However, the vast majority do not keep an interest in chanoyu when they become adults; consequently they know very little about it.
The Japanese Community in Brazil 1908-1940 - Between Samurai and Carnival
Given this level of prestige and status as a vehicle for the transmission of traditional culture, it is easy to see why immigrants would be eager to learn it once they were given the opportunity. Had I not uncovered the ways in which chanoyu is constructed in Japan, I would not have been able to realise its importance as a marker of identity for first-generation migrants. By the same token, I would not have understood why second-generation migrants were not too keen to learn it since they had already started the process of becoming Brazilians.
However, since the s, when Japan became a leading economic power, nisei and sansei Brazilians have begun to take a renewed interest in their ethnic origins, to see themselves as Japanese and to study traditional arts, including chanoyu. In this period, the prestige of Japan in the world, and the recognition from mainstream society of its culture as a symbol of refinement, also attracted a new group of students to chanoyu : non-Japanese Brazilians. For them, chanoyu offered an introduction to Japanese culture and Zen Buddhism.
Establishing historical and transnational connections was central to an understanding of how and why Buddhism in general, and Zen in particular, has found a place in the Brazilian religious field and urban culture. It was thus clear from the start that if I wanted to encompass the transnational flows of Zen into Brazil, my field should be a multi-sited one.
In the past decade or so, several anthropologists have been reflecting on the implications of globalisation and transnational communities for the ethnographic method. To this end, my book addresses both experiences. Accordingly, I conceived the book as a multi-sited research in order to track the flows of Zen from Japan, Europe and the US into Brazil, and as they made their way back into these countries as well as to Latin America.
Importantly, such flows were never univocal, and they have been significant in the creation of a conflicting reception of Zen among Japanese, Japanese-Brazilians and non-Japanese Brazilians in the country. The same state of affairs has been observed in many Western countries where Buddhism emerged and developed as a result both of immigration and religious conversion. A more nuanced approach reveals a blurred area where Japanese— Brazilians, who have been Catholic for many generations, have become interested in Zen through zazen , while some non-Japanese Brazilians have developed a devotional attitude towards Zen.
Indeed, Zen in Brazil was never isolated from the trends occurring overseas. While writing my book, I once again had to grapple with cultural translation. For my Masters dissertation I had addressed translation between two cultures Japan and Brazil and two languages Japanese and Portuguese. This time, writing the book in Australia meant that I had to work across three cultures and three languages. Not only did interviews have to be translated from Japanese and Portuguese into English, but writing in Australia meant that the book had to answer to the many questions Australians asked me about Brazil and the particularities of Zen and the Japanese migrants in Brazil.
Moreover, the historical connections between Australia and Japan were utterly different from those between Brazil and Japan, as I mentioned before. While I lived in Japan and was affiliated with the National Museum of Ethnology of Osaka in , things had also changed for me. I was no longer regarded as a Brazilian scholar, but as a Brazilian—Australian one. Interestingly, for the Japanese it seemed that the war had not really left a mark in the same sense.
Mostly, people smiled and told me of past or wished-for holidays in Australia. In this context, it was definitely easier to relate to my interviewees as a scholar from an Australian university. It is noteworthy that, during my research, I realised that the way in which Bud- dhism is experienced in Brazil is not peculiar to that country. Buddhism is now the fastest growing religion in Australia, having grown 80 percent between the and censuses. This surge is not only due to migration and refugees from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, but also to large numbers of Austral- ians converting to Buddhism.
How they associate them with peace, love, happiness, and compassion. When I first lived in Japan in the early s, many Japanese friends told me they thought that Buddhist monks were strongly related to money. In addition, Buddhism in Japan is not connected with happiness at all, but is associated with funerary rituals.
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What is more, many Japanese related all these qualities peace, love, happiness, and compassion with Catholicism. By contrast, in Brazil, the largest Catholic country in the world, many think that Catholic priests and the Church are heavily associated money. In this light, the process of cultural translation is fascinating. What happens when Buddhism arrives in the largest Catholic country in the world?
How it is imagined? What attracts Brazilians to Buddhism? These are some of the questions my book answers. Looking back, I can see that I have always been interested in how the imagination is historically constructed and, in turn, shapes the way people behave. Starting from the prestigious role chanoyu acquired in Japan, to how it was constructed by the Japanese migrants in Brazil, to the images and ideas associated with Zen Buddhism and Japan what we could call Orientalism in Brazil , my research work has always been centred on how ideas move around certain locales, and how they are translated and recreated in the new setting as hybrids which are not solely part of either the culture of the sending or the host countries.
They are original creations. Now that I live permanently in Australia, I am soon to start new research focusing on Japanese-Australian religious connections. Baumann, M. Befu, H.
A Long and Winding Road: Cross-Cultural Connections Between Brazil, Australia and Japan
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