Rugby and Brazilians in Japan, but not at the same time

     I am in a community next to Sugadaira, about 200km north of Tokyo in the Japanese Alps, not far from where the 1998 Olympics were held in Nagano. Tokyoites like to come up here as the air is cooler and cleaner than the hothouse hell that is Tokyo in summer.
     The sister city to Sugadaira is Davos, Switzerland. I have never been to Davos, but I can’t imagine their enthusiasm for the relationship comes close to matching Sugadaira’s with the flag-waving, billboards and signs. Sugadaira is the rugby capital of Japan as well as a contender to be the lettuce capital. In summer there are tons of rugby, soccer and running camps, while in winter it’s all skiing and snowboarding and feel-good comparisons to Davos.
     My university in Santa Barbara held the world’s largest amateur rugby tournament, and it was cause to hide the women and children, board the house up and prepare for the apocalypse. But this is Japan and no one is going to make trouble. There is even a national rugby league here and one of the team names is Brave Lupus, so there you go. (Does that not make any sense and yet it is kind of funny and interesting? That’s Japan.)
     Down the hill is the city of Ueda, a town with some light industry that employs a lot of Brazilian guest workers. Brazil has the largest Japanese community outside of Japan, and many of the diaspora come back here to work. I was in Brazil two years ago, and I became very interested in the Japanese community because I can’t think of two more different countries that have been mixed together. Both are in my Top 5 of favorite countries to visit, but I never met one Brazilian who had a positive experience in Japan. It was always a variation of the same complaint: the Japanese treated them like second class people. I thought Brazilians were amazing people so it surprised me to hear their stories and helped color my views on Japan.

               Horse is good eatin’! I would re-order this as (Tofu) Horse Pork Chicken Beef.

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Rugby and Brazilians in Japan, but not at the same time — 2 Comments

  1. All right, Brazil has the largest Japanese community outside of Japan. But you must also know where you find the largest Brasilian community outside of Brazil. My guess is the Spanish and Italian soccer leagues.

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