Does Lake Biwa Look Like Brazil?Waves of Japanese-Brazilian Campers Surprise Local People
Recently, Biwako Maiami Auto Camp, a campground located on the shore of Lake Biwa, Yoshikawa, Yasu City, Shiga Prefecture, has been attracting many Brazilian families around the "Bon" holiday season every year, to the surprise of the campground staff. Many of them come from the Tokai area, such as Aichi and Gifu Prefectures, apparently hearing information about it via word-of-mouth or the Internet. Users name different attractions to the campground, such as, "It commands a fine view," or "It looks like the lake in my hometown. I miss it."
On the evening of August 14, despite the cloudy weather, all of its 102 campsites were occupied. Brazilian families were using 20 of those sites. Some of them enjoyed playing soccer with Japanese groups.
"As the distance between the tent and the lake is short, I can watch my children while also taking care of the barbecue. I also like that the water isn't sticky, like it is at the sea," said Toshiaki Narita, who came from Taketoyo Town, Aichi Prefecture, with three families totaling 15 people, to stay for five nights and six days. Thanks to his friend's introduction, he has been using this campground every year since about 10 years.
He works at a plant affiliated with a major toilet maker. He said that as the plant is closed during "Bon" holidays, he takes several days off to come here. "I feel nostalgic remembering a lake in the State of Parana, where I used to play in my childhood. I also saw some acquaintances from my plant."
Lucas Urakawa, a teen who came with four families totaling 13 people living in Gifu Prefecture, said, "I like it because it has such a great view." He found out about the campground through Facebook and has used it since three years ago. This year he invited his relative, Julião Shibata, from his native country. Shibata said, smiling, "I am impressed that there is little trash and it's clean. I want to come next year too."
According to the campground manager, the number of Brazilian nationals using the campsite began approximately five years ago. Now they account for use of about 20 percent of the campsites during the peak season of "Bon" holidays. As each of their groups is large, she said, "Probably they account for approximately 40 percent of the total number of campers. When I mentioned this to other campgrounds in the prefecture, they were surprised." Hiroaki Sakai, an officer of the Japan Auto Camping Federation, said, "There are many plants in the Tokai area. It seems Brazilians working there visit the campground. However, I haven't heard of groups gathering outside their residential prefecture like they do at Shiga. Open spaces like Lake Biwa may suit their temperaments. "(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)