segunda-feira, 1 de setembro de 2008

Liberdade, oriental district in São Paulo

São Paulo's Oriental District:
Liberdade (“freedom” in Portuguese) is the oriental district of São Paulo. Nowhere in town can the visitor have a more vivid experience of the Japanese influence in Brazilian culture than in the Liberdade streets, lined with restaurants and shops selling thousands of oriental items.

Even though Liberdade features various oriental businesses, its origins and main cultural references are markedly Japanese, and so it's commonly referred to as the Japanese neighborhood or district.

Most historical information for this profile comes from, a fantastic online resource about Japanese culture in Brazil.

Liberdade's central location is a major plus for visitors and the best way to get there is by the São Paulo Subway . There is a station on Liberdade Square, at the very center of the area's action. Liberdade Station is on the blue line, one stop away from Sé, the main hub of São Paulo's subway system and the city's official center.

Main Attractions:
Besides its many oriental shops, Liberdade is home to:

The Historical Museum of Japanese Immigration in Brazil
The Liberdade Fair

Origins of Liberdade & Difficult Times:
The first Japanese immigrants in Brazil started arriving in 1908 with contracts for working on the coffee plantations of the Southeast, especially in São Paulo State. Gradually, groups of immigrants started establishing themselves in the state capital, São Paulo, then undergoing a massive growth process that owed a lot to the booming coffee business.

By 1912, the area now known as Liberdade was becoming popular among Japanese immigrants looking for an affordable place to live.

Difficult Times:
In the 1940s, Liberdade was a thriving area with many businesses tending to the Japanese community, Japanese schools, baseball games on the weekends and newspapers published in Japanese. In 1941, the Brazilian government suspended the publication of all newspapers in Japanese. When President Getúlio Vargas’s administration broke diplomatic relations with Japan in 1942, all the residents in the main Japanese enclave in the Liberdade area were expelled from their homes and could only return after World War II ended.

Important Changes:
Liberdade underwent major changes in the 1960s and 1970s. Chinese and Korean immigrants moved in; the São Paulo subway system was built and the area gained a station; oriental-style street lamps were put in place; the district got its current name.

Most improvements were initiated by Tsuyoshi Mizumoto, a Japanese businessman who wanted to honor his native land and show gratitude to his adopted country.

Liberdade Square and the neighboring streets host several celebrations. Among the most popular are the Chinese New Year and such as Sendai Tanabata Matsuri, in July, which celebrates a love legend and during which people tie pieces of paper with their wishes to decorative bamboo.