One of Brazil’s strongest attributes is the fact that Brazilian people are a result of several different nationalities. Within this cultural mix, it is the distinctive Japanese immigration, that mostly converged to São Paulo city. They arrived in Brazil at the beginning of the 1900s to work in the coffee fields and ended up concentrating in “Liberdade” area. Liberdade, which means freedom in Portuguese, attracted Japanese immigrants due to its low rental prices, at that time. Over the years, the Japanese developed the place and put their distinguished mark. They set up shops, hostels, small productions places to manufacture typical food, such as "tofu" and typical clothes. They also built a school for children from immigrant parents. All those past projects turned into this remarkable neighborhood that brings Japanese culture to São Paulo city. Walking into this place make you really feel like wandering in Japan. Although I have never been to Japan, the proximity with their culture made me believe I could walk in their country through the streets of Liberdade. From the other side of the world, it is possible to experience the richness of their traditions. If you want to discover more and get a better knowledge of the Japanese culture, you can visit “Museo Histórico da Imigração Japonesa no Brasil” (Historical Museum of the Japanese Immigration to Brazil).
When you arrive at Liberdade, you will recognize immediately that you are entering into a different place. The “Torii Gate" at Galvão Bueno street is a typical Japanese tower that marks the entrance of the region. Another peculiar feature is the “suzuranto” lights that decorate the streets and increase the oriental atmosphere. Wandering around “Rua da Glória” and the nearby streets is already a pleasant entertainment. I particularly like the food shops, where I go to buy typical ingredients to cook “sukiyaki”- a traditional Japanese meal which consists of a mix of thin slices of meat cooked with vegetables and soya sauce.
However, the most popular attraction is the street market, called “Feirinha da Liberdade.” This typical event happens every weekend since 1973. In addition to oriental crafts, you can try many Japanese popular foods at very accessible prices. But if you prefer to have your meal in a more traditional restaurant, you can try one of the options of “Espaço Kazu.” This Japanese Gourmet Complex offers several places to enjoy the Japanese culinary. At the modern and comfortable restaurant “Izakaya,” you can eat not only the world-known sushi and sashimi but also “Teppan Yakis,” “Teishokus” and other delicious specialties. Everything is made to ensure authenticity and high quality, something that we could expect from the Japanese orientation. If you want to dive into an even more genuine environment, then your place is “Hinodê.” It is the oldest restaurant in Liberdade. The wood decoration, the Japanese flags, and the soft music will take you back in time and into the Asian continent.
Nevertheless, Japanese culture is not only attracting visitors due to its traditions and history. Young generation fans of “anime," which means animation in Japanese, come to Liberdade to shop for Mangas, the Japanese comic books. You can find traditional book shops such as “Livraria Sol” at “Praça da Liberdade” or “Fonomag” in Glória Street. You will probably be tempted to acquire other sorts of books about culinary, crafts, origami, etc., all imported from Japan. Although Liberdade became home for other Asian countries, the influential Japanese culture is still holding the area into its origins. You could be surprised to see a celebration of Chinese New Year in the neighborhood. Anyway, Liberdade will always represent the symbol of the most significant Japanese population outside their country. Enjoy the trip and “Arigatou”: thank you!
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