OHAYO Bom dia

My grandfather immigrated to Brazil from Japan about 100 years ago, and I was born in Brazil. That is why I strive to become a ‘bridge’ between Brazil and Japan. I treasure the ‘Japan’ rooted deep in my heart, and I want to keep that part of me protected in my homeland of Brazil. This series was composed with those feelings in mind. (“Bom Dia” is “Good morning” in Portuguese)

identity en ja es pt

Chapter 12: About the Japanese Accent

Ever since I was in school, I’ve heard that “Japanese-Brazilians are bad at Portuguese”.  Poor writing was a given…it was hard to understand what they said…they had strange pronunciation…bottom line, it sounded like Japanese.

Because of that, there were children who unfortunately stopped going to school.

Back then, when you walked into a store, it wasn’t uncommon for the clerk to greet you by pretending to speak with a Japanese accent.

Even at college, I could quickly sense that kind of prejudice from little things.  One day, here’s what a Japanese-Brazilian girl who was ...

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identity en ja es pt

Chapter 11: What’s your name?

My name is Laura. Its root language is Latin, and it means “success”.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a Japanese name.

However, the majority of people in my generation don’t have a Brazilian name.

If you only had a Japanese name, you were teased by classmates at school, and even the teachers would make inappropriate comments.  So more than a few Japanese Brazilians had a tough time back then.

Also, there were students who quit going to school because they were told their Portuguese pronunciation was “weird” or “awful”. It was a type of “bullying.”

But that’s a ...

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identity en ja es pt

Chapter 10: Dreams of a Movie Girl


I was always hanging around my mom. When she was preparing meals, I was always peaking over the table asking, “What’s that?”

From my earliest memories, I remember being intrigued by drawings I saw around the kitchen. Even now, I remember them clearly. The ones that were particularly appealing to me were the picture on the sardine cans and the drawing on the packs of oatmeal.

It looked to me like the sardine was wearing glasses, so I told my mom “It’s Papai (Father Noel),” which made her laugh. The Quaker in the picture on the oatmeal ...

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community en ja es pt

Chapter 9: The World Has Really Changed

My mother likes feijoada, while my father likes bacalhoada. As for third-generation me, as a kid I liked natto.

This is the first time I’ve said that. I’ve finally said what until now I’ve had to just keep to myself.

Why? Because it’s only recently that Brazilians have become familiar with Japanese food culture.

When I was in elementary and middle school in the 1960s, Japanese students were ridiculed and told “Japanese people eat raw fish and uncooked vegetables, right?”

I remember one incident at the first school I worked at. A female cooking teacher told ...

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food en ja es pt

Chapter 8: The Taste of Manju

Round, and filled with that oh-so-sweet red bean paste. That’s the Japanese treat, manju . Brazilians know it as “doce de feijon ”.

Here’s a story I heard from my mom. It was over 80 years ago. She was living in Shiteio at the time.

One day, a customer from out of town visited. It was another Japanese-Brazilian, bearing an unusual gift: manju .

The kids hung up the broom upside down behind the door. It was an old spell for making visitors leave quickly.

And at last, the visitor left – and the kids headed straight for the manju !

Each manju ...

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