Akira Motooka / Marubeni Brazil Corporation.
When you hear the word “Brazil”, the first thing that springs to many Japanese people’s minds is soccer, or samba, or the Amazon. Therefore, what I would like to describe here, mostly, are some of the many other aspects that define the country that is, Brazil.
It is certainly true that people are fanatical about soccer here. In order that the supporters of both teams do not clash after they have been to see a game, large numbers of armed police line the streets to form a human wall and the atmosphere is very tense under their strict watch. On the other hand, marathon events are also very popular. At the end of the year there is a marathon competition that is held in the city of Sao Paulo, and since it is the middle of the summer, the heat is very hard on both the runners and the people who have come to watch.
In terms of music, a sort of popular music known as MPB is even more popular than either samba or bossa nova and is listened to by people of a wide range of ages. However, it ranges from the sort of music that in Japan would be referred to as today’s J-pop, to music similar to Japan’s “Kayokyoku” (popular music from the end of World War II to the end of the 1980s) and even includes something similar to Japan’s “Enka”, or folk music, at its outermost extremes, so you have to be very careful when buying CDs. At the moment, the female vocalist Ivete Sangalo is very popular, and she captivates with her soulful songs.
In addition, Japanese people tend to think of Brazil as a very hot country but, in fact, since it is a country which has a length from north to south of some 4400km, the temperature varies from region to region, from those located directly on the Equator to those which have a similar climate to that you can find in Japan. The major city of Sao Paulo is located at an altitude of almost 800m and therefore the climate there is not very humid, making it quite easy to live in. Even so, since Brazilians love the beach, they make for the hot Atlantic coast in droves by car on holidays.
I am quite satisfied with the food here too. Brazilian food includes many famous dishes such as Churrasco (Brazilian barbeque) and Feijoada (a kind of stew made with black beans and various types of meat), but in addition to these, I would recommend a seafood dish known as “Mukeka” which is a kind of ethnic style dish in the form of a soup that contains shrimp and certain fish and other things, all stewed together. It tastes a bit like Thai style Tom Yum soup, except with less of a powerful spiciness and a much deeper flavor. It is delicious when eaten poured over steaming hot white rice. In addition to this, you can enjoy cuisine from Italy and Portugal and all over the world. And particularly in Sao Paulo, you can find many Japanese style eating houses and pubs that serve food that tastes just like it does at home, so it is hard to ever get sick of Brazilian food. About the only thing that gives me any concern is that the price of Mac Donald’s is higher than it is in Japan!
Another surprising aspect of Brazil: Brazil is a major industrial nation with high levels of technology and home to the world’s third biggest aircraft manufacturer, Embraer. We are all taught that the first people ever to make a human flight in an aircraft were America’s Wright brothers. However, ask any Brazilian and they will proudly tell you it was the Brazilian, Alberto Santos-Dumont. In fact, the news that the Wright brothers had made the flight in America in 1903 was not believed in Europe at the time, since Europe then was the center of the world’s technology, and at first it was said that Santos-Dumont’s flight, which occurred in 1906, had been the first ever human flight. With this sort of history behind it, Brazil has, as a nation, been putting all its efforts into developing its aeronautic technology and Embraer has succeeded in making its small aircraft business and its medium- sized aircraft business into number one in the world in their respective fields. This year, Embraer-made passenger jet aircraft will be introduced into Japan, as aircraft to be used by JAL. The year 2008 also marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of Japanese immigration into Brazil, so in a sense this is helping the dream of continued Japan-Brazil Friendship to “take off”! By the way, Marubeni is acting as the distributing agent in Japan.
Marubeni Group magazine "M-SPIRIT" VOL.46 (July, 2008)