Wednesday, March 19, 2014

LIBERDADE: Sunday March 16, 2014

Liberdade was on our "To See" list of things, places and events in Sao Paulo.

Wikipedia for the history:

Liberdade is São Paulo's own equivalent of Japantown in the USA. Significant populations of Chinese and Koreans also live in the district of Liberdade. It is served by the São Paulo Metro.

The entrance to Liberdade is marked by a nine-meter tall red torii (a Japanese arch that marks the entrance to Shinto temples) since 1974. This towering structure, situated on Rua Galvão Bueno, is a distinctive representation of the neighborhood. Liberdade was successfully connected to the São Paulo subway network in the 1970s, opening up this area to commerce like never before. Today, thousands of paulistanos (citizens of São Paulo) flock to the public square in Liberdade every Sunday to purchase craft goods at the weekly fair. In January 2008, in order to celebrate 100 years of Japanese immigration to Brazil, a project to revitalize the quarter was approved by the mayor Gilberto Kassab. 40% of the restoration were for the visit of the prince Naruhito to São Paulo in June 2008.
View of a street in Liberdade district.

The Japanese presence in the neighborhood began in 1912. At this time, Japanese immigrants began to take up residence on the street of Count Sarzedas. This street had a steep slope that gave way to a running stream and swamp area. Basement apartments were numerous and inexpensive, and groups of people or families often lived together in the small rooms. However, the central location of the neighborhood meant immigrants could also be closer to work. As the number of immigrants in the neighborhood grew, so did commercial activity. Soon Japanese-owned inns, emporiums, restaurants, shops, and markets were popping up. These new commercial endeavors also become workplaces, which brought more immigrants to the area, and thus the "street of the Japanese" was formed.

Image by Kay Rodriquez

Liberdade is a meeting spot for many groups, especially among young people who are interested in Japanese culture. Manga (Japanese comics) fans, sometimes participating in cosplay, can be seen in the district almost any day of the week, especially on weekends. The district is also a popular tourist destination. People from all over the world, as well as from Brazil itself, are often seen mixing with the Japanese housewives doing their grocery shopping on Galvão Bueno Street and businessmen looking for low priced Asian food for lunch. Most popular is the street fair that occurs each Saturday and Sunday. Offering tastes of traditional Japanese food and various goods, this famous event attracts so many people from outside of Japan Town that the event is predominantly non-Asian.

Our Visit

Next time we go will be in the Brazilian Fall. Today was in the 90's with high humidity making this a "bear with it" journey.

With the market in full swing, Sue decided to shop the booths. I lasted about 5 minutes and said to Sue: "See that statue over there. You can find me sitting in the shade when you're done." We did find a nice sleeveless "T" for me before we grabbed some japanese noodles and beef and chicken from one of the ubiquitous food carts.

Strolling along the street we found a Japanese garden with more food stalls, but at this time the heat had done a number on us and like Terriyaki on a Stick, we were "done". for the day.

Friday, March 14, 2014

TiraPretoTim Slide Shows

Unliked being tied down to a chair in the living room while the host clicks the next slide with "And here we are washing our underwear", you can view these any time you want.

They all apparantly load at the same time. You can speed up the viewing my hovering over the lower right of an image and a "back, pause, forward" control box will appear.

Carnavale in Tiradentes and Ouro Preto (Lots of pics)

jkeenan7's TiraPreto Carnavale album on Photobucket

Some Street Scenes:

jkeenan7's TiraPreto Street album on Photobucket

Smok'n Mary

jkeenan7's TiraPreto Train album on Photobucket


jkeenan7's TiraPreto Churches album on Photobucket

Some Windows From The Street
jkeenan7's TiraPreto Windows album on Photobucket

And images from the grounds of Inhotim, the modern art museum and botanical grounds near Belo Horizonte.

jkeenan7's TiraPreto Inhotim album on Photobucket

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


"TiraPretoTim": Tiradentes, Ouro Preto, and Inhotim. A week vacation during "Carnavale" week in Brazil.

The Carnavale is celebrated in Brazil every year, 46 days before the Easter festival. Carnival is derived from the word carnelevare, which literally translates to “removal of meat”. The roots of the festival are believed to be in the tradition of Roman Catholics when they abstained from meat and alcohol on certain days as a method to drive away bad things from their life. (Now I know why I couldn't eat meat on Friday as a kid growing up in Philadelphia's Irish Catholic streets.)

The Carnival in Brazil as we know it today is believed to have originated during the European dominated era. Back then, followers of the Roman Catholic Church would indulge in last day of dance, fun, alcohol and sex just before the start of Lent, which is a period of abstinence from alcohol and other sins. Back then, people would exchange clothes and indulge in wild dancing, and it also sometimes coincided with exchange of slaves. (From

Sue's school closes for a week to celebrate "Carnavale" as it is spelled in Brazil. Do we go to Rio for the craziness and festivities? Some of Sue's school teachers suggested a small colonial town, Tiradentes, but the celebration lasts only 4 days. Further research showed another small colonial town worth visiting for another few days: Ouro Preto, a town built during the gold rush. Ouro Preto literally translate to "Gold Black". Wrapping up the holiday would be a one day trip to a modern art museum and botanical garden called "Inhotim".

This blog entry is a recap of the week with further blog entries with a little more detail on the towns, "Smokin' Mary", the many visited Igrejas (Churches), Carnavale itself and the Inhotim visit.

Tiradentes and Ouro Preto are small preserved colonial towns in the state of Minas Gerais. One of our main reasons for visiting these towns are the 300 year old buildings and cobblestone streets

Many of the streets wind wonderfully up and down the hilly town.

One day was spent riding the "Maria Fumaca" or "Smok'n Mary" steam train ride of about 35 minutes to the town of Sao Joao Del Rie.

In each town were simple and majestic churches, some with ornate statues inside, however almost all the churches prohibit inside photography. I'm one of those who follows the rules knowing what the electronic flash damage can be had.

One church did allow for inside photography. More pics when I post the "church" blog entry.

And of course there was "Carnavale" going on while we were there. We missed out on taking photos the first night in Tiradentes as we arrived late from our flight and walked downtown (without camera!!) to find a place for dinner. As we were dining the parade formed right outside our restaurant. One of those "..why didn't I..." moments.

On the next night we knew there would be another parade and one of the groups was selling shirts. I bought one planning to march in the parade but as we were having dinner a monster thunderstorm rolled in soaking everything and knocking out power. As we headed back in the pitch black dark to the hotel after the rain subsided, we heard the sound of chainsaws in the park. Freddy? Nope, a giant tree had fallen during the windstorm and the town maintenance were cleaning it up. Amazingly the next day you would not have known there was any tree fall at all. Nary a leaf.

We were able to enjoy a small parade our last night in Tiradentes and were lucky enough to see a big parade in Ouro Preto on the very last night of Carnavale. The next morning we were amazed to find most of the town clear of the night's revelry and partying. We could hear music and shouting until at least 6:00 a.m.

Without a doubt the best costume we saw.

And last but not least we spent a rainy day at the "Inhotim" modern art museum and botanical gardens. No photography allowed inside the museum exhibits of which there were many. Did get a shot of an outside mural and some standing sculptures.

Separate blog entries to be done on:
Towns of Tiradentes and Ouro Preto
Church Histories

Right now, time for a bike ride in Ibirapuera Park.