It has been over a century since the Japanese immigrated to Brazil, sharing several things of their culture that influenced even our Portuguese language. Over time, Japan strives to share its culture through events, festivals, communities and various programs involving culture.
Despite all this, most Brazilians are still unaware of the culture, have no interest or are simply limited to stereotypes and generalizations. On the other hand, some people from the Japanese community and descendants are also limited to expanding their culture among themselves.
Even young Brazilians who claim to be influenced by Japanese culture, who hold large events based on anime, end up deviating from the theme with several Western and strange attractions, just with the aim of generating visitors and profit.
This happened in my city, with an event that bears the name "Japanese Culture" but was full of medieval RPGs, Harry Potter, Star Wars, LOL and western games. The most you could find was anime and origami workshop, not even Japanese you can find at the event. The organizer even commented that these things of Japanese culture are not profitable.
What to expect from events that are actually organized by the Japanese community? I've been to several and I didn't even have a soba, ramen or udon. Again the event was full of things that had nothing to do with Japanese culture and seemed more like a place to generate money.
The experience of a Seinenkai
The idea of writing this article came from my friend Lucas who was a member of a Kaikan community, but felt cool and sent me a gigantic text explaining his experience.
I am even afraid to share these texts, because people tend to take everything written literally. Remember that there are exceptions and everything is relative! We strongly consider the effort of the people involved!
Do not read this article in a general way, the kaikan does many interesting things, but we will talk about it in another article. We separate articles that speak good from articles that speak bad things… And remember, not all kaikan are the same!
As of now, everything you read below in this article was written by my friend Lucas, I hope you do not take this text as an offensive criticism, but as a suggestion to improve the Japanese community in Brazil.
My experience attending a Japanese culture association in Brazil, and Japanese culture events that have stopped in time.
Since the time of the Japanese immigration in Brazil, several support and dissemination entities of the oriental culture in our country have been created, each one with its peculiarities and distinct purposes, the kaikans being the most known among all.
I was always very influenced and interested in the culture of Japan since I was a child, and I always did what I was able to participate in cultural events, and learn more about culture as a whole, until I decided to participate more actively by joining a Japanese cultural association.
Before I started attending, I had an initial concept that these entities promoted culture with different activities and small and large events, with the support of young people interested in participating in development, so that the association continues its path in the future. .
However, when I started to participate more actively and understand how the entity works, I realized that the reality was very different from the concept I had before, because I realized that the role of young people who are there, although in theory they think they are contributing with the development of the entity, they were only fulfilling tasks predetermined by the elders who coordinate the association.
And many of these tasks were reduced to organizing the hall, cooking, among other things that were not directly related to the proposal to promote Japanese culture, so that, with the exception of the origami that were produced for the events, a large part of the activities they resembled a “quermesse” than an association of Japanese culture.
Most of the young people who attend are members of the “Seinenkai” which would be the group of young people of the association, with the role of assisting the kaikan in promoting Japanese culture, among other values according to a statute that is made by the group's president.
How does Kaikan work?
The kaikan has a board that together with the treasury decides what can or cannot be done at the entity, together with representatives from departments such as karaoke, origami, and the Seinenkai, but the latter does not have the ability to make major decisions that change something the structure of the association, limiting itself to assisting in activities that have already been pre-determined by the board.
All kaikan departments must be paid a monthly fee that is not very cheap to be part of, and generally older people pay a kaikan monthly fee called “family member”, but everyone is encouraged to pay the monthly fee in order to help maintain the entity, which is nothing wrong because everything has a cost, the question is what the kaikan is doing with the money raised.
As mentioned before, with the exception of events held, with only one large event held once a year, all the money collected is used only to pay expenses of the entity and the rest is invested in the bank, with thousands of things being done but they are not.
The Problem of Japan's Cultural Events
Events that simply stopped in time, but this issue affects practically all entities with rare exceptions for the following reasons:
- The presentations are always similar;
- Ambient music closes in a unique style known as enka, which appeals to only a small portion, usually of the event organizers;
- The foods are very expensive and the varieties are few (except in SP, which has a large concentration of Japanese people);
- Music shows are always all in the same style, usually enka and folk songs pleasing a minority;
- Some even today do not accept cards as a form of payment, forcing people to carry money in these dangerous times that we are living in;
Some traditional festivals are even putting K-pop to play, but no J-pop. Fortunately the organizers of traditional events are not making their festivals the same as anime events.
And the result of all this is that the audience that ends up being brought are people who go to eat and leave without even knowing what is going on there, since it was to be attracting the audience that is interested in the culture of Japan and not only the traditional one as the organizers think, but this public is not going to attend these events because of the direction they took.
A large event must have at least one international attraction, varied Japanese music to please everyone and not just enka and folk music, as well as food, spaces with varied activities and presentations about Japan, and it's not what we find in no Japanese culture events in Brazil today.
The Kaikan administration
Returning to the kaikan, even if the events fail, they still earn a very good income, and even so the money could be used to promote cultural exchanges for Japan, perhaps even with the help of the consulate, travel draws for Japan at the end of the year, workshops to attract more people to the organization, in short, several things, but nobody is worried about going after it because they prefer to keep it the way it is.
And since Seinenkai does not have the autonomy to change anything in the structure of the association, they limit themselves to choosing the seasoning of the food to be used, and to fulfill the tasks that are passed on by the elders.
Many kaikans have imprecise control of expenses by writing down notebooks and fragmenting the information, including many internal communication failures as many things are decided among a small group of people, and later the others are informed without consensus among all.
With all this, many young people who are there end up not doing great reflections on their role within the entity, and just do the tasks that are passed on, the few who try to change something are stopped by the older people who are conservative and do not let “ move in a team that is winning ”this in their view of course, because whoever loses with all this is the association itself that may cease to exist in the future due to this positioning.
And it was for these reasons and other things that people stopped being part of what I hoped to be able to do so many things and not just be one more in the crowd, I went back to my studies of Japanese culture on my own, and I will only attend festivals that I find interesting.
Japanese culture needs to improve!
Now we return the words of Kevin Henrique. I really do realize that these Japanese communities tend to close and limit themselves to traditional things. Even in Japan people are unfamiliar with change and live in their comfort zone.
I am not from the São Paulo region where there are thousands of Japanese communities and social groups like my friend Lucas. I live near Goiânia where there is only one kaikan, until today I haven't seen anything but events with yakisoba and bon-odori. Although Goiânia has an anime festival every month, only 1 is of Japanese culture. What happened in my city had no typical cuisine besides dumplings, yakisoba and sushi.
I don't think the problem is entirely with the Japanese community or with organizations like the Kaikan. Many things are involved in the organization of these events, it is normal for them to focus only on what people are used to or that generate profits.
I personally realize that people are afraid to innovate in Brazil. I find thousands of sushi restaurants in the region of Goiás, but it is super rare for me to see a restaurant trying to sell other traditional Japanese dishes. This makes Brazilians think that Japanese cuisine is limited only to sushi. Feel blessed to live in the Region of SP where there is a lot of traditional cuisine.
I hope that those who read this article, think about trying harder to make Japanese culture recognized by Brazilians. We are doing our part through the internet! The number of fans of Japanese culture is gigantic, try to reach the maximum number of people through its thousands of social programs. Thanks for reading, we appreciate the shares and comments.