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Before it all happens, Japanese New Year's in Brazil

Before it all happens, Japanese New Year's Celebration in Brazil

When Christmas days are over, it´s time to get ready for New Year´s Eve.

Most of young Japanese descendents living here in São Paulo (Brazil) are sadly forgetting those traditions that their grand or greatgrandparents had for this time of year. On the other hand, we feel that each year, Japanese culture is being spread around the city by stores, restaurants, buildings, companies´ presence.

So, what do Japanese Brazilian wish for New Year? Same things that everybody in the world do, and that is peace, prosperity, money, love, health…

But almost all families prepare at least one Japanese dish for supper before New Year, it can be sushi, nishime, onigiri, sashimi, udon and so on. But they are also served with other Brazilian food and champagne to celebrate New Year. That´s why Liberdade (our “Little Tokyo”) receives lots of visitors every single day, especially in this time of year. And grocery stores get so crowded, you feel you can´t even move. People are buying all ingredients for their traditional Japanese recipes.

Crowded Japanese grocery store in São Paulo

One thing they also buy is the famous mochi! On January 1st, they believe that eating it fried (with shoyu and sugar) or cooked (as part of the ozoni soup) as the first meal of the day, they will have luck and health for the whole year.


Lots of Japanese restaurants serve the ozoni soup in the beginning of the year for their traditional customers, just like Sushi-Yassu (http://www.sushiyassu.com.br), as sushiman Sérgio Nakamura explains.

On January 1st, still at Liberdade, they prepare a square area with some “usu” and “tsuchi” for the mochitsuki. A huge line of people (mostly Brazilians interested in the culture) is formed around this square for them to take home some mochi pieces for free.

Being Japanese descendent or not, the most expected moment is watching fireworks with our families or friends, hugging and wishing each other a wonderful New Year ahead.

Sushi-Yassu restaurant

Marina Tamiko Mizioka
Marina T. Mizioka is half sansei, half yonsei, born, raised and living in São Paulo, Brazil since 1979. Read more »