How Japanese Immigrants in the Amazon Created a New Cuisine

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How Japanese Immigrants in the Amazon Created a New Cuisine - Gastro Obscura

In the first half of the 20th century, tens of thousands of Japanese people sought opportunity abroad. Many ended up putting down roots in a tropical new home, and now, Brazil sports the largest Japanese population outside of Japan. By many estimates, the number of Brazilian citizens with Japanese ancestry currently clocks in at more than 1.5 million.

The highest concentration of nikkei, or people of Japanese ancestry, is in São Paulo. Many people of Japanese descent also live in Brazil’s south and southeast, where their forefathers came to work on coffee plantations more than a century ago. But a smaller number of Japanese immigrants also landed in Brazil’s north, settling in the state of Amazonas after the local government offered free land to those willing to farm it, starting in the 1930s. Surrounded by the Amazon rainforest and amidst temperatures that could reach highs of 95°F, Japanese immigrants needed to adapt to radically different surroundings. Part of that meant a new cuisine, featuring everything from bean sushi to sashimi made with native fish.
 
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