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Episode 45: I'm glad Fujiko is Japanese!

The Ozaki family was a large one. The eldest and second sons were married and lived together with their families and parents at the family home.

Fujiko was born in that house. Her grandfather, who had three grandsons, was a big fan of the Japanese actress Fujiko Yamamoto, so he named his first granddaughter Fujiko. The family hoped that she would become as beautiful and popular as Fujiko Yamamoto.

Fujiko grew up to be a cheerful girl. However, in her first year of high school, a male classmate teased her, saying, "I heard you ran away with Ozaki, didn't you?"

In fact, "Fujiko Ozaki" sounds like "I ran away with Ozaki" in Portuguese, so everyone laughed out loud at my classmate's ridicule.

Since it was during class, the teacher asked what had happened, and Marcelo, ever the bossy one, explained the funny way "Fujiko Ozaki" was pronounced.

The teacher continued the lesson, saying, "Japanese names are really interesting."

Since then, Fujiko has come to hate her name, her classmates and teachers, and the following year she finally transfers schools.

Even at my new school, I felt very uncomfortable when people mentioned my name or called me "Japonese No. 1. " But I persevered and graduated from high school.

After that, despite her parents' objections, she enrolled in a dance school in Rio de Janeiro and became a professional dancer.

Fujiko went by the stage name "Angelica." She dyed her hair blonde and wore gorgeous Brazilian makeup.

One day, when Fujiko appeared on a television program, she was approached by a singer named Nelson Rins.

Nelson asked Fujiko to teach him Japanese because he was going to participate in a "Foreigner Singing Contest" in Japan. "I'm Brazilian. I can't speak Japanese," Fujiko replied. Whenever she asked him about Japan or the Japanese language, she would always repeat this line.

After a while, Fujiko met Nelson again.

Nelson said that thanks to participating in the "Foreigner Singing Contest," he signed a contract with a club in Yokohama and began performing songs while playing the guitar. Nelson then asked Fujiko,

"Fujiko, do you want to come with me? Japan is a great place. I want to learn Japanese. Why don't you learn it too, Fujiko?"It was sudden, but Fujiko decided to go to Japan with Nelson that summer for a month.

Nelson rented an apartment near his company and set his sights on succeeding in Japan's cut-throat entertainment industry.

Meanwhile, Fujiko decided to stay with her cousin who lives in Chiba Prefecture and is a dekasegi worker. Her cousin showed her around Tokyo. The city was bustling with foreign tourists, and Fujiko also enjoyed the tourist experience.

When her cousins ​​were working, Fujiko would walk around Tokyo on her own.

Under the midsummer sun, Fujiko stopped in her tracks as she spotted a shaved ice shop. A childhood memory suddenly came flooding back to her. She remembered her grandmother often making shaved ice topped with gooseberry syrup.

As I savored the cool, fluffy shaved ice, memories of fun times spent with my family came to mind: comparing the taste of different rice cakes at New Year's, participating in sports days together, cheering on the Red and White Song Battle in faraway Japan on TV, my parents appearing on a local singing contest, and so on.

"I'm glad I was born Japanese!" Fujiko thought proudly. At the same time, she regretted having lived her life denying her Japanese ancestry. She felt that she couldn't apologize to her grandparents and parents.

Blonde hair, gorgeous makeup, pumps and high heels, glittering accessories, Fujiko with the stage name "Angelica" is a fake. Fujiko has decided to graduate from this false character as soon as possible.

Before returning to Brazil, I visited Nelson and the two talked about many things.

"Fujiko, you have really changed! You look like a different person. You seem so happy! You seem so confident and more bonita ! Gosti and viu !" Nelson said.

"I don't mind being called 'Japonesa' and I don't care if people make fun of my name. I'm proud of my Japanese roots," he said when he returned to Brazil.


1. Japanese women
2. Beautiful and cute
3. I like it

© 2024 Laura Honda-Hasegawa

Brazil dekasegi fiction foreign workers identity Japan Japanese Brazilians Nikkei in Japan
About this series

In 1988, I read a news article about dekasegi and had an idea: "This might be a good subject for a novel." But I never imagined that I would end up becoming the author of this novel...

In 1990, I finished my first novel, and in the final scene, the protagonist Kimiko goes to Japan to work as a dekasegi worker. 11 years later, when I was asked to write a short story, I again chose the theme of dekasegi. Then, in 2008, I had my own dekasegi experience, and it left me with a lot of questions. "What is dekasegi?" "Where do dekasegi workers belong?"

I realized that the world of dekasegi is very complicated.

Through this series, I hope to think about these questions together.

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About the Author

Born in São Paulo, Brazil in 1947. Worked in the field of education until 2009. Since then, she has dedicated herself exclusively to literature, writing essays, short stories and novels, all from a Nikkei point of view.

She grew up listening to Japanese children's stories told by her mother. As a teenager, she read the monthly issue of Shojo Kurabu, a youth magazine for girls imported from Japan. She watched almost all of Ozu's films, developing a great admiration for Japanese culture all her life.

Updated May 2023

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