São Paulo claims to have the largest “Japantown” in the world; it’s called Liberdade. Herewith three photos of items on sale there.

On sale in Liberdade, São Paulo

It’s a big city; claims to be the largest, with fifteen million souls or more, in both the Western and Southern hemispheres. It’s not scenic or glamorous or touristic or fashionable, mostly; it’s about people focusing on working their way into the First World.

Liberdade · It’s jam-packed and cheery and culturally variegated to a ridiculous extreme; worth walking around. This visitor from the other hemisphere and perimeter of the New World felt at home; I’m used to a crowd where the faces represent every possible permutation of the gene pool. On the other hand I’m also used to a cheery cacaphony of languages; but São Paulo is almost as unilingually Portuguese as Tokyo is Japanese.

On sale in Liberdade, São Paulo

Anyone who’s studied a South-European language will be able to make out quite a bit of Portuguese text, but the vowels and consonants might as well come from Timbuktu or Kuala Lumpur.

On sale in Liberdade, São Paulo

Our Brazilian host Bruno, a Google colleague with whom I’ve spent considerable time, showed me some sort of official document and I saw that his middle name was Takahashi. A fresh glance at his face and I realized I’d been blinded by name and accent; he wouldn’t draw a second glance on a Tokyo subway car. We see through our minds not our eyes.


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From: LP (Jul 22 2011, at 00:17)

Just for the sake of truth: Sao Paulo can't possibly have the largest urban population. I bet Tokyo beats Sao Paulo - and as you were in Tokyo, I hope you can shed some more light on this. In fact, some sources say that there other cities as well with more inhabitants: http://www.mongabay.com/cities_pop_01.htm.


From: Takashi (Jul 22 2011, at 13:00)

Thank you for interesting photos. I've never been to Latin America but I hear that Japanese who have lived there kept "something good for Japanese culture" comparing to "decadent" country - Japan.


From: Douglas Drumond (Jul 22 2011, at 19:56)

São Paulo once had the second largest population (first was Tokyo). Now, a lot of cities in China are larger than São Paulo.


From: BDP (Aug 06 2011, at 22:01)

Regarding the ranking of São Paulo among large cities, the "in the southern and western hemispheres" qualifiers are important. Many of the other large cities in the world are in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, Jakarta may be larger, although the relative ranking likely depends on how "city" has been defined.


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