Born and raised in a japanese offspring family. What does it look like?

(In the picture, me traning the kanji ‘ai’  (means love) and some japanese objects such as a kokeshi, a Buddha Hello Kitty, a Daruma, a Minnie from Tokyo and a japanese-portuguese dictionary)

Japan is present in everything in my life since always.

Starting with my name. I have three japanese names: my first and middle name and one of my last name, the last last one is portuguese (or italian, I’m not sure). My japanese side comes from my mother’s family and it’s the nearest offspring I have and I’ve always been extremely proud of having japanese blood and the possibillity to live a bit of this wonderful culture.

Let me tell you a bit of our story: when first japanese came to Brazil in 1908 and then to the other decades, they knew nothing about portuguese language and this new and different culture we had here, so they united into their community. Japanese community was pretty closed by some years ago and some famillies didn’t even let their sons and daughters to marry brazilians, or people from any other culture! We can them Gaijin – which means Foreigner, and I know some friends which their famillies still practice this “closeness” until nowadays.

That was part of my grandmother’s story. Children raised in japanese families call them Obatian, but my grandmother’s never taught us that way, so we used to call her just Granny. My grandpa is descendentes of french and dutch, born and raised in Brazil, and he fell in love with my grandma (japanese, also born and raised in Brazil), they got married, but my grandgrandmother always prohibited that and she didn’t supported my grandma for many and many years in her marriage because of my grandpa descendence. He was not japanese.

  •  I live in a japanese neighborhood, most people who live here come or is descendent of Okinawa, the Hawaii of Japan, an Island in the South of Japan. I am not from Okinawa, but from Akita and Kobe. However, I love to live here. We have a kaikan a few blocks away from home and every year, at the second semester, we have Okinawa Festival, a huge two days party to celebrate Okinawa culture. There are typical food, shows, music, dance, martial arts (I even presented for four years in a row, when I was in Karate class – miss it).

But how is to grow up surrounded by this culture? First of all, some of the words we (me, my brother, cousins and part of the japanese community living abroad) learn as a child are in japanese. We eat Gohan (rice) and learn the difference between it and the brazilian one (gohan is always better) or lamen, tempuras, guiosa, udon, etc, we sleep in our soft makuras (pillows – actually, I have a story about that too, but will tell later) and some of us have futons (enormous, warm and cozy blankets). To turn on the TV, we need to find the  rimokon (remote control) – of course – to watch Doraemon, Anpaman, Pokémon and all that japanese programs that were part of our childhood.

And we never (never) wear shoes at home, it’s a dirty and unhealthy practice to us, so we always use only socks, suripas, flipflops or nothing at all, the rule is to never let this dirty coming from street to infiltrate our houses.

To grow up as part of a japanese family is to hear stories about your relatives, grandparents or parents about Japan, the snow, the sakuras, the trips to Mont Fuji or to the ski center, about their baitos (jobs) in factories as dekasseguis, the amazing  100¥ stores and the Tokyo Disneyland. Is to hear japanese music since you are a baby and to know how to sing them even when you have no clue what any of these words mean (all time). Is to dream to visit this country and having the most wonderful feelings when you finally discover the land where your ancestors came from – guess what? Is better than your dreams! (Yes! I visited Japan once and it was one of the most wonderful places I’ve ever been! Will tell more about in another post) It’s the most wonderful place and it worth every single day you spent thinking about it.

I will tell some of these stories over time, in new posts. Meanwhile, thank you for reading a bit of my life! (I’ll also upload some photos to this post later)

Hope you have a great day!

Love from me to you,

Arissa Ayumi



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