Yamashita's portrait For Ryuta Imafuku's Cafe Creole
Circle K Karen Tei Yamashita

2. Circle Trash/Maru-Gomi
3. Touch My Heart Circle K
4. Circle K Recipes
5. Circle K Rules@@ Read in Portugese/Ler em Portugues
6. Just Do It in 24 Hours
7. The Santa Cruz of Tofu
8. A Gaveta da Celia
9. Y2CircleK
10.Traveling Voices new!

to read it in Japanese

Karen Tei Yamashita, a Californian-born sansei novelist who magically depicted her 10-year epistemological journey in Brazil both fantastically (in Through the Arc of the Rain Forest ) and historically (in Brazil-Maru ), now tells her own story inspired by her continuous search for the Japanese-Brazilian never-ending process of "travessia." Her diasporean and transcultural vision of the world lead her to complete a new saga, Tropics of Orange, which was published by Coffee House Press in 1997. She is now preparing for a book Circle K Cycles based on these web journals.

Yamashita's portrait Backache
Photo:Ronaldo Lopez de Oliveira

I have a backache. This is an old complaint, a secretarial one caused by years of pincering phone receivers between ear and shoulder along with excessive sitting and typing, further exacerbated by childhood scoliosis and no exercise. Sitting for long periods without back support on the floor may now also contribute to this discomfort. Finding some relief in the horizontal on a tatami floor under blankets or kotatsu, I doze off. The world becomes a great sleeping spine, and I have been dreaming. In this, my spine stretches out as a long bridge, transversing a great space.

There is the memory of the flight from LAX to Narita. Varig flight RG836. We join the spine of a great Boeing 747, its articulating vertebrae already constructed by several hundred dekasegi, business persons and tourists whose travel has originated in So Paulo, Brazil. In Los Angeles, we are the last to fill in the remaining seats down the long backbone of this great flying whale.

Seats in airplanes are always too high for me; my legs dangle, and my knees ache. The backrest is also too tall; it presses my head forward awkwardly. I do not participate in the medium American height. Is it an international standard? How many on the plane are participants? Surely, our bones will pay for this.

Our travel through space and altitudes is a continuum of digital dots on a flight monitor, precisely mapped, pushing through the same air, flight after flight. The compression of the cabin seals our hearing, and we slip through dreams and waking, glancing occasionally at the continuing American movie flickering endlessly in the dark. By the time we reach Narita, we will see four American movies; this means that the passengers from So Paulo may have already seen four others. 24 hours of travel and eight representations of Hollywood. We eye our watches for the time left behind, trying to match, yet hoping to forget, our physical clocks. Nevertheless, we arrive the next day.

The Shinkansen is an even longer spinal thing, an articulating steel serpent , dividing an old Japan from a new. Now we join the Japanese traveling population, each person with extended travel plans, starting from the farthest northern corners of snowy Hokkaido, tunneling through on private trains and subways, taxis, buses and ferries off Sado Island, toward palm trees in Kyushu. This is not a single spine but a great multiple dragon. Still the Shinkansen is the fastest thing going.

We are instructed to sit on the right side of this spine in order to see Fujisan. I believe I fit in these seats; my legs do not dangle. Relaxing into the comfort of another standard, some of us sleep and never see the sleeping volcano. At 200 kilometers per hour, if Fujisan is in view for a full ten minutes, we traverse 33 kilometers of its foothills. Travel on the Shinkansen is more precise than air travel; to the very second, it makes a cushioned stop like a soft sneeze. 11:22:00. Nagoya.

Settled in Seto, outside Nagoya, we have rented a car, a silver 4-door Subaru coupe, vintage 1987. We apply a green and yellow arrow-like sticker to the backside of the car to indicate we are new drivers. We notice that another Brazilian family has the same sticker on their car, but they've kept it there for three years now. Green and yellow: the colors of the Brazilian flag. Honk if you are Brazilian. Cuidado! Brazilians in car. Cuidado, these guys get confused; they're not used to this new spine where the directions have changed lanes from right to left, where oncoming is ongoing and vice versa. In any case, we are turning Japanese, hugging our corners to the left.

Our friend Ryuta shows us the way from his house to our house. There is a Circle K convenience store on every corner. Four Circle Ks. To go to Ryuta's house, make a left turn at every Circle K. To go home, make a right turn at every Circle K. We are circling Ks. This is a joke about my name, Karen. Konbinis. Open 24 hours. The lighted way between my home and your home in my car .

E-mail. Internet. Connect. Sorry, your modem is busy or is not connected. Please check settings for proper connection. Click help. The Internet Wizard will connect you. Sorry. Please call MSN Member Services Technical Help. 044-965-0196. Type in AT&F in Advanced Settings. Type in S56=144spaceS27=48. The access number you have dialed is invalid. Please wait. Searching for baud rate for current access number. 9600. Welcome to CompuServe Member Services. $9.95 per month for 5 hours. Free trial period first month. However, surcharges from your site in Japan will be 35 yen per minute. (That is $20 an hour!) Are you sure you wish to disconnect? Try the Japanese software version. Can you read the katakana? LZ@(kya n-seru). wv(heru-pu). From my modem to your modem. From my computer t o your computer. Hardware vertebrae. Cable nerves. KDD. AT&T. My back hurts. We are not connected.

Occasionally we telephone out of desperation. On the other side, they answer: Do you know what time it is? We are 17 hours behind you! We need our sleep. Is this any time to call? We are talking at the same time, but my time is not your time.

I can see the kanji, hiragana and katakana gathering. They run down the page delicately, right to left. Now they also seem to run across the page leftto right. ROMAJI jumps out at you. You piece your recognition together like reading abstract art. That looks like a cow. That looks like a violin. Hey, this is the gas bill! And this flyer: sU(Pi-za). They deliver. Japan. Ou, this is a flyer for sexy videos! That is, you can tell by the nude photos, but read it: rfI (bi-de-o). You don't get the girl in the flyer; you get the video of her. Kinky sexist Japan. Traveling my spin e, from my tongue to my pubis, a sentient road, a sentient border. I need a massage.

My back aches. It is longer than it should be, expanded geographically. It is shorter than it should be, compressed and digitized. It is a great abstraction, a pidgin vertebrae of utterances in which I connect to the message maybe 25% of the time. It is multiple and reversible, disconnected yet utterly connected, timeless and long suffering and infinitely sensitive. It is border and frontier. It is both vehicle and passenger. Conveyance and traveler. It is a bridge and a beast of burden. It is my back.

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pieces of ceramics 1 Circle Trash / Maru-Gomi

photo: Jane Tei Oliveira

Saturday, February 22
........We are introduced to the house we will rent in Seto. It is a two-story house built around the sixties and one of the three similar houses standing side-by-side. 2-20-3 Kohancho. Our friend Akiko initiates introductions to our surrounding neighbors. She has a gift for each neighbor and a very important question: Which days, at what time, where, and how must we dispose of our trash? I listen to the answers conscientiously; I want to be a good neighbor.

Monday, February 24
........We rent a truck and go with friends, Akiko and Ryuta, to Gifu City. Akiko's parents are cleaning out a house in preparation for a new construction. They are about to get rid of a washing machine, a refrigerator, a microwave, a television, tables and chairs and futons, a precious trove of furniture and electro-domestic goods for our empty rental house in Seto.

Wednesday, February 26, evening
........Our neighbor, Mrs. Takahashi, comes over with a slick poster explaining in detail when and how to deal with our trash. The poster has pictures of four trash groups: trash to be burned, including plastic, paper and kitchen garbage; recycled trash such as bottles, cans and newspaper; another section for what seems to be ceramics and light bulbs; and finally a section for big trash including bicycles and washing machines. She also offers us a package of yellow sacks for appropriate disposal. I understand that the clear yellow sacks are for "burnable" trash. Moerugomi. I must get my moerugomi out on Mondays and Thursdays at 8:30 am.

Thursday, February 27, morning
........Our alarm alerts us at 8:25 am, but I have been awake already for at least an hour fumbling in the cold with the clock trying to decipher the time in the dark, worried that the trash truck with come and go without my moerugomi. We've left the trash at the door in readiness. The house is miserably cold at this hour; slipping out from under futons is the last thing we want to do. I get dressed, struggle with my shoes at the door and run out with our trash. I feel a sudden panic when I see no bags of trash at the street corner previously indicated by Mrs. Takahashi, then relief as two yellow bags of hefty moerugomi appear about five meters to the left. Mission accomplished. I walk back thinking I will also see my neighbors in a similar and concerted rush to augment our small pile, but no one appears to notice my common sacrifice for community.

Friday, March 7
........We receive a box of traditional sweets. The box is presented to us in a colorful paper bag with handles. It is wrapped in stylized rice paper, revealing the box itself---a sturdy cardboard construction pasted with more fine paper. Parting another layer of tissue, within, the box is segmented, each plastic partition bearing an individually wrapped confection. We slowly unwrap each confection which is in turn wrapped in a final edible wrapper. We pour tea. We chew slowly. Every bite must count. Meanwhile we fold and flatten the seven or more inedible layers of wrapping, gathering in a growing pile along with the historic and company brochures and packages of also inedible desiccant. It is an odd lesson in economics. Packaging represents full employment. Our pile of waste represents layers upon layers of jobs. We can mince thoughts over the humidity of the climate or the cultural aspects of wrappings and tea ceremony, but the welfare of the nation requires this.

Sunday, March 16
........We meet a Brazilian family in their apartment near Tsurumai Park. They explain that Brazilians practically don't buy anything upon arriving in Japan. Furnishings and warm clothing are usually handed down from other sojourners, but the greatest source of all is the trash. Lixo. That new three-part refrigerator, this bilingual VCR and television, that small oven, the kotatsu, the full-cycle washing machine, the telephone/fax machine: all in working condition: all lixo. There are also stories of incredible finds: an upright organ encased in polished cherry wood, entire computer systems, big screen stereo televisions. Every neighborhood has a certain place and a certain night. You take your flashlight and bump into other gaijin scavenging.

........The Japanese, the Brazilians say, would never do this. The Japanese don't want other people's old things. They are superstitious; used things bring bad luck. A new home needs new stuff. If you leave an apartment, you have to remove everything from it. Japanese don't want to rent a place with used appliances. It's often cheaper to dump your old stuff than to cart it to the next home. Space is at a premium; no American garage to tuck away the old TV. No room to store the winter futons or clothing; easier to trash them and buy another set next year.

Tuesday, April 1
........We help a friend exchange apartments with another family in the same building. Our friend will move upstairs. The other family will move downstairs to the ground floor. The exchange is made so that a child in a wheelchair won't have to be carried up and down the stairs. The apartments are about equal in size: two 4 1/2 tatami bedrooms, kitchen and bath. The stuff that's compressed into these spaces boggles the mind. The more we remove, the more there seems to be: appliances large and small, dishes and groceries, pots and pans, bedding and clothing, cleaning solutions and clothes pins, toys and magazines. I bag an endless collection of recycled trash, plastic bags and paper sacks, bottles and old plastic margarine tubs, accumulated knickknacks for some special project or use that never came about. My friend coordinates a growing pile of things she will abandon to the trash. Her elderly mother picks among these things and quietly retrieves this and that when her daugh! ter is not looking.

pieces of ceramics 2

......The beauty of trash.
photo: Jane Tei Oliveira

Sunday, April 6
........I meet with a man who is the president (kucho) of the residents of a complex of condominiums housing some 7,000 people, 2,000 of whom are Brazilian. He sights trash as one of the problems the condominiums face. Will the Brazilians cooperate with the new trash system? A questionnaire has been sent out to all the Brazilian occupants. An entire section is devoted to "problems relacionados com o lixo." "Have you seen the notices in Portuguese regarding the correct disposal of trash?" "Do you use the appropriate sack to throw away trash?" "Do you throw away burnable trash and non-burnable trash on the appropriate days?" "Do you know where to throw your trash?" "Are you aware of how trash should be separated?" "What do you think is required to facilitate the collection of trash?" "Will you collaborate with the new rules for trash disposal in April?"

Tuesday, April 15
........We offer to drive Brazilian friends to Osaka to pick up a car left behind by another friend returning to Brazil. Their own car has already been sent to the crusher. As Brazilians, we mourn this car which by other standards was still a new and useful car. However, Japan requires an expensive inspection (shaken) that will cost at least $1,500, not to mention repairs to any systems that don't meet the standard. Another car can be bought for the cost of the shaken. We note the sticker dates indicating the shaken for the car picked up in Osaka; its years are numbered as well.

........A Brazilian import/exporter has told me that he tried to send old car parts to Brazil to be reassembled into cars there. It's an idea that quickly comes to mind; can't these old cars be useful elsewhere? The Brazilian government, to protect its own automotive industry, won't allow it. India however permits this as does the Philippines. Cars are sawed in half, sent in containers, and welded together upon arrival.

Saturday, April 19
........Brazilian friends scout some prime areas known for valuable trash. These sites are usually near large condominium structures with hundreds of apartments and thousands of residents. We see a few boom boxes but nothing special. The good stuff has been picked over already.

........We look up into ten-story structures, futons hanging over the balconies, T-shirts and underwear hung out to dry. Lots of Brazilians live here, but for a Saturday late afternoon, it's oddly quiet by Brazilian standards. People working zangyo. Overtime. People sleeping off the late shift. Their lives in Brazil may have been very different; they may have never worked a factory job before. Now they circle the three Ks. Kitanai. Kitsui. Kiken. A bank clerk presses metal into car bumpers. An engineer hangs pigs on hooks in a meat processing plant. A stationery store owner drives a trash truck. A fifteen-year-old boy mixes cement at a construction site. A grandmother solders tiny wires to electronic plates. They are the same people in Japan as they were in Brazil, but there are new and different uses for their lives. There are new and different uses for their lives, but if the bank clerk loses his fingers or the grandmother suffers a heart attack, there is another cle! rk with fingers, another grandmother with a heart.

........We don't want any old boom boxes. We're looking for a VCR. We settle for a pair of old chairs.

Saturday, April 26
........I sweep out my daughter's room on the second floor. It's the guest room with 6 tatamis and a tokonoma. My daughter is collecting broken pieces of ceramics found in the dirt and streets all around Seto, an old and traditional center for ceramics and Chinaware. Seto-mono. The pieces are arranged across the mats and tokonoma like puzzle pieces and artifacts from an archaeological dig. Designs drawn in traditional blue, repetitive abstractions, fragments of kanji, wabi/sabi---all rest in the dappled light across the straw and wood---a beauty my daughter grasps at as if she can see the entire teacup, the dish or vase in its original luster and usefulness. The beauty of trash.

........In any case, I scoop it all up, throw it into a plastic sack and continue to sweep.

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Touch My Heart Circle K


The following collage was constructed from:
Japanese English garnered from T-shirts, ads, notebooks, bags, photo albums, towels, food, cars, you name it, and headlines and ads from the four Brazilian newspapers in Japan: Folha Mundial, International Press, Jornal Tudo Bem, Nova Visao, as well as the English publication, The Japan Times.

Dream Time
Happiness is loving someone who loves you.
She is remarkable for her fawn technic.

Nikkei mostra penis a japonesa e vai preso
N.M.O., 27, was arrested on the 27th in Hamamatsu after having exposed his penis to a Japanese woman, M. M., 22. According to police, the Brazilian had also touched the thighs of the victim.

Champion K
International New Sports Association
Exciting Sports Scene.
Complete Power Fulmember
Your energy and health will
be at their this year
Something and Yourself.

Dunga: O samurai da selecao
Captain of the Brazilian World Cup Champion Team currently plays for the Japanese soccer team, Jubilo Iwata. He reveals his opinions about Japanese soccer and his life in Japan in this exclusive interview with Jornal Tudo Bem.

Urbane selection for your sweet human living.

Joy Work Corporation Ltd.
Selecting Men, Women and Couples
Age: Between 18 and 40 years
Type of Service: Aluminum parts factory
Salary: Men: 1,300 to 1,500 yen/hr; Women: 900 yen/hr
Furnished lodgings: 2 persons per apartment
Come work for a solid agency that offers complete assistance.
Call now. Assistance in Portuguese

Urgent, Men Wanted!
Locale: Aichi-ken, Toyota-shi, Anjo-shi, and Kariya-shi
Type of service: Fabrication and mounting of automotive parts
Day shift: 11,200 yen/day
Night shift: 13,510 yen/day
Overtime: 1,820 yen/hr
Alternating shifts: Day shifts: 8:00-17:00; Night shifts: 22:00-7:30
Age: 18 - 40 years
Benefits: Health plan, paid vacations and bonus
For information, call: WORLD SUPPORT

Sakamaki is arrested
Current Nomura chief admits firm erred

Hideo Sakamaki, former president of Nomura Securities Co., was arrested Friday on suspicion of approving illegal payoffs to a "sokaiya" corporate racketeer to compensate investment losses.

Teddy Market
Old Bear of Project
It's really true when they say
"Many hands make light work."
You'll regret it if you fear it. Think!

Brasileiros processam empreiteira por salarios
Acao foi movida contra a Chubu Seiko, que prejudicou 150 pessoas em Shizuoka.

Brazilians have taken legal action against the hiring agency Chubu Seiko in an attempt to receive unpaid salaries over a period of two months. It's been seven months since the closing of Chubu Seiko. At the time of the agency's closure, many employees were expelled from their lodgings as the agency had failed to pay the rents. The owner, Seishu Hashimoto has disappeared.

I never want to lose
the innocence of my heart.
Refreshing times flow gently.

Investigacao: Policia descobre farsa em assalto de Y3 mi
Brazilian, Roberto Takashi Takanami, 25, was arrested on the 14th, Wednesday, for having invented an assault to justify the disappearance of three million yen . . .
Takanami was an employee of a hiring agency in Toyota and the money would have been used to pay the salary of 20 employees.

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey work of the stars.

Maioria ainda ignora os beneficios dos seguros
Sumiao Kawahara, 48, worked in construction in Ota, Gunma and fell from a height of eight meters, fracturing his tibia and hip. Elza Koga, 42, of Sakai, Gunma, fractured her foot under a forklift. Nelson Nakata, 32, of Kani, Gifu, lost his index finger two years ago. Claudio Ogata, 21, of Anjo, Aichi, lost his finger. George Shinohara, 12, of Hamamatsu had his left foot amputated and part of the right leg bone due to cancer.

Since 1982
original range of casual wear from California
Beverly Hills Polo Club

Brasileiros ficam revoltados com declaracao de politico
Japanese Representative, Juichiro Yamagawa, of the Shinseikai Party of Hamamatsu, angered the community in Japan when he stated that Brazilians dissatisfied with the health insurance system should return to their home country.

Joky gal
Your heart will dance to
Sincerity American style

For sophisticate woman
I'm particular about fashion
and personal things.
and that's what I'd like to share with you.

Destaque: Vanessa
Name: Vanessa Cristina Iaketa, 19, from Santos-SP.

She's been in Japan three years and lives in Oizumi, Gunma.
Japan: "It's a good place to live as long as you have family."
Prferred food: "Anything as long as it's seafood."
Sport: "Ice Skating"
Quality: "Honesty"
Defect: "I'm too possessive."
Sex: "Natural, as long as it's with love."
Love: "Very difficult to explain."
Message: "Everyone who comes to Japan should have well-defined
objectives in order not to lose your way."

I hope to experience many love affairs.

Acidente mata brasileiro; japonesa assume a culpa
Claudio Tsutomo Utsunomiya, 21, died in a collision with another car in Nagano. The driver of the oncoming car had fallen asleep.

Your trip with nature
will always be a pleasant
environmental adventure.

KDD investe Y300 mi no sistema call back
The Kokusai Denshin Denwa (KDD), the Japanese international telephone company, is investing 300 million yen in Forval International Telecommunications (FIT), a leading company in the international system of call back, with its headquarters in Tokyo.

Stay back
200 ft

Ajudar imigrante ilegal leva a prisao
Helping illegal immigrants may result in a prison sentence of five years and a fine of three million yen. The Diet Judicial Committee approved unanimously the new immigration law to tighten control of the entry of illegal foreigners in Japan.

Please tempting the taste of Hida beef

Plaspa Meat Shop & Restaurant
Karaoke in Portuguese!!
Ribs 480 yen/kg
Steaks 780 yen/kg
Pork Sausages 850 yen/kg
Pig's feet/Tail/Ear 600 yen/kg
Fish (Pintado) 2000 yen/kg
Fish (Piranha) 1100 yen/kg
Delivery direct to your home anywhere in Japan!

Looks good. Tastes good, too. Right?
Did you know I am a famous cook in Japan?
I have my own restaurant!

Harumaki with hearts of palm and mochi in a green sauce are dishes created by Sadako Cida Doi, chef, who has won the admiration of the Japanese.

Flash Food*Formal Food
Famous Food*Fairyfood*Fight Food
Floral Food* Feeling Food
Flying Food*Fever Food
Faithful Food*Fire Food
Fall in Love Food

Aberta nova lanchonete
Twelve kinds of pastel, seven varieties of pizza, twelve different sandwiches and thirteen dishes of canaps in an am biance of a typical Brazilian bar are the delicacies of the newly opened K-Pastel, in Hamamatsu, in the province of Shizuoka.

Waffle Furato Shitsu
Here is a small white flying
And there, a honeybee's popped out.
Some flowers have just begun to come out, here and there.
It's about time for me to burst into bloom, now!

Barbie paralitica nao pega no Brasil (Paralytic Barbie Doll doesn't make it in Brazil)
Nova boneca foi lancada nos Estados Unidos e ja vende mais que a "normal."

Casal real fala da visita ao Brasil
During an interview, the emperors remember friends and dekasegi, to whom they send their good wishes.

The Emperor stated, "I will be very happy if this (dekasegi phenomenon) results in opportunities for more interchange between the people of our countries. I hope that their stay in Japan will be fruitful and that they can make good friends here before they return to their country."

Petite note
Let simple and old fashioned myself
stay with you, while ordinary things have been disappearing in the world.

Brasileiro mata familia e tenta suicidio
The wife of Brazilian, Alberto Abe, 36, was killed by knifing on Thursday night, 15th, in Inuyama, province of Aichi. It is suspected that he also killed his two daughters, one five-year-old and the other seven months, incinerating the bodies in the smelting ovens where he works. Abe attempted suicide, but was saved. The motives that led the Brazilian to commit the crime are unknown, but are perhaps related to depression provoked by a health problem.

Both a bird in the sky and
we are the same creature.
They tell us the truth that
if you want to take the
lively pictures,
you have to feel the breath of them.

Homi Danchi corre risco de virar cenario de batalha
A series of incidents (vandalism, noise from motorcycles at midnight and loud music) have disturbed the routine of the condominium complex of Homi Danchi, housing 2,500 Brazilians in Toyota. The Homeowners Association inscribed a series of regulations on a large sign with a translation in Portuguese. Among the rules are the prohibitions of throwing trash from the windows and of having barbecues. After various frustrated attempts to live better with the strangers, the Association asked the police and public entities for a larger participation in the solution to their problems.

Dream Collection
So many wonderful
dreams, wherever we go!
Dream collectors, all:
let's make every dream our own!

Imoveis no Brasil
Your Real Estate in Brazil
Boa oportunidade para compra de populares esta no Grande ABC

Arco-Iris Residential Condominium is located in the center of Sao Bernardo de Campo, with 296 apartments, a useful area of 43 square meters and a leisure area of 1,200 square meters.

Witness the sky above is blue and infinite the great
sun is white and scorching the seagulls are coolly sailing.

Apenas 31% dos alunos estrangeiros conhecem o idioma japones para entrar no colegial
Around half of the foreign junior high students in Japanese schools wish to enter high school, but only 31% of them are proficient enough in the Japanese language necessary to accompany classes, a study by the Tokyo Gakugei University revealed last month.

Individuality opens up an age
actual feeling
Unintentionally with individuality
and nonchalantly with sensibility
Toroppa designed by LeCien

Jovens estariam consumido droga em Hamamatsu - Game Center
According to a central police bulletin dated May 22 in Hamamatsu, an 18 year-old Brazilian was arrested for drugs on May 7 at 8:13 PM.

Doraemon is the cat type robot.

Brasileiro preso denuncia 2 alunos por consumir droga
15 year-old students confess using crack in Hamamatsu.

All children grows up little by little and
Childhood turns into only a memory.
The smile is full of the urge to do mischief.

Faleceu difusor da pedagogia dos oprimidos
Brazil lost one of its great activists in education. Paulo Freire, 75 years, teacher and writer, father of five children, died on May 2 in Albert Einstein Hospital, from heart problems.

When you put your body in the Mother Nature. You sure feel the greatness of the god creation it embraces you tenderly and wash your agony you picked up in your life off the grand view and the connoted wisdom.
Alpine Equipment Baboleta
Croster Dragon

Policia busca esfaqueador que matou casal brasileiro
Women found dead in suitcase with head and hands exposed.
The Brazilian couple, Carlos Alberto Osako, 30, and Masayo Fujiharu, 30, were found dead by knifing on Saturday, April 26, in Fukui. The body of the man was rolled up in a blanket and was discovered by a woman walking on route 364, next to a tunnel in Maruoka-cho.

A photograph can
run our imaginary writing brush,
give us a free emotion.
The one who heartily releases numerous shutters
of the subjects with rising emotion,
he will be able to open a happy exhibition.

"Crime da mala" apavora brasileiros
Mystery: police discover blood in the house and interrogate hiring agencies
Signs of blood found in the interior of the duplex where the couple, Carlos Alberto Oseko and Masayo Fujiharu (left, in a photo provided by the family) . . .

Note Avenue
Times simply too very important to afford to be forgotten are the true substance of our memories.

Brasileiros Desaparecidos
Brazilians Missing

Name: Antonio Hideaki Araki
Age: 52 years
Last address Ibaraki-ken, Ishioka-shi
Contact in Brazil: Lourdes

Name: Roberto Hitoshi Toge
Age: 37 years
Last address: Kanagawa-ken, Yokosuka-shi
Contact in Brazil: Neusa

Name: Alex Morais Tomioka
Age: 17 years
Contact in Japan: Loja Nadaya (Koorien Station) Neyagawa-shi, Mr. Akita

I'm Nudy. Who are you?
Hair Water Milk

"To my dear wife Helena, I wish you a happy birthday. And that God gives you health and many years of life. These are the hopes of your husband who loves you very much." (From Iochio Ito, Sukagawa, Fukushima)

I love every bone in your body including my own.

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Circle K Recipes


Wash rice until the water runs clear. For each cup of rice, add a cup of water. Place in rice cooker, and push the button.


Rinse rice and drain. Saut* chopped garlic, onion and salt in oil. Add rice. Add water. For each cup of rice, add about 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and cover until tender. (If you live in Japan, dump the sauted rice into the rice cooker, add water, and push the button.)

One day at a restaurant that specializes in tofu, I heard the people at the next table ordering "raisu." "Raisu, hitotsu." I thought I had misunderstood, but eventually I could also read the side-order in katakana on menus in other restaurants. That you can order rice at a Japanese restaurant seems obvious, but that it's called "rice" is one of those things in Japan that has a reason you can only guess. My guess it that the word kome means rice, the grain, and the word gohan means rice, but also refers to food generally. No word for just an extra bowl of rice. So raisu. But, it used to be that if you were eating food (gohan), you were eating rice (gohan).

My grandfather came from the small village of Naegi, now incorporated into the larger city of Nakatsugawa in Gifu Prefecture. His family apparently owned enough land to parcel a portion out to tenants who paid in rice. In those days, rice was legal tender. A large storehouse used to stand where the family turned that rice into sake. My father once speculated that the fall of this family may have came about from drinking that legal tender. Recently the family who since owns and farms the land in Naegi sent us a large sack of rice produced on that very land. Naegi no okome. I washed and cooked several cups of it very carefully in the rice cooker, and we all ate it very carefully, trying at first to taste each grain. It was an odd little ritual like eating your ancestors. Or eating legal tender.

I was born in the year of the rabbit. On evenings with a full moon, I look up to decipher the outline of a rabbit pounding rice into the giant omochi that is, they say, the moon. When I was a child, my grandmother stuck a few grains of rice to the lobes of my ears. I always thought my ears were too big, but my grandmother said big lobes were good luck; if you can stick rice to your lobes, you'll be rich. Kanemochi. The sticky rice knows. Legal tender here.

In Japan, rice must be the sticky sort and also polished white. One eats the purity of it. It doesn't matter if its nutrition is negligible. You can rarely find in stores any other sort of rice or grain for that matter. No brown rice. No barley. No cracked wheat. No corn meal. No long grain. A Brazilian woman explained the difference between the short and long grains: "Japanese rice: Juntos venceremos!/Together we will succeed! Brazilian rice: Sozinho, consigo!/I can do it myself!" But, heaven forbid that the Japanese should eat the long grain rice of Thailand.

Everyone can tell you how Thai rice was introduced into the Japanese market only to be given a bad rep and thrown away by the tons. They complained: It had a funny smell. Someone found a piece of insect in it. It wasn't sticky. It was cheap. It was just a food staple from a poor country. In that sense, it wasn't rice. It wasn't legal tender. Who's eating it now? Probably the Brazilians.

It's the rainy season in Japan. Water fills rice paddies across the countryside. Houses, mini marts and factories encroach upon the planted land, replacing the fields gradually, but nothing yet replaces the reign of rice. Rare in some parts of the country to see plantings of vegetables or fruits. And rarer still: corn, beans, other grains, or cover crops. From the looks of the supermarket offerings, variety and quantity are sacrificed for an almost cloned perfection in the produce. For example, every eggplant looks like every other eggplant in size and shape. The same goes for cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, apples, oranges, melons, etc. Someone produced the incredible statistic that Japan throws away imperfect vegetables and fruits in quantities that equal the weight of the total production of rice each year. You pay for this statistic: 1 tomato = $1.00. 1 apple = $1.00. 1 head of lettuce = $2.00. 1/4 head of nappa cabbage = $1.50. 10 kilos/20 lbs rice = $40.00.

Although food (gohan) is rice (gohan), obviously rice is not really food. Certainly it is also sake, nuka, roof thatching, paper, glue, starch, matting, and even in the past, foot gear and raincoats. But beyond these byproducts, its production, its purity, its mythic qualities, its value, define every other thing called food. Everything is measured against it. Legal tender. The stubbornness of rice. The persistence of rice. The gold standard was abolished years ago, but not this rice standard.


Bring a pot of water with dashi to boil. Add a scoop of miso paste, and chopped vegetables, seaweed, mushrooms or tofu.


Separate the beans from any pebbles or insects. Wash and soak the beans. Cook in pressure cooker until tender. In a separate pan, saut* onions, garlic, salt in oil or fat. Smash a cup of the cooked beans into this mixture to make a thickening paste, then stir everything back into the cooked beans. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Rice-and-beans. Arroz-e-feijao. Inseparable. For Brazilians, the only food that sustains. When the early Japanese immigrants to Brazil arrived on coffee plantations in the twenties, they received a ration of rice, beans, salt, coffee and sugar. Sugar has always been plentiful in Brazil, and in those days the Japanese knew only to add it to the beans. After several weeks of the sweet stuff, the salty fare might have been a pleasant surprise. In any case, rice and beans became an accepted staple, the food that makes the people, the daily blessing, a comida sagrada. If gohan (and probably miso soup) is food to Japanese, arroz-e-feijao is gohan to Brazilians.

Thanks to this cultivation of the Brazilian palette, the first commercial ventures among Brazilians in Japan have been related to the making and sale of Brazilian food. What is it that the food of your homeland, of your mother's kitchen, will provide you? Why do we crave it so badly? Why do our tongues pull us home? Was mom's cooking really that good? When Japanese immigrants got to Brazil, they spent much of their years laboring to make vegetables, tofu, miso, and shoyu. Now, the dekasegi in Japan finance a lucrative network of imports from Brazil, New Zealand, Australia, and the Philippines to eat the stuff that pleases the literal mother tongue: mandioca, Sonho de Valsa, Guaran*, po de queijo, lingia, goiabada, fub*, suco de maracuj*.

In the center of every enclave of Brazilian life in Japan, you find food. Sometimes it is a restaurant; sometimes a cantina and grocery store, or a karaoke bar. Sometimes it is a truck stocked with Brazilian goods making designated stops to the lodgings of factory workers in remote towns. Often it is the obento/marmita lady, the woman who delivers boxed lunches and dinners to factory workers.

The obento lady brings a boxed lunch with the always dependable arroz-e-feijao, a piece of meat, and a side of vegetables. She says the young Brazilian men say that the Japanese lunches don't "sustain." Rice and pickles don't make it. They need food that sticks to your ribs. Some don't care for fish. In the first months that they arrive, they all lose weight quickly. The obento lady also brings news, gossip, motherly advice. Often she's walking social services; she'll give you information about health insurance, your visa, your driver's license. She's been here awhile, started her own business, knows the ropes. Her cell phone rings constantly as she delivers her food. "Carlos, listen, you perforated your lungs once already. Forget the overtime for awhile. Give it a rest. Do you hear me?" "Luis? I heard you moved to Toyota. Of course there's a friend of mine over there who makes obento. Do you want her telephone number?"

Arroz-e-feijo, the daily blessing, the tie that binds, not just food but a social construct.


Arrange thin slices of file mignon on a plate with a variety of cut vegetables, tofu and mushroom. Cook at the table on a hot plate with a little oil. Serve with rice, beer and sake.

Bife Milanesa

Pound slices of beef flat. Dip them in egg and bread crumbs and fry. Serve with rice and beans.

About seven years ago, a small butcher shop in the town of Yoro in Gifu put out a flyer offering imported meat from Australia at extraordinarily cheap prices. The flyer attracted several Brazilians who came to buy the meat and who also returned on the following Sunday, despite the fact that the offer was for one week only. The Brazilians peered past the counter and asked about some pieces of meat on the block. This was meat cut away from the fine rib-eye or perhaps from the mignon that Japanese customers expected to buy, but the Brazilians offered to take this unwanted meat. Every weekend, the Brazilians returned for more meat, for the side cuts and the tougher meats. Finally, the owner found herself too busy to handle these Brazilians and invited them into the shop to cut away the pieces they wanted: picanha, colcho duro, colcho mole, ponta de agulha.

In time, Brazilians came by the busloads, set up barbecue pits on the empty lot on the side of the shop, roasted meat, played music, sang and danced. The owners covered the empty lot when it became cold, and the churrasco and the music continued. They gave up trying to sell fancy cuts of fine Hida and Kobe beef at 1,200yen/$12.00 per 100 grams, and transformed the business to provide imported Australian meat cheaply for a more voracious clientele, for Brazilians whose families can be counted on to each buy as much as 10 kilos of meat---beef, chicken, pork, bacon, ham and sausages---per week. Brazilian grocery items were added to the shop. The empty lot turned into a churrascaria restaurant complete with live music and karaoke. It only remained to sponsor a soccer team to turn completely Brazilian. Now there are four other such shops in four other cities in Japan, and they also do a mail order business, shipping meat directly to the homes of individuals in places as far as Okinawa and Hokkaido. For this purpose, 100 tons of meat are shipped from Australia every month.

As for the owners, the husband is Japanese; the wife is Korean. It's one of those Creole situations: Korean Japanese buying Australian meat and selling it in Japan to Brazilians and Peruvians.


Fill gyoza wrappers with a mixture of ground pork and chopped vegetables. Arrange them on a pan, frying them all on one side in a small amount of oil. When browned, spill about a 1/4 cup of water into the pan, lower heat, cover and cook until tender.


Fill pastel wrappers with cheese, hearts of palm, tomatoes, or ground beef. Fry until crisp and golden.

I learned from my grandmother that after rice, everything else is okazu. At her house, lunch was always a bowl of rice and every jar of tsukemono, pickled fish, salted squid, she could bring out of the refrigerator. I imagine okazu to be an old term, not used much in Japan today. The Hawaiians still use it; in Hilo, I tried a sushi they call okazu-maki. The Brazilians have a similar term: mistura. Everything after rice and beans is mistura. Gyoza is okazu. Pastel is mistura.

I don't know if anyone has ever done a study of the origins of the pastel in Brazil. I assume the Chinese brought fried wonton to Brazil and adopted it to Brazilian tastes. But it was the Japanese immigrants who also became attached to its production, frying it behind stands at the feiras or open market places. In Brazil, fried wonton became much larger in size. Instead of a pork filling, there is cheese, hearts of palm, tomatoes, or ground beef. The dough is thicker; the secret in the recipe they say is pinga, that most potent of cane brandies. Now pastel is back in Asia, but it is back as pastel. It is not Chinese or Korean or even Japanese; it is Brazilian. And the secret in the dough is pinga. Still, the other day, I ate a fried wonton filled with cheese and omochi.

We visited the very traditional village of Shirakawa where all the houses are 200 years-old and have thatched roofs. Also special to this area is the mountain cooking which includes fern sprouts, bamboo shoots and mushrooms gathered from the mountain side. Curiously we visited a factory that packages these mountain veggies because we had heard that a Brazilian family works in this factory. As it turns out, all the materials---fern sprouts, mushrooms, shoots---for this local specialty are imported from China and Russia, and have been from the last 12 years. To use the local produce would be far too expensive. So there you have it: unknown to thousands of tourists who pass this way, the packages of mountain vegetables bought as omiyage come from China and Russia and are made and packaged by Brazilians.

An Okinawan nutritionist in Yokohama opened a Brazilian restaurant because she noticed that the young Brazilians coming to work in Japan were all losing weight, all seemed to have difficulty eating Japanese food. She wondered about this and went to Brazil to learn to cook Brazilian dishes. A Brazilian cook came to Japan to study Japanese cuisine; now she is the chef at a Brazilian restaurant in Nagoya whose fine food attracts a clientele both Japanese and Brazilian. A nikkei whose family traveled from Okinawa to Bolivia to Brazil to Yokohama recently opened her kitchen in Kawasaki offering both Okinawan and Brazilian dishes. Everybody is making okazu. Everybody is making mistura.


Beat eggs and a clear dashi soup together. Place pieces of chicken, ginko nuts, bamboo shoots, mushroom and fish cake in ceramic cups. Pour egg-soup mixture on top. Steam over boiling water until set. Serve hot in cups.


Beat eggs, sweetened condensed milk and cream in blender. Pour into a pan lined with sugar caramelized with cinnamon and cloves. Steam over boiling water until set. When cool, turn the pudim over on a plate to serve.

Lately I have been using the chawanmushi cups to make Brazilian pudim. The last time I made pastel, I tried it with cheese and omochi. Using omochi in this way reminded me that some California company makes pizza omochi, garlic-cheese omochi and raisin-cinnamon omochi. Another company specializes in jalepeno and smoked tofu. The other day we received a fancy box of chocolate covered sembei. In Japan, McDonald's has a teriyaki-chicken burger, the pizzas all have corn on them, and curry rice comes with tsukemono. I heard some Brazilian women have used the rice cooker to bake cakes. Nothing is sacred. Your tradition is someone else's originality. It's a big taste adventure. And then again, "raisu, hitotsu." Gochisosamadeshita.

Circle K Rules

Japanese Rules

1. Remove your shoes when entering houses and buildings.
2. Always bring omiyage when you visit as a guest.
3. Don't leave your chopsticks stuck in your rice bowl like 2 posts.
4. Avoid the number 4.
5. Dress according to your age and the season.
6. For the same work: Pay men 1,200 yen per hour; pay women 900 yen per hour.
7. Use the toilet slippers, but don't forget to leave them with the toilet.
8. Enryo until your host insists.
9. Wash outside the bath before soaking, and don't bring the towel in with you.
10. Drive on the left side of the road; if it's too narrow, drive in the middle.
11. When wearing a kimono, wrap yourself left over right.
12. Follow the table for incremental salary increases and title changes according to a man's age.
13. His opinion is her opinion is my opinion is your opinion. I agree.

The Rule Board

(A large sign in Japanese and Portuguese at Homi-Danchi, condominium complex housing some 8,000 people -- 2,000 of whom are Brazilian -- in Homi-gaoka, Toyota City)

Let's respect the rules of the residential condominium!
....Please do not park without requesting permission.
....Let's stop driving motorcycles at high speeds.
....Please don't use the plaza late at night and before the sun rises.
....Let's stop throwing cans and bottles in the streets and around the buildings.
....Please don't write on the walls or objects.
....During parties or reunions in apartments, please take care with the noise.
....* Let's stop barbecuing on the verandah.
....Let's take care with noise pollution.
....* Please regulate the volume on your television and stereo system.
....* Conversing in loud voices bothers your neighbors.
....Please put trash out in accordance with the determined models and in the appropriate location.
....Do not throw objects or trash out of apartment windows.
....* In particular, the throwing of cigarettes is common; please do not throw them.

The residential condominium is a place where many people live communally. Let's collaborate to have a pleasurable daily life, thinking also of our neighbors.

-Municipal Corporation for Habitational Conservation
Chubu Branch/Nagoya Office

In addition to the Rules Board, flyers are also distributed throughout Homi-Danchi explaining the following regulations in Portuguese:

Precautionary Notice for Daily Living

1. In these public housing units live various people, each with a different rhythm of life. Furthermore, the culture and customs of Japan are different from that of other countries. Thus, we ask that each person respect the regulations of communal life, to avoid any problems with your neighbors.

2. Do not turn on radios and televisions at high volume, principally in the early morning and late hours at night. Also during this time, take care not to make noise in the corridors or even in your apartment.

3. It is prohibited to raise cats, dogs or any other animal in the apartment because this may cause inconveniences for your neighbors.

4. In each home, the trash much be separated by category. This trash should be left in specific locations and on specific days of the week. It is prohibited to throw trash out on the previous night or at other inappropriate times. Stray dogs and other animals can spread the trash during the night, causing inconvenience to the residents and neighbors.

5. The activities of the Association are realized through the financial resources received monthly from residents to the Residential Condominium Association. These monthly revenues are used for the operational costs of the Association, such as the realization of events, printing of bulletins, acquisition of equipment, celebratory notices and condolences, etc.
Condominium dues serve to cover the costs of indispensable services for the daily activities of the condominium, such as the cost of electricity to illuminate stairs, corridors, passages, halls and rooms for reunions, maintenance and repairs of installations, cleaning the land, piping and drainage, and water for collective use, etc.
Any late payments will cause delays in the operation of the Association and this will cause in the last analysis, inconveniences to the proper residents. Do not forget to pay your monthly Residential Condominium Association dues before the due date in the same manner as your rent.

6. Notifications of the Association of Condominium Residents and the City are circulated through clipboards. As soon as you have read these notices, pass them to the next resident.

7. From time to time, the Association of Condominium Residents has a clean-up, cutting of grass and weeds, etc., in the form of a group event. This work is realized by the residents and the cooperation of everyone is requested.
On the other hand, there are also festivals and other events of fraternization. Try to participate to promote friendship with other residents.

........The Brazilians have had difficulty following all these rules. No loud music. No late night conversations in the plaza. No churrasco. No speeding around on motorcycles. An extremely detailed categorizing of trash (burnables, cans, bottles, breakables, large items) with specific methods for disposal, specific days and times, and specific locations for specific removal. Brazilians forget to pass the clipboard or don't read the contents. Finally, the group clean-up days are monthly on Sunday mornings from 8:30 am. While their Japanese neighbors are outside trimming hedges, sweeping paths and cutting grass, the Brazilians turn over in their beds, preferring to pay the fine rather than to wake on a Sunday at such an ungodly hour.

........In the meantime, the Japanese residents are at their wit's end. The Brazilians are unruly. Their presence has made a muck of a quiet routine. Not living in these housing units, it's difficult to imagine this complaint. A tour of Homi-Danchi and its environs gives you a sense of an oppressive quiet---the sound of sleeping people who work the night shift, the sound of a silent majority who want very badly to be accepted, the sound of people trying very hard to be quiet. Even the children seem to play quietly. This is as quiet as Brazilians can possibly be. This is probably as ruly as it gets.

Brazilian Rules

1. There are no rules.
2. All rules may be broken or avoided.
3. Dar um jeitinho. (There is always a way.)
4. Always bring your babies and small children to parties.
5. Men on the verandah with beers; women in the kitchen.
6. When leaving a party, give yourself an hour to kiss or hug each person good-by.
7. Females: Two kisses in greeting; three kisses to marry; four to avoid living with your mother-in-law.
8. Males: Left hand on his shoulder. Right hand patting his belly.
9. Nothing is sacred; tell a joke.
10. Taking advantage of a situation is not necessarily stealing.
11. Since nothing works, doing nothing may be the best approach.

........Brazilians are a very physical people. They touch each other a lot. They kiss and hug. They kiss and hug when meeting, and kiss and hug when taking leave. It takes some mastering to get that close to someone's face with just the right brush of the cheek. Even though it all seems so natural and friendly, there are rules about all this touching. One Japanese man got carried away and grabbed a woman's breasts. She hauled out with a metal pipe and nearly beat him to a pulp. Later he explained his impulsive excess; those breasts were just too beautiful to believe.

........Still, Brazilians have an expectation about the "abrao." They send embraces in their messages. They send "beijos." Their expectation is that this show of affection is a demonstration of warmth and openness. Without this, the world is a cold place; thus, others who may find this kissing disconcerting are a cold people. Frio. Americans and Japanese hardly show affection in public; to kiss a mere acquaintance seems a little over-done. A handshake is just fine. Or how about a little bow. It's probably not about cold or hot; it's more like what's comfortable for a body to do. Brazilians kiss. Japanese get naked together in hot baths.

........One of the well-known nisei/sansei traumas has been that their parents don't show physical affection for each other or their children. A lack of such affection among Nikkei in Brazilian or even American society is cause for an identity crisis: "I thought my parents didn't love me." Since one side of my family is the distant sort and the other, touchie-feelie, I've had to learn that affection is made of many things. Still, growing up and seeing that Japanese never even shook hands, I had some idea that they also never touched each other. Working with a Japanese director on one of my plays and seeing her put my Japanese characters in physical contact with each other finally abolished this assumption. Announcement: Japanese do in fact touch each other.

........Abraos e beijos. It's a fine art among the Latins. It's easy to think that the rule is not hugging and kissing, that rules separate us. But it's also possible to think that hugging and kissing are rules in themselves, that otherwise we shall be separate. And then again, I embrace you from a great distance. It's a long embrace without rules.

American Rules

1. Speak English.
2. He who has makes the rules.
3. Smoking is prohibited in public places and on airplanes.
4. Just do it.
5. When in doubt, consult your attorney.
6. Drink Coke. Enjoy the real thing.
7. We are the world.
8. We are the happiest place on Earth.
9. We accept American Express, Mastercard or Visa.

........I remember years ago seeing a pamphlet for Japanese travelers explaining with cartoons a series of a possible scenarios in foreign places and the appropriate behaviors. There was everything from shaking hands to sitting (not stepping up) on the toilet seats. The stepping up on the toilet seats had to do with the nature of the Japanese toilet which is on the floor. You have to crouch over it. The Brazilians have fondly dubbed it the "motoquinha" meaning that you "ride" it much like a motorcycle. Now public places often have stalls marked "Western Toilet," and hotels and homes boast of the most sophisticated toilets in the world.

........A company named Toto sells a toilet with a heated seat, bidet and air drying system. Truly amazing. Somehow the nozzle for the bidet can squirt you in the vagina or the anus. Yes, there are clearly two pictures signs to choose from. My friend's father demonstrated his home model and asked me if we didn't have such toilets in America. When I said probably not, he jokingly said, in that case, he probably couldn't travel there. Furthermore, since he got his new toilet, he never uses toilet paper anymore. In any case, I began to feel that I needed a pamphlet with cartoons explaining a series of possible scenarios and appropriate behaviors. If I pressed the button for bidet, how could I raise the temperature of the water? More importantly how could I make the squirting water stop?

........Then there's this odd feature in women's toilets in some public places: the sound of flushing.. On first inspection and unable to read the Japanese explanation, I kept trying to flush the toilet by passing my hand over a sensor. Curiously, all I got was the recorded sound of flushing. No water. Just the sound. Finally I dragged an interpreter into a bathroom for an explanation. Ah! Apparently Japanese women have found the sound of peeing offensive; to mask this sound, they flush and pee at the same time. It's an enormous waste of water; so, Toto invented the sound of flushing. TM.

........Finally, Japanese bathrooms, even the most luxurious (marble counters, ikebana, perfumed soap and all), never have paper towels. You're supposed to bring your own towel, and I always forget. As a result, the bathrooms are quite litter-free. Who knows? With Toto, one day they may be paper-free.

........A Brazilian friend, Ana Maria Bahiana, has written a book, America: A to Z, sold in airports, detailing all the habits and situations of American life that Brazilians find exasperating, funny, unexplainable or odd. Under "B" is bidet. There are no bidets in the USA, she notes. Ana Maria misses her bidet, but I can't remember that anyone really used it in Brazil; it was usually filled with dirty laundry in most houses. Women use them to wash their panties. Nevertheless, all houses seem to have them. The construction outlets sell the toilet with a matching bidet. It's a pair, you see.

........Public places in Brazil of course don't have bidets. Some don't have toilet paper or paper towels either. In this case, there might be a woman who offers you these essentials for a small fee. This woman supposedly also cleans the bathroom, scrubbing the toilets and mopping the floors. The fee you pay is probably her dinner. But every now and then, you may not have any change for the toilet lady; you've got to run out of the lady's room and hope she doesn't come chasing after you.

........American women did away with pay toilets a long time ago. This was a major act of feminism at the time. In fact, an Asian American woman rose to political fame on this platform: pee for free. Still there's ground to cover here. Queuing up in endless lines for the women's room in theaters always reminds you that a man was probably the theater's architect.

........The thing about American public toilets is the great amount of paper in them: gigantic toilet paper rolls so you will never be without, and paper towels that finally fill and spill over the trash receptacles. Most importantly, American toilets usually have paper seats. You can hear the women in the other stalls ripping them out of the containers and slapping down on the seats. You never know what could be yucking up the seat of a toilet. Some women must use the hover method where you sit without touching. Heck, some people must just sit on the seat anyway. Who knows, maybe someone is stepping up and crouching.

........What all this toiletry has to say about rules is probably not erudite. The Romans invented plumbing. If you've ever tried to fix the plumbing, you feel as if nothing has changed since the Romans. At Versailles, we're told that no toilets existed; you simply disappeared for a moment behind the velvet curtains along the walls. At the Iso Gardens in Kagoshima, a guide dressed in a kimono shows you the toilet where the Lord Shimazu sat, his bowel movements falling into a bed of fragrant cedar leaves. You look in the toilet and sure enough: branches of cedar leaves. Some rules are rituals. Some habits.

Circle K Rules

1. Immigrate into your own country.
2. Learn to cook your favorite meals.
3. Ask the next question.

Just Do It in 24 Hours
1997 Nike Brazil World Tour: Osaka
World Cup Exhibition Game: Brazil Vs Japan

August 13, 1997 * 7 PM

The preceding announcement may or may not excite the imagination depending on your attachment to soccer, to Brazil or to the World Cup. Despite our scheduled departure from Japan on August 15, an invitation to see this game could not (I repeat) could not in the minds of my Brazilian husband and our son be passed up. Dunga, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, the coach Zagalo, Brazil's finest. They would all be there. And they would test the mettle of the new Japanese team and its aspirations to join the fury over the most contested of games across the entire world.

August 13 1 am

I am awake writing as usual as everyone else sleeps. I am doing this on the floor because we no longer have any furniture in preparation to leave this rented house.

My friend and translator, Kenichi Eguchi, will be working as an interpreter for Nike at the exhibition game in Osaka. He has faxed information about where to pick up free tickets and the best way to get around Osaka to the stadium. His instructions are based on taking the Shinkansen from Nagoya to Osaka, but Ronaldo has called Brazilian friends to catch a ride. In any case, I set this information aside for Ronaldo and Jon. I putter around the last of our preparations for packing. I might under other circumstances prepare a snack for them, but we no longer have a refrigerator, not to mentioned kitchen supplies. We are living out of the Circle K kombini in the meantime.

4 am

Despite the hour but charged over the promise of this daybreak, Ronaldo and Jon rush out to the corner Circle K to meet our Brazilian friends. They load up with a Circle K regimen of Morinaga aloe vera juice, assorted musubis and breads for the road.

Jorge and Masaye Takahashi pull up in a Delica van with three young men, all members of the Viva Brasil soccer team at Homi Danchi. Jorge is the team captain; Masaye is the team mom. The team members are between 17 and 25; they are exemplar of the youth and energy that drive the subparts factories in and around Toyota. On weekends, these men spend their frustrations and retrieve their youth in traveling soccer competitions. Today, a Wednesday, they've skipped out of their jobs in order to see live for the first time the Brazilian champions, the team that sustains their dreams and self-perceptions in a distant home. To lose a day of work is no small thing, but the choice is a particularly Brazilian one, steeped in a confusion of identity, rebellion and saudades.

It's a 3-hour ride over the kosoku (highway) to Osaka. It's also 3 hours of storytelling. There are jokes and prankster tales revealing a childhood full of a humor unimaginable in Japan or even the U.S. My son revels in the stories -- escapades to steal a free pizza, how to avoid detection of radar when speeding, stolen car radios recycled. The stories aren't focused on dishonesty; they are told to reveal the trickster, cunning, a good joke, the stodgy made foolish, the system turned on its side. This is a world of hilarity encapsulated in a Delica van. Outside the severe landscape, paid for by tolls at about 10 cents a kilometer, rolls out along the kosoku.

7:30 am

At this hour, clearly the first arrivals by car, the Delica van gets the closest parking space to the stadium, some kind of miracle one guesses. Its 7 occupants tumble out and survey the situation. Along the sides of the stadium, people in sleeping bags have overnight staked their claims to places in a long winding line of fans, hopeful of getting the choice seats in general admission. Two of the young Brazilians take off to scout the stadium, slipping through the gates, wandering through the empty stands, making use of the bathrooms, taking photographs like accomplished spies.

8:45 am

Ronaldo meets Kenichi at the appointed time and place and receives 4 coveted tickets to the game. The story is that this game sold out months ago in the first hour of sales. The value of these tickets is compounded by the moment. Scalpers with wads of cash buy and sell, offering a $40 ticket for as much as $150. The Delica crew needs 3 more tickets, but $150 is too high.

10 am

Ronaldo and Jon make a run for MacMuffins at McDonald's. The crew scarfs down three Big Macs apiece. Some children have a ball and are playing soccer. The Brazilians are soon playing with the kids.

Masaye has spread out a mat to sit; some nod off to nap.

12 noon

The concession booths begin to open, stalls selling food and soccer paraphernalia. Other Brazilians gather in bunches, their carousing and jocular repartee evident. They sport the soccer shirts of their home teams, dozens of local affiliations. A Japanese man with missing teeth appears with a bag full of J League soccer shirts which he proudly displays one by one, his collection, his local affiliations. A meeting of minds is quickly understood; soon he is trying to learn Brazilian songs and yelling Brazilian slogans.

Meanwhile a group of Japanese women has already joined the festivities, gamely trying to learn the Danca da Garrafa. It's a lewd dance, its raunchy movements swaying and pumping over a strategically placed Coke bottle. The Brazilian men demonstrate a few steps. The Japanese women follow along in good humor. Things are getting heated up.

1 PM

About this time, large booster groups are being ushered into a second inner courtyard beyond the gates. These special fans are in lines, getting their special booster tickets. One of the Delica crew slips into this line, pretends to be part of the group, and scores a ticket. These tickets are encased lovingly in plastic covers with special shoelaces that allow you to wear the ticket like a necklace. Moreover, special stamps are glued to the covers indicating the booster status of the bearer. 1 ticket down; 2 to go.

Now the rest of the booster group invades the scene with large flags, and 3 of the crew find themselves swept through the gates into the stadium. They pull away from the crowd and gain access to the inside of the stadium itself. Sneaking in and out of bathrooms, wending their way to the top of the stadium, hiding in the stands, they communicate all the while between themselves and their friends outside the stadium with cellular phones. "We are in the bathroom on the north side." "We are now at the top of stands above the reserved section." "There's a security guard at the south door. Cuidado!" It's Mission Impossible.

2 PM

By this time, the security guards have caught the 3 crew members and kicked them out, but not without causing some commotion between the guards themselves, some who are reprimanded by superiors for allowing this situation to have occurred. However, the young man with the special booster ticket and stamps is allowed to stay.

Cellular phone calls reach out to Brazilians on the road approaching Osaka. Someone has scored some tickets for this group; they are on their way. But they get into an accident. No one is hurt, but the car looks totaled. The group abandons the car, rents another car, and arrives at the stadium. No one is going to miss this game.

3 PM

Masaye overhears 3 Japanese girls talking about friends who haven't arrived. They have 2 extra tickets. The 3 Japanese girls are quickly taken in by the Delica crew. Suddenly they are part of a Brazilian thing. The joviality of the young men, their easy banter and friendly joshing surround the girls like a tropical beach. For one day, they are in Brazil. There is nothing in the world, short of being in Brazil, that can match this. The girls agree to sell their extra tickets at price. That's it. The 2 final tickets. 7 Brazilians. 7 tickets.

5 PM

Things are intensifying at the front. A samba group is drumming it up. Brazilians can't be without their rhythms. The noisy ruckus and hilarity are infectious. The sensation of it swells with expectation.

The crew member with the special booster ticket with the stamps gets in early with the designated fan club. He moves in quickly and stakes out 15 choice seats at the very front of general admission. There are places for all his old and new friends, including the 3 Japanese girls. Folks back in those lines packing up their sleeping bags never had a chance.

Nike is passing out the Nike fans, the Nike stickers, the Nike face tattoos. No doubt there are Nike hats, Nike shirts, Nike buttons. This is a Nike World Event. The crew gets in line to get the freebees. They get some, pass them out, get in line again, get some more.

Ronaldo and Jon move to their reserved seats, but the hoopla is definitely back in general admissions with the Brazilian samba band and the Delica crew and their trickster ways.

6 PM

There is a capoeira and samba show before the game starts as well as a taiko show.

The game happens. It's 1 to 0, Brazil-Japan, after the half. During the first half, a Brazilian is seen running into the field to shake hands with the players on the team. It's all on national TV. The man is ushered off the field and kicked out.

At half-time, Ronaldo and Jon rejoin the partying crew in general admissions. The 3 Japanese girls are trying to learn the Danca da Garrafa.

Second half. 3 to 0, Brazil. Neither Ronaldo nor Jon will later remember who made the goals. The steam of Brazilian revelry that filled the very air gradually seeps away. The rhythms tire. The carnival reveals its tristeza. That Brazil wins the game is a given. It wasn't the game after all.


Leaving the stadium, the Brazilian who was seen running on to the field is met by his friends. He shrugs off having missed the second half of the game. He had run onto the field to be on television. He was certain that his family in Brazil must have seen him on international TV. For the moment, he is exuberant with his success. At midnight, he will turn back into a dekasegi.

The 3 Japanese girls who have attached themselves to the Delica crew hang on to their last moments with Brazil. One girl bursts into tears as they take leave.

The crew piles into the Delica, pulls out of Osaka, continuing and taunting banter filling the van. Hey Jon, you made that girl cry. What did you have to do that for? Then everything settles into the light snoring of sleeping men. 3 hours back again to Nagoya.

1 am

Back at the Circle K. I'm up writing as usual. The guys fill our now empty rented place with their still high energy and wild sense of excess, an excess that has little to do with the game they have struggled for the past 24 hours so valiantly with others to see. My questions: How was the game? What was the score? Who made a goal? All irrelevant.

7 Brazilians went 24 hours and 250 kilometers with only the hope of seeing a soccer game sold out months in advance. What could they lose but a chance to test their ingenuity, their infallible charm, their cunning, their facility with play? This was the game at hand. At midnight -- the Delica churning its engine across the highway, they would have stirred in their old roles; peons they would call themselves, dekasegi. No matter. At one o'clock, a wild sense of excess, the trickster's success, momentary but marvelous havoc, filled our house one last time in Seto, Japan.



her another essay: Purely Japanese

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