Sao Paulo's Japantown
Earlier this year I took a trip to Brazil and visited the Japantown in Sao Paulo, an area called Liberdade. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Japanese immigration to Brazil. Today, 1.5 million Brazilians claim Japanese ancestry.
Like Little Tokyo, Liberdade is peppered with Japanese markets, gift shops, restaurants and other small businesses. Like LT, they have a popular ramen shop where people wait for 30 minutes just to get a seat. Like LT, it is a common sight to see elderly Japanese walking down the street or sitting at a cafe enjoying a cup of coffee. And like LT, the community struggles to maintain it's identity as a cultural enclave and worries about their future.
I ate at one of the Japanese restaurants in Liberdade and ordered a California roll. But in Brazil, they don't put avocado in the California roll. Can you guess what they use instead? .......mango! Why don't they just call it a Brazil roll? There is also a stand that sells takoyaki, but in addition to octopus filling, they make shrimp and cheese flavors.
I was impressed with the weekend market in Liberdade. Vendors set up tents and sell handmade crafts, clothing and gift items. There were also some really good food booths. This happens every weekend and brings in large crowds.
I think we should have a monthly street fair and flea market here in Little Tokyo. I know that local business owners would kill this idea, but we need to make LT more lively and give people a reason to come and hang out here. A street fair would increase business for everyone because it would attract more people to the community.
You can see a photo essay of my trip to Liberdade on the Discover Nikkei website:
Liberdade - Sao Paulo's Japantown
Posted by bobby