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Liberdade, São Paulo’s Japanese Neighborhood Posted by on Feb 12, 2012 in Culture, History

I was lucky enough to spend last weekend in São Paulo, where I did some sightseeing with fellow Portuguese blogger Polyana. She took me to Liberdade, São Paulo’s Japanese neighborhood.

Photo by Tony Galvez

Historically, the neighborhood was an area where slaves punished for crimes were hung, and the area received its name from the only path to “freedom” for the condemned. In 1912, when the Japanese immigration wave in Brazil began, Japanese immigrants began to settle in the area, where apartments were cheap. Japanese businesses began to spring up, including a tofu factory and job agencies, as well as a hotel. Two years later, the first Japanese school was established. By 1932, around 2,000 Japanese immigrants lived in the city. In 1946, the first Japanese newspaper in Brazil was created, as well as the first Japanese bookstore, which still exists today. Brazil now has the largest population of Japanese outside of Japan.

Photo by Rachel G.

There are still lots of Japanese businesses in Liberdade today, where you can buy Japanese products and crafts. There are also plenty of Japanese restaurants, and some Japanese karaoke bars. The area is also used for Japanese cultural events, including Buddhist festivals and a sumo wrestling championship, as well as a weekly craft market. Here’s a video of one of the annual Japanese cultural events in Liberdade:

One of the best things you can do in Liberdade as a tourist is eat! Poly and I went to one of Liberdade’s Japanese restaurants and had a huge, delicious lunch:

Photo by Rachel G.

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  1. Jackie:

    I’ve been there once! Didn’t get to try the food. Will have to put that on my list of things to do. Very interesting place, Liberdade.