By Kensuke Arai, Imports and Exports, Marubeni Colorado Corporation.
The journey alone took 12 hours from Tokyo to New York, then a further 9 hours on a transit flight, making a total of 24 hours if you include waiting time. At last I had reached Brazil. But the journey itself was a chance to spend time thinking things over, something that is a rare opportunity for someone who is usually always pressed for time, and in addition, when I realized anew that I had actually come to the other side of the world, in fact it did not really seem all that far!
Brazil has a history of taking in immigrants from countries from all over the world and due to the repeated mixing of these different peoples over time, it has truly become an "ethnic melting pot". So I always find it hard to give an answer to the question "So what are Brazilians like?" While it is true that there is still unfortunately a huge difference between the lifestyles of the rich and poor, Brazilians are anything but racists and they dislike discrimination, so even foreigners like me can soon make new "Amigos" (friends). The best part is the Brazilian way of everybody just enjoying spending time together. Once they start chatting, be they men or women, young or old, there is no stopping them. After carrying on a skilful word play as far as it will go, next someone will start off some impromptu singing. The amazing thing is that the longer you spend with these slightly proud but really just talkative Brazilians, these on the surface brash but deep down very kind Brazilians, the more lovable they appear.
What these Brazilians love above all else is "Futebol" (soccer). Since it is possible to watch it at a stadium for only 500 yen, they are all the more conscientious devotees. A woman behind me shouts out abuse at the opposing team, in completely unrepeatable slang. If the local team wins, the entire town erupts with people dancing madly for joy and the sound of joyful people shouting "Woah!" and the sounds of fireworks and fire crackers can be heard echoing between the long apartment blocks. But if the other team gets a goal against them, immediately there is 30 or 40 seconds of shocked silence. The faces of fully grown adults who suddenly look like they could burst into tears any moment now when this happens is another lovable characteristic.
It is not long now until the start of the World Cup! On the days when there is a Brazil match, every company and bank shuts up shop and closes early. Everyone dresses in the bright canary colored uniform, works themselves into a frenzy of excitement and, not least, prays. Whenever the conversation turns to Zico's Japan, people become strangely modest, saying "Japan definitely has improved a lot. They could beat us….". When I think that for a whole month I will get to see a new face of Brazil, I too am getting excited already!
Marubeni Group magazine "M-SPIRIT" VOL.33 (May, 2006)