Exploring Japanese Culture in Rio

by Holly Riddle

Apr 13, 2019

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil © Kasto80 | Dreamstime

Trends / History

Did you know the largest Japanese diaspora in the world calls Brazil home? There are more than 1.8 million Japanese people and descendants living in the country, mostly around Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. There are quite a few ways you can spot the Japanese influence on Brazil.


One such way is through the food. Japan brought sushi to Brazil and then gave it a twist, with local ingredients like mango and guava. Additionally, Japanese farming practices influenced Brazil’s agricultural industry, particularly the high quality and variety of produce one can now find throughout the city.


Another way Japan influenced Brazil is through local sporting events. Japanese martial arts evolved into Brazilian Judo, now an international amateur sport. Other Japanese martial arts have smaller followings across the country, including aikido, sumo and kendo.


Throughout both Rio and São Paulo, you’ll spot Japanese art and architecture, as well as traditional Japanese gardens.


Additionally, if you visit during the right time of year, you can attend highly popular Japanese festivals held in both Rio and São Paulo. These include Hanamatsuri, the April festival of flowers, and Tanabata Matsuri, the July festival of stars.


Beyond the more traditional, historically significant festivals, there are plenty of pop culture fests to find. These include more than 175 annual anime-related festivals held throughout Brazil, attracting tens of thousands of people. It’s estimated about 10 million people in Brazil participate in some sort of event related to Japanese pop culture each year, or about 10 percent of the entire population.


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