viernes, 2 de septiembre de 2016

Cultural Celebration, Historical Memory, and Claim to Place in Júlio Miyazawa’s Yawara! A Travessia Nihondin-Brasil and Uma Rosa para Yumi

In Imagining Asian in the Americas. Ed. Zelideth Maria Rivas and Debbie Lee-DiStefano. New Brunswick, New Jersey and London: Rutgers University Press, 2016. 158-83. Print                                   

Ignacio López-Calvo

University of California, Merced

For a copy of the published review, click here

I am aware that in the 1930s, before the War, 
we were Japanese born in Peru. I believe I’m 
lucky to belong to the generation of Japanese 
born in Peru, and then to have become part of 
that, of Peruvian children of Japanese. 
(Japanese Peruvian José Yoshida Yoshida [1935-])

In 2006, the Nisei (second generation) author Júlio Miyazawa (1948-) published, thanks to the economic support of some dekasegi (Japanese-Brazilian temporary workers in Japan) friends, his first novel, Yawara! A Travessia Nihondin-Brasil (Yawara! Crossing Nihondin-Brazil). His declared intention was to pay homage to the centenary of the inception of Japanese immigration to Brazil, which would be commemorated two years later. However, most of the novel, which won, along with two other works, the 2009 Prêmio Literário Nikkei (Nikkei Literary Award), was written between 1978 and 1980. The history of the Nikkei community in Brazil explored in Yawara and in his second novel, Uma Rosa para Yumi (A Rose for Yumi, 2013), is precisely the metaphorical “Travessia” mentioned in the subtitle of his first novel. This crossing represents a change of mentality and identification, a psychological diversity within the Japanese Brazilian community with different outcomes (not always chronological but) distinct stages: 1) from an initial, pre-World War II period when characters still see themselves as loyal subjects of the Japanese empire and identify either as Japanese immigrants or as Japanese born in Brazil; 2) through a period of identitarian uncertainty for some characters that transverses both the pre- and post-war periods; 3) to the post-war period, in which some characters progressively shift their national affiliation and become patriotic and proud Brazilians. 
I consider Miyazawa’s Yawara! one of the most sophisticated Portuguese-language fictional explorations of identitarian conflicts within the Japanese Brazilian community, which also happen to be a central issue in Nikkei discourse. As the anthropologist Takeyuki Tsuda explains, 
Identity refers to a conscious awareness of who one is in the world based on association with certain sociocultural characteristics or membership in social groups. The individual’s identity consists of two components: the self and the social identity. The self (or self-identity) is the aspect of identity that is experienced and developed internally through the individual’s own subjective perceptions and experience of the social environment. However, an identity is also externally defined by others in accordance with standardized cultural norms and social roles, which can be called the individual’s social identity. (9-10)
Yawara! re-creates this traumatic identitarian tour de force between Japanese and Nikkei characters’ internal self-perceptions and external social influences, coming from both majority Brazilian population and the Nikkei community. I argue that the author’s choice of topic—in particular, the passages dealing with Mário Japa’s multiple identities—is related to his intention to validate and vindicate symbolically the hard-fought Brazilianness of the Nikkei community. Ultimately, the author presents this psychological journey as a celebration of his ethnic heritage and, more importantly, of his community’s contributions to the betterment of Brazil. 
In my view, Júlio Miyazawa’s Yawara! A Travessia Nihondin-Brasil and Uma Rosa para Yumi are emblematic works in the Portuguese-language Nikkei literary and cultural corpus, as they explore, mostly from the perspective of Japanese Brazilian self-definition and self-representation, why so many Japanese immigrants decided to emigrate and eventually settle in such a far away country that, at the time, was deeply committed to a process of whitening the population. Both works draw the sociocultural progress of the Japanese immigrants and their descendants throughout the decades, transforming their public image from a perceived inexpensive and docile labor to a so-called “model minority” and even a key part of Brazilian national identity. Like other works in the collective discourse of the Nikkei community—composed of all genres of literature, film and documentaries, Miyazawa’s writing attempts to celebrate cultural difference, all the while defending the Nikkei community’s right to belong within the Brazilian imaginary and national projects and negotiating a common Brazilian identity. This cultural production, therefore, is reflective of Nikkei public strategies to negotiate their own authentic Brazilianness throughout the decades, which are concomitantly indicative of this community’s awareness of perceived notions of the Brazilian national essence, regardless of its mythical or constructed origins. In the process, as will be seen, Nikkei discourse resorts to ethnic assumptions that are equally mythical in nature: in some cases, in the community’s goal to narrate conflict and trauma, historical amnesia (trying to erase the dark chapters of anti-Japanese hysteria in Brazil, for example, or considering the Shindo Renmei episode a taboo) has been as useful as historical memory. After all, as Homi Bhabha reminds us "Being obliged to forget becomes the basis for remembering the nation, peopling it anew, imagining the possibility of other contending and liberating forms of cultural identification" (161). In the same way as negative ethnic stereotypes dealing with the “Yellow Peril” myth were a considerable obstacle to the integration of the Nikkei community, at times positive stereotypes dealing with the perceived fixed nature of racial typology have been embraced in a sort of strategic essentialism that may empower the community. This stance is certainly noticeable in Miyazawa’s works.
Both novels explore how Brazil changed Japanese immigrants and their descendants, from an initial collective feeling of “unhomeliness,” that is, of being geographically and culturally displaced in a strange and hostile land, or being caught in an undefined cultural identity between the ancestral culture of one’s parents and the local culture, or sometimes identifying fully with their native Brazilian culture. This identitarian diversity, however, should not be read as an assimilationist discourse, since the vindication of cultural difference is one of its leitmotifs and different Nikkei characters in these works identify Japanese, Japanese Brazilian, or Brazilian. At the same time, Miyazawa echoes how Japanese immigration (along with the immigration of other disenfranchised ethnic groups that could not easily be considered either black or white) ultimately changed Brazil and challenged elite articulations of Brazilian national identity. In many respects, through this strategic cultural discourse, the Nikkei community presents itself as an economically beneficial component of the Brazilian national body, as a path to modernity, and as a model to imitate by the rest of Brazil. As Lesser argues, proof of the success of their strategies and negotiations is that “By the mid-twentieth century, elite paradigms about who was and was not an acceptable Brazilian changed so markedly that many Europeans were no longer in the ‘white’ category while some Asians and Middle Easterners were” (“Ehtnic Myths” 68).
Indeed, the fictional Japanese immigrants’ strategies for survival and community formation, their progressive integration into mainstream society, and their claim to place all form part of a collective narrative that affects much of Japanese-Brazilian cultural production. Readers can often find the tension created between Nikkei writers and filmmakers’ celebration of cultural difference and the concomitant claim to Brazilianness and national belonging. However, I argue that they are intimately related: the open celebration of the Nikkei community’s achievements in different fieldd—and particularly of the involvement of its leftist youth in national politics during the 1970s—in Yawara! and Uma rosa para Yumi responds to a will to power, and more specifically, to the author’s vindication of the true Brazilianness of his ethnic group. 

Between Dichotomies: Cultural Isolation/Adaptation and Oppression/ Resistance
Since Yawara! is not a widely read novel, I will provide, in the next few pages, a summary of its plot, concentrating on the key issues of cultural isolation and adaptation as well as oppression and resistance. Miyazawa’s exploration of the “crossing” in the subtitle of the novel begins with the inception of the immigration process, focusing, from a sentimental—at times bordering on the melodramatic—perspective, on the reasons for emigration, the immigrants’ nostalgia for Japan, and the identitarian uncertainties they tried to overcome. Yawara! addresses the different steps of the immigration process, including the “pull” and “push” factors. It echoes, for instance, how the Japanese government and the Emperor encouraged emigration as a way to alleviate the social tensions produced by an acute economic crisis and how, out of patriotism, many Japanese peasants obeyed the Emperor’s wishes; others naïvely believed the official declaration assuring prospective emigrants that it would not take long for them to become wealthy in Brazil, before returning to Japan triumphantly in a few years. Yet, as the novel reflects, the first wave of immigrants soon realized that living and working conditions in the adoptive country would be much harsher than advertised. Increasingly feeling deceived, their disappointment was further fueled by the racism they have to withstand, particularly during World War II (Brazil joined the allied forces in August of 1942).
The structure of Yawara! intertwines three different stories that are linked by kinship and friendship. The novel re-creates the lives of three Japanese immigrant families who arrived in Brazil in 1936 with the help of the Associação Nipônica no Brasil (Japanese Association of Brazil). In December of 1945, after the end of World War II, they founded a small village in the region of Atibaia, in the state of São Paulo. Although these characters are fictional, the author claims to have found inspiration in people he met in the region of Jabaquara; the action, however, takes place in real Brazilian locations and includes historical facts. The characters from the original community of Atibaia and their descendants--a synecdoche of the Nikkei community in Brazil--choose very different paths, ranging from cultural isolation within the Japanese immigrant community to full cultural integration into mainstream Brazilian society. For instance, Kenhiti and his wife Akemi, one of the three original Japanese families who arrived in 1936, never manage to adapt to the host country. In fact, Kenhiti, a humble peasant from Hiroshima’s countryside and a judo expert, worries more about the preservation of Japanese culture than about learning the customs of Brazilian society. Making things even harder, he is unjustly imprisoned for two years after defending his nephew Goro from the physical attack of the Brazilian landowner’s son. After being freed, the psychological trauma has been so severe that Kenhiti ends up committing suicide, along with his wife Akemi:
The brightness of the sun bothered the eyes of Kenhiti, who, in his feverish imagination, believed he was contemplating Japanese land. For this reason, he looked at it scared and full of happiness, and screamed:
Fuji-San! Mount Fuji… Fuji-San! Beloved fatherland!” 
. . . Screaming and running through a seemingly shorter path yet leading directly to the cliff, Kenhiti extended his hand to Akemi, who grabbed it. That way, united by the same idea, both jumped to eternity!
The delusional vision of the iconic Mount Fuji—one of the main symbols of the Japanese nation—in the Brazilian countryside suggests their inability to grasp the new reality in a strange culture and a foreign land. After spending a year depressed because they cannot have children, Akemi finally gets pregnant but the baby eventually dies. Then, Kenhiti finds out that his relatives died when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The novel implies that Kenhiti’s failure to adapt to the new culture, customs, and language, added to the death of his relatives, contributed his eventual demise.
The feeling of saudade (roughly meaning longing, nostalgia, homesickness) is omnipresent in this novel as well as in much of Japanese Brazilian literature and film. At the onset of the narrative, the Issei Koiti Furukawa, head of another of the first three Japanese families that arrived aboard the Argentina Maru in 1936, is described nostalgically singing sad Okinawan songs, waiting for letters from his relatives in Japan, and writing a book he plans to publish in Japan. Yet, in contrast with his friend Kenhiti, who is always longing to return to Japan, Koiti’s early ability to integrate himself into the new environment saves him from a similar outcome. Koiti easily meets and befriends Brazilian people during his trips to baseball championships and even participates in carnival parades, seemingly the ultimate proof of his integration into Brazilian culture. At one point, thanks to his diplomatic and emotional management skills, Koiti manages to postpone Kenhiti’s arrest by reminding a Brazilian politician who had earlier sought Japanese votes that he once thanked him with a flower bouquet for his wife. Another Issei character that makes a successful attempt at adapting to Brazilian society and culture is Goro, the older son of Toshiro and Noriko (the third Japanese couple of the small group of Issei that founded the small village in Atibaia). His extroverted personality and natural ability to speak Portuguese allow him to befriend his Brazilian neighbors and classmates. Goro finds motivation to learn the language quickly in his infatuation with his Brazilian teacher, Antônia, as well as in his determination to avoid his classmates’ mockery. Yawara! also reflects how immigrant children had an easier path to cultural adaptation and how later, Nisei and Sansei (including mestizos) born after 1940 did not speak Japanese or observe Japanese customs, which created a significant cultural gap with their elders. Another source of discrepancies, as seen in the novel, is the opposition of Japanese parents to mixed marriages. 
Yawara! provides numerous examples of the oppression that the Japanese had to withstand, particularly during the Second World War. For instance, Goro and his younger brother Kootaro have to interrupt their studies as a result of the increased discrimination against the Japanese community during this period; later, Kootaro is beaten by local boys for calling his horse Burajiru (“Brazil” pronounced with a Japanese accent). The novel reminds us that during the ensuing years, Japanese immigrants would be considered internal enemies: their actions were seen with suspicion, they were forbidden to speak Japanese in public, and Japanese social gatherings were strictly forbidden. More importantly, the omniscient narrator explains that Japanese immigrants were concerned with “the continued incarceration of members of the Japanese community—in many cases, without formal accusations, without right to legal defense, and without knowing the time of confinement.” 
Along with these scenes of oppression, Yawara! re-creates Japanese resistance during the Second World War. Thus, when the local oligarch orders Koiti’s arrest for purchasing a hunting rifle, Sensei (teacher), a cultured pioneer who helps new arrivals, uses his influence to prevent his imprisonment. Likewise, as a reaction to the oligarch’s appropriation of Japanese-owned land and to the constant harassment carried out by his son, the community decides to move to the state of Paraná, where they will eventually find success growing and commercializing cotton. Miyazawa also presents solidarity as another form of resistance when the Japanese community offers emotional support and leaves money for the imprisoned Kenhiti, whose act of self-defense (he broke the landowner’s son’s arm using his judo skills) also suggests that the Japanese community in Brazil did not withstand oppression passively. Curiously, although the title, Yawara!, makes reference to a 1964 song about struggling and hope, sung by the cultural icon Misora Hibari, it can also refer to judo or jujutsu. In fact, the book cover includes the kanji for “Yawara,” , which is also a Japanese weapon used in various martial arts. The narrator also mentions that, for some time, the Japanese gained a reputation for being unable to adapt to work in coffee plantations, which reflects their refusal to comply with the landowners’ exploitative schemes. 
In spite of all these cases of discrimination and oppression, Yawara! does not fall into manichaean conclusions. In fact, it includes scenes of inter-ethnic solidarity, as several Afro-Brazilian characters help the Japanese or Nikkei. Thus, an Afro-Brazilian neighbor named Zefa (Josefa) feeds Akemi (Kenhiti’s wife) when she is weak, breastfeeds her baby upon noticing his undernourishment, and invites the Japanese couple for dinner at her house on Christmas Eve. Years later, in 1975, another Afro-Brazilian, Alberto, helps Mariano Goro Harikawa (Akemi and Kenhiti’s offspring) overcome his psychological imbalance and later weeps upon hearing Mariano’s sad life story. They eventually become close friends: “I would only allow Alberto to call me ‘Japa’ when no one was around. He, a black guy of all people, would come up with such cheap racism.” These alliances between Japanese immigrants and Afro-Brazilians, two marginalized groups at the time, are not uncommon in Japanese-Brazilian literature. In some cases, these Afro-Brazilian characters come close to Hollywood cinema’ stock character of the selfless “magical negro,” a black person with a special insight or power who suddenly comes to the aid of the white protagonist, even at the risk of sacrificing his or her life. 
Some white characters also help the Japanese immigrants. For instance, Tonho, the old warden, teaches Portuguese to Kenhiti and even sets him free for one day on the Christmas Eve of 1946. But the Japanese community’s most faithful ally during the early years is the schoolteacher Antônia, who protests: “The war is not the colonists’ fault and they have done nothing to deserve hate.” Later, her marriage to Goro becomes a national allegory for peaceful miscegenation and transculturation between the local population and Japanese immigrants. Their marriage symbolizes the birth of a new Brazil, where the Japanese immigrant community has finally found a home. Antônia has overcome her father’s anti-Japanese prejudice to embody her generation’s greater tolerance toward these immigrants and their descendants. Antônia and Goro’s relationship is, on the other hand, a window to a different reality: anti-Brazilian and anti-black racism among Japanese immigrants. Thus, Goro prudishly tells Antônia, “My mother said that a wedding between a Japanese man and a Brazilian woman is not right.” Likewise, when Zefa takes Akemi’s undernourished baby and breastfeeds her, the Japanese immigrant is first in shock and then, despite being grateful, hides it from her husband Kenhiti: “She feared being despised by her husband, even more if he knew that Goro was being breastfed by a black woman.”
Through a prolepsis that takes us to the São Paulo of the 1970s, Part II of Yawara! reads almost like a different novel. It focuses on the descendants of Japanese immigrants and, particularly, on Kenhiti and Akemi’s son, the Nisei Mariano Goro, who, suffering from dissociative identity disorder, ends up becoming a notorious member of an armed group that is fighting against the dictatorship. The sociocultural and psychological dilemmas caused by both Mariano Goro’s own identitarian confusion and mainstream society’s discrimination have dire consequences for him. With the help of a psychiatrist, he realizes at one point that he suffers from dissociative identity disorder and that he is actually the political fugitive known as Mário Japa. This mental disorder has led him to adopt two distinct identities or personalities that, at different times, take control over his behavior. At least once a month, Mariano Goro/Mário Japa suffers from attacks during which he speaks to an alter ego in his mind, calling him Caro Mano (Dear Brother). Then, he tries to relieve his anxiety by running until he feels exhausted. In one of these “dialogues,” Mariano Goro admits to his alter ego that learning about the existence of Nisei revolutionaries made him question his own role in society. He also confesses that the first time he saw a “Wanted” sign with his own photograph in it, he pretended not to see it, just like other members of his community, who felt embarrassed by the participation of Nissei in the armed struggle. Therefore, through a sort of double vision, he is able to see himself through the eyes of more conservative members of his ethnic community. Mariano’s first reaction was to think: “Damn! Even the Japanese are robbing banks!” This use of the word “even” also suggests a case of double consciousness in which a Nikkei man sees his own ethnic group, through the eyes of majority Brazilians, at the border of the Brazilian nation or as a human national border. Yet he later adds that integration was bound to happen because by the 1970s, many Nikkei had become more involved in Brazilian mainstream society. Mariano Goro himself is an example of this process, as he became politicized almost by accident: he reluctantly won a union election and then became a sort of hero among his co-workers. Noticing that this new facet of his life helped him overcome his personal crisis, he soon began to enjoy union struggles. 
Mariano Goro, who narrates Part II, explains that the bicultural Nisei’s efforts at integration to mainstream society picked during the 1960s and 70s: “Many of us wanted to look Brazilian and act Brazilian in the way we were, ate, and dressed.” He also recalls how his adopted father scolded him during a match between boxers from Japan and Brazil for cheering for the latter. Along these lines, after seeing his innocent son imitate his classmates’ mockery of slanted eyes, Mariano Goro feels compelled to educate him about racial tensions in Brazil: “For Brazilian children, we are different. For us, they are different. Nothing else. You don’t need to do that. You don’t need to care about that. We belong to another race. You were born here. You country is here.” As seen, although, in real life, there were often other issues involved in these clashes, including immigrant and socioeconomic status, only ethnic differences are mentioned in these passages.
Closing the circle, Part III, whose protagonist is the sixty-six-year-old Koiti Furukawa, one of the co-founders of the original Japanese community in Atibaia, returns to the homesickness and nostalgia that characterized the first chapters: he bemoans the suicide of his friend Kenhiti and cries upon hearing a little girl dressed in a kimono thank him in Japanese: “Thank you, grandfather.” Koiti loses control of his emotions in public again, thus going against the emotional self-control and restraint that is one of the traditional teachings of Japanese culture. The trauma of the journey has therefore not been overcome: even in the case of the well adapted Koiti, uprootedness takes its toll.

Identitarian Formations and Nikkei Pride
In contrast with the rural atmosphere and the nostalgic, melodramatic tone of numerous passages in Part I, which narrates the Japanese immigrants’ worldview as imagined by Miyazawa, in the rest of Yawara! the tone radically changes in order to re-create a shift to what the implicit author sees as a new, Brazilian mentality. With this goal in mind, Miyazawa portrays fully integrated, urban Nikkei characters that have become involved in local politics and use colloquial, sometimes coarse language: “The bitch is fooling everybody,” states Mariano Goro, referring to a woman he finds screaming in the street. Therefore, as is common in literature by and about Asians in Latin America, while the original Asian worldview tends to be romanticized and exoticized through a refined atmosphere enriched by sophisticated poetry, music and amorous feelings, the Latin American criollo worldview is conceived of in opposite terms: unrefined, course, and sexually crude.
In the second part of the novel, Mariano Goro’s identitarian problems and difficult integration into mainstream Brazilian society synecdochically embody the trials and tribulations of his ethnic community. The uncertainty about whether he is Japanese, Brazilian or something else consumes him. As stated, this may be another source of meaning for the word “travessia” (journey) in the novel’s subtitle. It may allude not only to the Japanese community’s spatial travel from Japan to Brazil (and, for many descendants, “back” to Japan), but also to the Japanese community’s temporal journey from Issei, to Nisei, Sansei, Yonsei, Gosei (first, second, third, fourth, fifth generation), which involves a psychological travel from holding a Japanese identity to a number of different outcomes, including a Japanese Brazilian identity, an unhyphenated Brazilian identity in which the cultural or sentimental links to the ancestral land have been more or less erased, or holding multiple identities unproblematically. Along with this identitarian diversity, the novel also re-creates the progressive shifts in national allegiance within several generations of these families, as well as the hostile path to full Brazilian citizenship. 
In texts that re-create Japanese immigration to Latin America, the “colonists” (as the first immigrants were called at the time) often make it clear that their goal is to earn enough money to return to their homeland as soon as possible and start a new life. Life goals change, however, among their descendants. Thus, in Yawara!, Mariano Goro and other Nisei characters that grow up in Brazil no longer dream about “returning” to Japan once they have become wealthy; in fact, they have never visited their ancestral fatherland. Yet their phenotype, a constant source of mockery and insults coming from majority Brazilians, continues to be a seemingly insurmountable obstacle in their dream of feeling like they truly belong in Brazil. Thus, in one of the central episodes in Yawara!, Mariano Goro/Mário Japa develops two conflicting selves as a result of the discrepancies between his self-identity (the cultural categories the character uses to define himself) and a competing social identity (the cultural categories that society imposes on him). Ultimately, the novel implies that the protagonist’s fragmented experience of identity and resulting pathological dissociate disorder (a metaphor for the in-between, hybrid life of the Japanese community in Brazil) are an outcome of the trauma and stress suffered throughout a life marked by discrimination and racist prejudice. For Nikkei like Mariano Goro, it is frustrating to be treated as foreigners or mocked because of their phenotype in their own country. This exclusion from the Brazilian body politic becomes apparent during his arrest, when Mariano Goro is convinced that the police have confused him with someone else. Although the cultural construct of his self-identity tells him that he is a Brazilian because of the place where he was born, the policemen impose a competing societal cultural construct by repeatedly asking him: “‘What are you doing here in Brazil, Jap? Do you have to get involved in the things of the country? Couldn’t you stay quietly in your country?’” These traumatic situations throughout his life are the sources of the conflict between what Mariano Goro experiences internally and what is externally defined by society. 
In Yawara!, therefore, identitarian conflicts and existential dilemmas arise when Nikkei characters believe that they have to choose between Japanese ethnicity and Brazilian nationality. Mariano Goro, perhaps the author’s alter ego, embodies this dilemma to the point of suffering from dissociative identity disorder. Although he feels attracted to the richer, multiethnic life surrounding him and would love to “act Brazilian,” he claims that his Japanese ethnic roots will not allow it. Paradoxically, one the main sources of the protagonist’s existential angst and debilitated mental health is his inability to understand the reason behind the existence of Nisei guerrillas, as he feels that Nisei people are stateless: “we have a race but we don’t have a fatherland. That one, Japan, was not our homeland. This one, Brazil, we rejected it.” Specifically, he cannot fathom how revolutionary Nisei youths have been able to overcome their identitarian uncertainties to the point of becoming involved in the revolutionary struggle against the dictatorial government, “in spite of their skin and their neatly Oriental features.” He also resents Japan for its aggressive colonialism, consumerism, loss of traditions, and for abandoning the Nikkei in Brazil during and after World War II. To the reader’s surprise, it is later revealed that not only did Mariano Goro participate in the Revolution of 1964, but he is actually the notorious Mário Japa (Mário “The Jap”), a member of one of the subversive groups that are still fighting the military dictatorship. He eventually solves the quandary by realizing that the question of whether he is Brazilian or Japanese is flawed: 
if many Nisei born in Brazil more or less during those two decades, who had gone through that false dilemma, had understood what was going on, they would have had a different approach to life and people. It was a false dilemma because in order to be Japanese, it was not necessary to renounce one’s fatherland; to be Brazilian, it was not necessary to renounce one’s race. Each person’s experiences, his social and economic circumstances, were reflected in different ways in personality changes caused by that false dilemma.
This statement summarizes the main thrust in Miyazawa’s two novels: that there is no need to reject one’s ethnocultural heritage because there are different ways of being Brazilian.
Although Yawara! includes the chapter of Shindo Renmei’s terrorism and the minor negative episode of the fights between Nikkei and Korean youth (who had not forgotten the horrors of World War II by the time they began to move to Brazil in the late 1960s), Miyazawa does not shy away from expressing his ethnic pride in several passages. In the first chapters, for instance, we are told that the Brazilian landowner was jealous of the productivity of the lands he rented to Japanese settlers. The novel also celebrates the fact that by the 1950s, some Japanese immigrants already owned large estates and that some years later, members of the Nikkei community became prominent in Brazilian politics. This economic and political success, we are reminded, would not have been possible without the pioneers’ efforts. Another significant milestone is the appearance of the first Japanese homeless people, who are a source of shame for the community (one of them, however, is known for his mastery of mathematics). This fact also suggests an increased diversity in socioeconomic status within the Japanese Brazilian community.
But beyond celebrating Nikkei achievements, the novel also suggests a certain pan-Asian pride, perhaps strategically reifying positive stereotypes and the “model minority” myth, as it is called in the United States. The narrator points out, for instance, that besides having a reputation for being honest and serious workers, Nikkei students had the best grades and were determined to keep that reputation, even though it could also be a stigma: “After all, the Japanese and the other Orientals were the ‘braniacs.’ They had to keep the fame of the race.” Close behind students of Japanese and Chinese descent, Koreans are also said to be among the best students. The same pan-Asian awareness is also evident in the epigraph taken from a Chinese legend that opens the novel and is later quoted in the plot. 
Mariano Goro, however, does not share this widespread ethnic pride, plausibly questioning the “model minority” myth: “I did not feel the same as those who obtained the first positions in the SATs, singing their own praises for being Oriental, Japanese. Thereafter, there was an identity crisis, which, I imagine, many offspring of Japanese born between the 1940s and 1969s also suffered.” Although this disidentification with pan-Asian pride could be interpreted as a reflection of his identitarian uncertainties, it is probably a sign of his deeper integration into mainstream Brazilian society. It also proves that the character (an alter ego of his author) is critical of both positive and negative stereotypes about his ethnic group.
Overall, Miyazawa traces the psychological evolution of his characters as well as the diversity of their experiences and identities, leading some to join samba parades during carnival while others succumb to melancholia and identitarian uncertainties. In Koiti’s case, it is clear that, a century after the inception of Japanese immigration to Brazil, the sojourner mentality has not disappeared. Even in the cases of Nisei or immigrant characters that learn Portuguese and adapt to the new Brazilian customs, the limits of national belonging are exposed once their subconscious betrays them with identitarian dilemmas or majority Brazilians exclude them from the national discourse.

From Survival to Social Commitment
Although the narrator mentions that some characters in Yawara! are from the Ryukyu Islands (the official name for Okinawa), the intersectionality and double oppression resulting from belonging to an ethnic (or subethnic) group that was, at the time, marginalized in both Japan and Brazil, is never addressed. The novel denounces, instead, the racism and marginalization that Japanese immigrants had to withstand in rural areas of the state of São Paulo mostly before and during the Second World War, but also, at a lower intensity, during the post-war period. On the other hand, it reflects the Nikkei community’s reverse racism against Brazilians and other immigrants they considered gaijin (outsider, foreigner, non-Japanese). 
Yawara! also underscores the sociopolitical and cultural heterogeneity of the Nikkei community. The author points out, for example, the differences between Okinawan and Naichi (“mainland” Japanese) cultural traditions. He describes Japanese customs (particularly those from Okinawa) that immigrants brought to Brazil, including their food, clothing, religious beliefs, hierarchical societal structure, and love for martial arts such as judo and kendo, or sports such as baseball. The novel includes terms in the Japanese and Okinawan languages, adding their translation to Portuguese in either footnotes or the text itself. Interestingly, toward the end of the novel the author begins to leave Japanese and Okinawan words untranslated, as if they had at last lost their subordinated status in relation to the Portuguese language. This choice gives the impression that these untranslated terms open the door to the presentation of an also untranslated culture for the reader, challenging her to accept it as is.
Miyazawa highlights the different paths taken by immigrants. This is particularly evident in the chapters that address the brief history of the Shindo Renmei (meaning League of the Subjects’ Path), a terrorist organization composed of Japanese immigrants mostly from the state of São Paulo who, during the second half of the 1940s, refused to believe that World War II had ended and that Japan had surrendered: “a conflict that arose among the Japanese themselves: the dispute between the kachigumi (winning faction) and the makegumi. He had heard about the Shindo Renmei, whose followers threatened and attacked their countrymen who admitted Japan’s defeat, thus causing thousands of incarcerations in the State of São Paulo.” Kachigumi were members of the Japanese community who believed that Japan had been victorious in World War II and makegumi, those who believed their country had surrendered. From 1946 to early 1947, Shindo Renmei’s assassins, popularly known as tokkotai (a synonym for kamikaze), killed with firearms or katanas (traditional Japanese swords) at least twenty-three Japanese Brazilians and wounded 147 others who believed the news about Japan’s defeat. The terrorists, who considered their victims “corações sujos” (dirty hearts) and referred to them as Makegumi or “defeatists,” accused them of betraying the Japanese emperor. Highlighting a socioeconomic schism within the community, the “defeatists” were usually the most informed, wealthy, and adapted to mainstream Brazilian culture. Indeed, according to Jhony Arai and Cesar Hirasaki, “Most Japanese not only believed that Japan had been victorious, but also paid dues to the sect. There were more than 120,000 sympathizers who paid monthly fees and nearly 20,000 associates in sixty branches scattered throughout São Paulo.” Accordingly, a footnote in the novel explains that 80 percent of the Japanese community sided with the Kachigumi or “victorists” of the Shindo Renmei. Yet among the members of the original community in Yawara! only the jichan (grandfather) Ryutaro seems to support them openly. By contrast, Kenhiti, Goro, and Koiti (who also denies the Japanese emperor’s divine nature), believe that Japan has been defeated. The rest of the community simply avoids the topic. 
As stated, in Yawara! the ultimate proof of Nikkei youth’s Brazilianness is the active engagement of some of them in national politics and in revolutionary groups that fought against the dictatorial government that reached power after a coup d’état in 1964. Yet, according to Lesser, their strategy backfired as it unexpectedly reinforced the Nikkei’s minority status: “Ethnic militancy was supposed to lead to Brazilianness. Ironically, it did the opposite” (xxx). Moreover, at the time most members of the Nikkei community, convinced that it was wiser to continue keeping a low profile, rejected these revolutionary activities. As depicted in the novel, the existence of Nisei revolutionaries became an embarrassment for the community and a taboo that was avoided in conversations. Yet Miyazawa Mário proudly presents Mário Japa as a Japanese Brazilian hero. 
His protagonist is based on a real-life person. In his study A Discontented Diaspora (2007), Lesser summarized the biography of the Nisei Mário Japa (1948-), whose given name was Shizuo Osawa (it has also been spelled Chizuo Osava). Now a journalist in Rio de Janeiro, Osawa was a former member of the Vanguardia Popular Revolucionária (Revolutionary Popular Avant-Garde; VPR), the same Marxist organization in which the now president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, was a militant:
When Shizuo Osawa became Mário Japa in the late 1967 this was unknown to the state. Authorities only began to learn that Mário Japa was Shizuo Osawa on the rainy night of 27 February 1970. Having gone twenty-four sleepless hours, he decided to drive a load of weapons and revolutionary pamphlets from on hide-out to another when the person assigned to the task did not appear. Driving along the Estrada das Lágrimas (Road of Tears) in greater São Paulo, Osawa fell asleep at the wheel and crashed. In the wrecked car the police found an unconscious Japanese-Brazilian whose documents said he was Shizuo Osawa. To their surprise, they also discovered weapons and VPR propaganda in the trunk. Osawa, now awake, was taken first to the emergency room, then to the local police station and finally to DEOPS headquarters “for treatment.” (132)
After the accident, Osawa was imprisoned and tortured. For some time, the Brazilian government considered him the right-hand man of Carlos Lamarca, the leader of the VPR and a former army captain. In March 1970, Lamarca, fearing that Osawa would reveal the secret location of a guerrilla training camp, abducted Nobuo Okuchi, the Japanese Consul in São Paulo, to exchange him for Osawa, four other revolutionary prisoners, and three children. Incidentally, although not directly suggested in the novel, Lamarca’s decision to kidnap the Japanese consul—rather than the consult of a different nationality—is in itself indicative that he saw the Nikkei Osawa as a foreign, Japanese national rather than the Brazilian citizen he was, as it implies that he demanded an exchange of “Japanese” prisoners from the government.
Lesser’s study also reveals that the historical Osawa’s concerns about his ethnic group’s cultural identity were similar to those of Mariano Goro in the novel: while Osawa was working as a banker in Curitiba, he published, in the magazine Panorama, an essay titled “They Want to Be Brazilians,” where, using a psychological approach to ethnicity and identity, he insisted “that ethnic integration was not a minority ‘problem’ but a majority one” (Lesser 128). Osawa’s desire to prove his own brasilidade (Brazilianness) and that of his ethnic group, therefore, precedes his revolutionary activities. Lesser also discloses the ethnic prejudice that guided the DEOPS’s investigations: instead of creating a file for his birth name, there was only one for his code name “Mário Japa.” Likewise, Osawa’s fellow revolutionaries refused to stop calling him “The Jap,” even though this represented a serious danger for his security (Lesser 130-31). But the most racist reaction to the realization that there were Nikkei revolutionaries involved in the armed struggle against the dictatorship came from the Brazilian press: “The revelation that a Japanese-Brazilian was among those to be traded for the Japanese consul shocked the public. The Jornal da Tarde took the most aggressive approach, publishing an article headlined, PAY CLOSE ATTENTION: THE JAPANESE TERROR” (Lesser 142). It is evident, therefore, that both the fictional character and the real-life Osawa had to cope with majority Brazilians’ inability to concede full Brazilian citizenship to a Nikkei, even though he was fighting courageously for his country’s freedom. Interestingly, in an interview with Guto Silveira, Osawa admits that he took advantage of the positive stereotype of the Japanese as honest people in Brazil: “It was difficult to keep all the clandestine people hidden. It was always necessary to rent houses. And for that, it was useful to be Japanese and to have credibility. I rented many houses without even giving my name.” It seems, therefore, that while Osawa rejected the essentialization of his ethnic group and the social identity or cultural categories imposed by mainstream society, he also knew how to take advantage of positive stereotypes.
Besides Mário Japa, Miyazawa proudly mentions in Yawara! other Nisei men and women who participated in the armed struggle, a topic that is further developed in his second novel, Uma Rosa para Yumi. The author praises the self-sacrifice of these brave, young Nikkei and laments the lack of recognition they have received: “These episodes, which became part of Brazil’s recent history, ended up not being registered in the annals of the Japanese Brazilian community and the memory of the engagement of these Nisei youths and of others not mentioned here is still waiting for the acknowledgment of their own community.” Several of them, we learn in Yawara!, were tortured and killed by the military dictatorship, including Hiroaki Torigoe, Yoshitane Fujimori, and Sueli Yumiko Kanayama. Kanayama (1948-1974), a short, thin, and timid Nikkei born in the small town of Coronel Macedo, in the State of São Paulo, was a member of the Brazilian Communist Party (Partido Comunista de Brasil; PCdoB) and the Araguaia guerrilla, a revolutionary movement created in the Amazonia to mobilize local peasants, fight the military dictatorship, and impose a socialist government in the country. Kanayama’s disappearance in Araguaia in 1974 was investigated by the Truth Commission dealing with deaths and disappearances during this period. The novel points out that in real life Kanayama refused to surrender when surrounded by soldiers in the jungle and was shot over one hundred times, after injuring one of them. She was later honored with street names in Campo Grande, Rio de Janeiro, and Campinas, São Paulo. According to Lesser, there are different accounts of her death, mostly tied to her bravery and the typical connection of Nikkei ethnicity to violence, but also including one with a “quasi-mystical interpretation that Kamayana, like a European Catholic saint, remained alive even in death” (110).
Yawara!, therefore, acquires testimonial traits in these passages that highlight the Nikkei’s sacrifice for justice in Brazil and respond to the urge to reclaim the past. Perhaps its epigraph is a reference to these lesser-known heroes: “A Chinese legend says that warriors who live great emotions do not die. Climbing great mountains you will perhaps be able to see them flying softly through great valleys.” These “warriors” in the epigraph may refer to either the Nikkei guerrillas or the first trailblazing Issei to arrive to Brazil, who set the ground for the success of future generations. Tellingly, Miyazawa declared, in the website “Projeto incorporado ao Museu Histórico da Imigração Japonesa no Brasil” (Project incorporated to the Historical Museum of Japanese Immigration to Brazil), that the main motivation to write Yawara! was his desire to leave a testimony of the Japanese Brazilian community’s painful attempt at becoming fully Brazilian: “For a long time during our youth, we tried to become Brazilian, hiding our eyes behind sunglasses. But it didn’t work. They kept calling us Japanese, asking us to return to our land! How could we return to our land if our land was here, in Brazil? We suffered a lot trying to become Brazilians, we lost our origins and our personality. We claimed another one, which was difficult to justify, but possible…” From this perspective, the entire Nikkei community in Brazil could be identified—perhaps falling into a self-orientalizing cliché—with the warrior metaphor in the epigraph.

Uma Rosa para Yumi: the Recovery of Historical Memory
Miyazawa continues with the exploration of some of these same topics in Uma Rosa para Yumi, but this time with an explicit emphasis on a historical memory reconstruction—a foundational aspect of social identities--that may not be welcome by everyone in the Nikkei community. Whereas Yawara! has a wider focus on the history of Japanese immigration, Uma Rosa para Yumi emphasizes, with apparent cathartic results for the narrator, the remembrance of political violence during the military dictatorship and its current affective and traumatic consequences on the Nikkei community. Dedicated “to male and female freedom and equality fighters, especially to revolutionary Nisei,” it pays a nostalgic homage to their idealism and contribution to the political struggle against dictatorship during the 1970s by rescuing their historical legacy from oblivion and dignifying their memories. In this second novel, the author leaves aside the psychological approach of part II of Yawara!, resorting instead to real-life names and individual stories in order to memorialize and celebrate their sacrifice. For the author, this sacrifice for a more just society, which he sees as heroic, is the undeniable proof of their community’s patriotism and right to full Brazilian citizenship: some of its younger members ran the risk of being ostracized by their own ethnic community or imprisoned, tortured, and killed by governmental forces, and others gave their life altogether for their country’s freedom.

The novel, resorting again to social memory, also documents a shift of mentality in the Nikkei community: in spite of the identitarian ambivalence of some Nikkei characters, many now identify mostly as Brazilian, speak only Portuguese, and even fight heroically for their native country’s freedom, a synecdoche of the patriotism of the entire Nikkei community. Therefore, by including his memoirs of revolutionary activity, Miyazawa takes Uma Rosa para Yumi closer to the testimonial genre: truth telling and the clarification of recent Nikkei minority histories take center stage. 
In contrast with the realistic approach and mostly chronological development of the plot in Yawara!, Uma Rosa para Yumi uses numerous analepses and prolepses, as well as metaliterary techniques that often prevent the reader from suspending disbelief in the plotline. It adds, for example, the perspectives and experiences of other survivors and former participants in the revolutionary struggle, including that of the author’s alter ego, called Itizó by his family and friends in the neighborhood of Liberdade, and Ricardo by his classmates at the Universidade de São Paulo. Itizó/Ricardo, whose double name is reflective of a seemingly comfortable double identity as a Nikkei and a Brazilian man, recalls the grief that his own political involvement caused within his family. Thus, after losing part of his index finger while trying to throw a tear gas bomb back at the police, his older brother, Tadao, scolds him for all the suffering he is causing to their mother. In response, Ricardo/Itizó criticizes his brother for being alienated by a military dictatorship that is supported by selfish people like him. At one point, the argument suddenly veers from politics to race:
You are not solving anything with this political thing. In fact, that is not a problem of our race!
–What race? What race are you talking about?
. . .
–I am talking about us, the Japanese. You ought to look at our people, who live here in Brazil. No one is involved in those things. With that thing you’re doing, you’re hurting everyone, all of us. You’re a bad example for the Japanese!
–And you’re a traitor to the homeland. You don’t even know the National Anthem…
This aggressive exchange illustrates the political divisions not only within the Nikkei community but also within its families, which had been briefly addressed in Yawara! While the more conservative Tadao sees no reason for Nikkei youth to get involved in local politics, his younger brother considers his oppositional stance a patriotic duty. 
Interestingly, Lesser maintains that besides the struggle for freedom, there were additional motivations behind Nikkei participation in revolutionary activities: “Activists, in contrast, usually considered themselves to be outsiders from the formally organized ‘colony’ of community organizations, newspapers, and festivals. Militancy was not only a challenge to the dictatorship; it was a challenge to the politically and culturally conservative generation of their parents” (76). Indeed, the open challenge to his relatives is obvious in the arguments used by Ricardo/Itizó, who is convinced that Tadao’s passive demeanor is “serving the system” and feels contempt for his cousins, whose only obsession is the symbolic capital provided by material possessions. From his revolutionary perspective, Ricardo/Itizó argues that his relatives are easily manipulated by the censored political news provided by the national television network, because they are out of touch with the sociopolitical reality of Brazil. A few years later, however, Ricardo/Itizó forgives his brother Tadao after finding out that the latter was actually proud of his involvement in the political struggle. In any case, it is apparent that even though it represented a minority position within the Nikkei community, the author applauds the bravery and generosity of the young revolutionaries during those years. 
Toward the end of Uma Rosa para Yumi, the omniscient narrator, who had been referring to Ricardo/Itizó in the third person throughout the plot, suggests that he is none other that Ricardo himself. Another real-life revolutionary whose courageous effort and sacrifice is commemorated in the novel with the goal of helping the Nikkei community to come to terms with its past is Gushiken, who was a militant of Libelu, a Trotskyite organization that fought the dictatorship. The narrator also recalls his beautiful Nisei friend Suzana, who fell into a depression after realizing (erroneously) that her love for Ricardo/Itizó was unrequited; in reality, we learn, his deep involvement in the political movement at the university forced him, in November 1973, to go clandestine for tow years, which separated them forever. As the narrator recalls, “among the leftist militants, no one was anybody’s. All of them belonged to the revolutionary struggle.” 
Jumping more than thirty years forward to 2007, Ricardo/Itizó pays visits to several of his former revolutionary friends, thus opening the door to the incorporation of their experiences into the plot. One of them is the lawyer Regina Alexsandra Nogueira, a leader of the Communist Party of Brazil and former fellow humanities student, who was forced to go clandestine and, unbeknown to Ricardo/Itizó, was also in love with him for some time. Now, Ricardo/Itizó and Regina nostalgically recall their common friend Suely Yumiko Kanayama (Lesser spells her name “Kamayana”), also a member of the Communist Party of Brazil and a Nisei revolutionary whom everyone called “A Japonesinha” (the Little Japanese Woman), who was shot over one hundred times by government soldiers while fighting for the guerrilla in Araguaia. Later, “Yumi,” as her friends used to call her, had a small street in Campinas named after her, which becomes a source of pride and vindication for Ricardo/Itizó and Regina. The title of the novel, therefore, suggests that the entire plot is a nostalgic letter of thankfulness to the late revolutionary and others like her, dead and alive, who sacrificed their youth fighting against the dictatorship. The novel itself, with all its collective memories, is a metaphoric monument, a material memorial to their hitherto silenced heroism and bravery, aimed at interrogating institutionalized versions of the recent past. 
In a sudden temporary and thematic jump, Uma Rosa para Yumi incorporates the history of the Nikkei community in Brazil, including dekasegi experience, into the plot. Surprisingly, the chapters dealing with this topic provide an alternative story for Sueli Yumiko “Yumi” Kanayama. It is, therefore, up to the reader to decide which one is true. In this version, rather than being shot by government soldiers, Yumi has become a nun in a Japanese convent, after having a daughter named Bete (Elizabete) with her own brother, Akira. Using a creationist approach in the epilogue, the first-person narrator struggles mentally with his own characters, Itizó and Akira (Yumi’s brother), who protest their author’s intention of getting rid of them. Whereas the author insists that Akira must continue to be fictional, the character complains that his return to Brazil and some episodes of Yumi’s life have not been narrated yet. As to Itizó, the author’s alter ego, he declares his mission after claiming to be real: to recover Yumiko’s true story. In this alternative story, Itizó is a dekasegi who manages to save some money only to spend it all during the months he remained unemployed upon his return to Brazil, a common experience among Brazilian dekasegi.
If one considers a possible allegorical interpretation of this unexpected plot twist, it would not be too far-fetched to read it as a commentary on ethnocultural and racial identity in Brazil. The revolutionary Yumi, who ends up being shot during a confrontation with the Brazilian army, represents the fully integrated Nikkei who conceives of social freedom in her native country as a patriotic duty. Her heroic martyrdom becomes the ultimate proof of her deep-seated Brazilianness and symbolizes the birth of the new, multicultural, and tolerant Brazil. By contrast, the alternative Yumi as a nun back in Japan who ends up being impregnated by her own brother, Akira, embodies a silenced and isolated Nikkei whose relative ruins her life forever. This episode of incest could be read as a commentary on the long-held isolationist stance and sojourner mentality of remote rural communities in the states of São Paulo and Parana. Yumi’s joining a Catholic convent in Japan, on the other hand, also elicits colonialist connotations. The veiled message of the implicit author, therefore, suggests the need for further integration into mainstream Brazilian society. This should not be confused, however, with assimilationist propaganda, as Miyazawa repeatedly celebrates cultural difference in both novels.
In other words, whereas Ricardo/Itizó’s double (Nikkei and majority Brazilian) identity is portrayed as an unproblematic life choice, Yumi’s alternative story of incest and convent reads as a warning against the perils of the survival of a cloistered and isolationist mentality within the Nikkei community.

The Birth of Liberdade
As proof of the author’s anti-assimilationist stance, Yawara! proudly describes daily life and local customs in the predominantly Japanese neighborhood of Liberdade, in São Paulo, whose neighbors no longer have to defend themselves from racial slurs. Among other historic landmarks, Miyazawa highlights the creation of the Banco América do Sul and the success of Japanese restaurants, publications, movie theaters, different types of Japanese stores (which now contribute to the carnival), and even a casino, all of which helped strengthen, according to him, Japanese identity in the city. 
Uma Rosa para Yumi also presents, from a nostalgic perspective, the history of Liberdade, the (formerly) Japanese neighborhood of São Paulo, conceived of as a symbol of universal unity among the different ethnicities: “Here, one can find Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, Vietnamese, Asians in general, their descendants, and Brazilians. In that small area thousands of people move around, a live demonstration of miscegenation, the natural mixture of culture and races. . . . The stores, persons, and typical things of each country that are present there are proof that the universal unity of peoples is possible.” Resorting to a metanarrative approach, the narrator incorporates other narrations about the neighborhood from his friends and former freedom fighters’ perspectives. The author’s interpretation of the social reality around him, including that of the neighborhood of Liberdade, is often filtered through a Marxist outlook: “As can be observed, with this friend’s account, a fellow partner of the social struggles in the next decades, it was possible to have different races and cultures living together, if the economic conditions allowed this just and harmonic development. However, as is known, the black community was expelled from its space, mainly for economic reasons, where capitalist gain is implacable.” Miyazawa laments, therefore, the fact that the socioeconomic success of his own ethnocultural community (which he openly celebrates in his literature) indirectly contributed to further marginalize and displace another historically disadvantaged group: the Afro-Brazilian community. As seen, throughout his works, Miyazawa attempts to connect the struggle of Japanese immigrants with that of the marginalized Afro-Brazilian community, an aspect that is reminiscent of other authors’ attempts, in both Brazil and in Peru, to link Japanese history and culture with those of local indigenous communities. As Lesser argues, these tactics that foment a social memory of mythical origins are often times aimed at highlighting the “natural” capacity of the Japanese for adaptation to the local customs or their rightful belonging to the country.
In the context of Miyazawa’s aforementioned attempts to connect the Nikkei community’s history with that of Afro-Brazilians, we learn that in the early fifties, the Galvão Bueno street in the Liberdade neighborhood was inhabited by Afro-Brazilians and had almost no businesses, but it gradually became populated by Japanese denizens: “Brazilians began to go away. Although they were not expelled, whenever they went into a bar, Brazilians felt bad because there were only Japanese.” The narrator also mentions the presence of Chinese and Korean immigrants in Liberdade. Initially, we learn, the small Japanese community lived in a different area of the neighborhood, where they sold Japanese products made both in Japan and Brazil. According to the memories of the narrator’s cousin, it was the construction of the Niterói movie theater that caused the rapid growth of the Japanese community in Liberdade during the 1950s, as it soon attracted other businesses, including one with geishas brought directly from Japan. The first Japanese in Liberdade, he recalls, were humble families that sold their lands in rural areas of the state of São Paulo and moved to the city, opening a business there so that their children could continue their studies. Incidentally, this emphasis on education is often highlighted in Japanese Brazilian literature as one of the engines behind the material and social progress of Japanese immigrants and their Nikkei descendants. The narrator’s cousin also recalls how one day he stopped going out with his majority Brazilian friends to join a group of Nisei friends, with whom he felt a greater affinity. Another landmark achievement of the Japanese community in Monte Alto, as presented in the text, is their first daily radio program, known as the “Nipponese Hour.”
During the 1950s, Japanese emigration to Brazil was renovated as a result of the “U.S. ban on Japanese entry and its occupation of Okinawa” (Lesser, Immigration 182), which displaced local inhabitants to build military bases. When almost 55,000 Issei immigrants (the so-called Japão Novo) arrived, their relationship with local Nikkei, including the narrator and his relatives, became increasingly hostile. As a result, during the following decade, there were legendary fights between both groups in Liberdade, which ended up being exaggerated by São Paulo Shimbun and Paulista Shimbun, the local Japanese Brazilian press, to the delight of some Nikkei youth: “when the new Japanese, the Issei, arrived, they would arrive to Galvão Bueno street wanting to take over and tease the girls disrespectfully. They were used to that type of provocation in Japan. There were many fights because of this. Nisei youth, who were organized, responded accordingly.” In the end, there were complaints from the Japanese consulate, which sought the intermediation of two Nisei politicians. These fights between Nikkei youth and new arrivals evidence the appearance of a Nikkei cultural identity that is separate and different from that of Japan. In the same way that Nikkei youth’s worldview is different from that of their parents, who often tried to keep a low profile, they cannot identify with the demeanor and culture of Japanese newcomers either. While this type of infighting is relatively common in the case layered migrations, as established communities often condemn the behavior of newcomers of their own ethnic background, it is interesting to note that the anecdote is inserted immediately after highlighting the admirable coexistence of people from different ethnic backgrounds in Liberdade.
Lesser has briefly studied these incidents between Japão Novo new immigrants and the rest of the Nikkei community: “Longtime residents were often shocked by the attitudes of young Japanese toward everything, from the emperor to sexual relations. The newcomers were equally confused: They had trouble understanding old dialects filled with Japanized Portuguese words and wondered if earlier immigrants had become Brasil-bokê (‘made senile in Brazil’)” (Immigration 182).

Yawara! A Travessia Nihondin-Brasil and Uma Rosa para Yumi offer a panoramic view of the history of the Nikkei community in Brazil. They bring to the fore identitarian conflicts that affect the community as well as uplifting historical episodes that may contribute to emancipate its collective consciousness. At the same time, these two novels serve a didactic mission: like much of Japanese Brazilian cultural production, they educate readers about the formation and status quo of a hybrid culture that has successfully blended two very different national cultures into a liminal third space from which Brazilian national identity has been challenged and transformed. From this “in-between” space, Miyazawa’s writing (and, by extension, Nikkei collective discourse) contests the fixity, purity, or homogeneity of both Japanese and Brazilian cultures. These two novels, part of the social articulation of a Nikkei minority perspective, become sites of contestation of the very idea of national culture and the Brazilian nation, as both negative and positive ethnic stereotypes are revisited and questioned. “Received” cultural traditions and presumably fixed ethnic traits are ultimately transformed in the very site of the interstices between the purportedly monolithic Japanese and the Brazilian cultures. In this ongoing process of hybridization portrayed in Miyazawa’s novels, his characters strategically move in and out of Japaneseness according to the circumstances or their author’s intention to emphasize either cultural difference or belonging within the Brazilian nation. In the end, Miyazawa, like the other Japanese Brazilian authors and filmmakers, exercises his right to self-representation, to articulate an alternative national history, to present a differential knowledge coming from a minority group, and to elaborate an empowering Nikkei minority discourse from the periphery of mainstream Brazilian society.
Overall, Uma Rosa para Yumi reads as a continuation of the Japanese Brazilian “crossing” (i.e., the spatial, temporal, cultural, and psychological transition of the Japanese and Nikkei community in Brazil) mentioned in the title of his first novel, by adding information on three different, albeit interrelated, topics: the Nisei’s political struggle during the 1970s, the dekasegi experience, and the history of the Liberdade neighborhood, which can be read as an exploration of the formation of a Japanese community in São Paulo and, by extension, in Brazil. In his second novel, Miyazawa tries to offer a more experimental text, adding the polyphony of multiple perspectives and creationist dialogues among the implicit author and two of his main characters. Along with these metanarrative techniques, there is a blend fiction, testimonial, and memoirs, where one can find not only a direct message but a plausibly allegorical one. In any case, both Uma Rosa para Yumi and Yawara! serve the same purpose: to celebrate the economic, sociocultural, and political achievements of the Japanese and Nikkei community in Brazil, particularly the active involvement of Nikkei youth in revolutionary activities during the dictatorship of the 1970s, thus claiming a place in the national project. In the process, they reveal the Nikkei community’s resistance tactics during the first decades, its cultural strategies for community formation, and its progressive integration into mainstream Brazilian society, which, as stated, finds a point of inflection during the 1970s through the sociopolitical commitment of leftist Nikkei youth, of which Miyazawa was part. Both texts, therefore, become indirect tools to negotiate the place of the Nikkei community in Brazil always within national borders, without resorting to assimilationist discourses. The post-national approaches present in the works of several Sino-Peruvian and Japanese Peruvian authors are also absent from Miyazawa’s narratives. 
In the author’s note at the end of Uma Rosa para Yumi, Miyazawa offers a disclaimer: he feels no shame or regret for not having fully acquired Japanese culture during his childhood. As he explains, those were different times and circumstances: “Since I did not enjoy the circumstances to live two lives at the same time, I see today that I did not have the opportunity to have the valuable experience of a people and a civilization whence we originated, which forged its history through sacrifices, sweat, tears and happiness, with their mistakes and achievements, also forging their identity, which brought an immeasurable contribution to the construction of a new world for everyone.” The author, therefore, suggests that since now the times have changed and it is socially acceptable to express pride in one’s ethnic heritage without running the risk of being accused of an anti-Brazilian stance, he is attempting, through his literature, to challenge obsolete notions of a traditional, fixed, and homogenous Brazilian identity. This is precisely why in the “Author’s note” included in Uma Rosa para Yumi, he describes Yawara! as a “settling of scores and a reconciliation.” Instead of recommending a assimilationist “melting pot” message, Uma Rosa para Yumi provides, like many other Japanese Brazilian literary texts, a proud re-creation of the customs and traditions of the Japanese community in Brazil, including yaitô (burning a certain area of the body to cure rheumatism) or miai (the Japanese tradition of introducing a single man to a single woman to consider the possibility of marriage). It also describes how Nikkei culture is an ongoing project (rather than a set of fixed cultural traits), as these traditions have evolved or were lost in the new, hybrid Nikkei cultural third space: “–Times are changing. If it were as in the past, you could marry one of Kurô-san’s daughters through miyai. Now, women are the ones who are choosing men. It is not as in the time of old anymore–said Fusako.” 
Through these two novels, Miyazawa also celebrates a new way of being Brazilian: by articulating, from the periphery of Brazilian mainstream society, his ethnic roots and cultural difference, all the while claiming a place in the Brazilian national project. At the same time, Miyazawa’s appeal to the collective and historical memories of his community is an attempt to foster group identity and self-recognition: through his literature, he reminds Brazilian Nikkei about their past, which may guide them to conceptualize their present, contemplate the future, and encourage them to pass on this representation of their “shared past” to future generations. Finally, the writing of these two novels has cathartic overtones, as they fill a vacuum for recognition both within the Nikkei community and in the historical narratives of the country.

Works Cited
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Inoue, Ryoki. Saga. A História de Quatro Gerações de uma Família Japonesa no Brasil. São Paulo: Globo S.A., 2006. Print.
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Miyazawa, Júlio. “Sem a sua história a minha...” Projeto incorporado ao Museu Histórico da Imigração Japonesa no Brasil. Web.25 June, 2014.
---. Uma Rosa para Yumi. São Paulo: Edição do autor, 2014. Print.    
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