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.

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