The Japantown in Brazil

The Bairro Oriental (Oriental neighboorhood) of São Paulo - living within the chaos of its walls, the same question crossed my aching mind. ‘Why did these Japanese people traverse the ocean and build a town for themselves half way cross the planet?’ In this column, the author conveys the history and current state of the Japantowns in Brazil he has visited, while simultaneously being conscious of the above question.

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Chapter 5 Pinheiros District - The Setting Sun of a Japantown

In and around São Paulo city, there are many areas referred to as “Japantowns.” Before and after World War II, the area known as the “Conde District” was the largest of the Japantowns. The Pinheiros Region followed in Nikkei population with around 200 Nikkei residents (Hanada, 1970, p.573). And after that, the area around the Municipal Central Market, which was named “Cantareira-gai” after the street (Reference Map 5-1).

The Pinheiros District is around 7km from the city center and from long ago, functioned as an inn town along the highway towards Sorocaba and Paraná. From the 19th century ...

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Chapter 4 (Auxiliary Chapter) Yguazú Colony - A Community of Craftsmen

From January to February of 2007, I took a trip through Paraguay and the northern region of Paraná. Though the main goal of this series is to bring to light the history and current state of Japantowns in Brazil, in this auxiliary chapter, I would like to include my own impressions of the Nikkei colony of Yguazú from my visit.

Foz do Iguaçu, famous for the Iguazu falls, is connected to Paraguay by a single bridge over the Paraná River. Once across this “Bridge of Friendship,” one arrives in the Ciudad Del Este, Paraguay’s second largest city. The ...

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Chapter 3: The Conde District - Brazil’s First Japantown - 3) The Storm of War and the Chaotic Aftermath

Even after the Taishō Elementary School, Brazil’s first Nikkei schooling system, moved to San Joaquin Street, the Japantown of the Conde District continued to grow. It is believed that its most prosperous days were between the mid-1930s and around 1940. 

The Japanese community in São Paulo city at this time had risen out of the bleak years of 1914-15. The residents of Conde had “climbed up the hill,” reaching the height of the Conselheiro Furtado era, and advanced to Conde do Pinhal, Tabatingüera, and Irmã Simpliciana. (Handa, 1970, p.572).

It is estimated that around 1933, the ...

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Chapter 2: The Conde District - Brazil’s First Japantown - 2) The Birth of Taishō Elementary School

Because Japanese community groups and parent’s associations provided the foundation for the management of many of the Nikkei school systems before the war, it was natural for these schools to be established in areas with large Nikkei populations. Here, I would like to provide a general overview of the Taishō Elementary School which was established in the Conde District (Reference Map 2, 3, 4), the first Japantown in Brazil, and the circumstances of those days.

The Taishō Elementary School was founded as Brazil’s first Nikkei school and was located in the heart of the Conde District, on Conde ...

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Chapter 1 The Conde District - Brazil’s First Japantown - 1) Origins

São Paulo is a city of hills. When walking around Centro, the downtown area, you may be overwhelmed by the numerous slopes and wonder why a town was built in an area with so many hills.

On January 25, 1554, Father José de Ancheta, along with 13 other Jesuit priests, established a town with Saint Paolo as its guardian angel on the Piratininga plateau (FAUSTO, 1994, p.93). The town was built at the top of the hill in order to protect against a feared Indian attack.

Since then, São Paulo expanded along the surrounding hills, centering around ...

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