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