brazil. But who could imagine which nowadays, the Japanese-origin community in Brazil will be the largest outside Japan, with an estimated 1.6 million person.

The first 165 families traveled 52 days on the ship and berth in the city of Santos, São Paulo dreaming with a better life. Most of these immigrants were formed by farmers, who came to Brazil to work in the prosperous farm coffee from western state of Sao Paulo. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Brazil needed workforce for foreign crops of coffee, while Japan was through a period of high population growth and there weren’t enough jobs for the whole population. Then to meet the needs of both countries, was sealed an immigration agreement between the Brazilian and Japanese governments.

In the following years the immigration continued. From 1918 until 1940, approximately one hundred and sixty thousand Japanese came to live in the Brazilian lands. Most immigrants prefer the state of Sao Paulo, however, some families spread itself to other corners of Brazil even in the Amazon forest in Para.

The Japaneses worked hard and soon they were immigrants in Brazil managed to add money and buy their own land. After tough years of labor on the coffee farms, Japanese immigrants looked for work in big cities like Sao Paulo, where they flocked to the downtown area because rent was cheaper.

The Japanese community in Brazil is already in its 4th generation. The descendants of the immigrants perform all kind of activity within the cultural and economic sectors. Immigrants and their descendants who have already close ties with Brazil take part and contribute with love and dedication to the construction of a better and developed country.

But the development of agriculture was the main contribution of Japanese immigrants to Brazil. Food has been one of the greatest beneficiaries of the cultural blending. They helped develop several varieties of fruits and vegetables that did not exist in Brazil including persimmon, fuji apples and ponkan oranges and improved local farming and fishing techniques. Brazil has even allowed a Japanese influence on its most famous drink, the caipirinha. Mixed with Japan's traditional rice wine instead of Brazilian cachaça, the sakerinhas have become a popular option at many bars.

Japanese community in brazil has preserved the language, customs and traditions, such as the Bon-Odori dance. The dance of delicate movement is a recognition by the good crops. Sao Paulo's downtown district of Liberdade, or freedom, is like a slice of Tokyo, its main street lined with red-colored torii gates of Shinto shrines. Soba noodle and sushi restaurants vie with karaoke bars and supermarkets selling sticky natto beans and myriad types of soy sauce.

Today the Japanese heroes are increasingly present in the Brazilian daily life, influencing children, youth and teenagers. The Mangá (Comic stories in Japanese) has won more and more admires in Brazil and spreads to all corners of the country.

The celebretions of one hundred years of immigration was a great event. Prince Naruito participated of wonderful tributes like the inaugurate of the sculpture in honor of the centennial of Japanese immigration idealized by Tome Ohtake, a Japanese imigrant who became the "lady of brasilian plastic arts".

Inside second life there is also an important art exhibition that celebrates the Japanese immigration in Brazil. The professor Hinedori Watanave and his student team of Tokyo Metropolitan University are developing 3D image database of Oscar Niemeyer on Second Life. This is an official art project of "The 100th anniversary of exchanging between Japan and Brazil".

Japan in Brazil. Brazil in Japan

The two worlds exist in both of the countries. There are more than three hundred thousand Brazilians living in Japan and working in factories. The same people who left their own country in a time of so many difficulties also learned open their doors when Brazilians have done the other way. And who would imagine: the Portuguese today is almost a second language in many Japanese cities. Appears in transit plates, is spoken in the streets and heard in the largest issuer of radio and TV in Japan. The Dekasegis are repeating the general pattern of immigrants: while most of them plan to save up enough money in Japan to return to Brazil and set up a business of their own, a majority end up settling down in their new country.

Now, the same way that Japanese immigrants brought, fix part of their culture here, the dekasseguis make it there. Except that this time these customs and traditions are merged with what their ancestors learned in Brazil. It’s all a great mixture of culture and this is the best about globalization.

This article has been sponsored by AA Trade Company, Cleary (128,128,0)

For more pictures and information see:
Portuguese blog:

1 comment:

visit Brasil said...

Excellent article!

The influence of the japanese inmigration is specially alive in the distric of "Liberdade" in the historic centre of Sao paulo.

Have a look at these links: