中島和夫. [Kazuo NAKAJIMA].

伯剌西爾國 サンパウロ州地圖 [Burajirukoku sanpauroshu chizu / Kanda Brazil, State of São Paulo].

Tokyo: [海外興業株式會社. / Kaigai Kogyo Kabushiki Gaisha / Overseas Kogyo Co., Ltd.]Showa 6 = [1931].

Colour lithograph, printed on very thick paper, manuscript title and red publisher’s handstamp to verso (Good to Very Good, overall clean and bright, very light wear along old folds, the odd very light spot, 10 cm tear entering image lower-left but with no loss to image and closed from verso, a tiny, closed tear upper right), 79 x 109 cm.

A very rare large format Japanese map of São Paulo State, Brazil, showing the locations and quantitative nature of the numerous Japanese immigrant communities in the region; the map was made during the height of Japanese immigration to Brazil, which resulted in the largest Japanese diaspora in the world, that today numbers over 2 million people.

This fascinating and important map depicts Brazil’s São Paulo State, the main destination for the waves of Japanese immigration that gave Brazil what remains today the world’s largest Japanese diaspora.  Beginning in 1908, thousands of Japanese farmers, fleeing poverty in their homeland came to work mainly on São Paulo’s immense coffee estates.  However, after much suffering and toil, the immigrants, through their intelligence and industry, attained a high degree of success, many leasing or buying their own agrarian estates, while other sought professional or entrepreneurial careers in the cities.  Today over 1 million Nipo-brasileiros live in São Paulo State, forming a major pillar of the general society, playing an outsized role in business, academia, culture and politics.

The present map was designed by the engineer Kazuo Nakajima and was printed in Tokyo ain 1931 by the Kaigai Kogyo Kabushiki Gaisha (Overseas Kogyo Co., Ltd.).  It was made to both inform the Japanese public about Japanese immigration to Brazil, as well as to educate prospective immigrants about their potential new homeland and the current state of their brethren in São Paulo State.  The map appeared just before the greatest wave of Japanese immigration, during which between 1926 and 1935 132,225 Japanese immigrants arrived in Brazil.

In grand scale, São Paulo State and its immediate neighbouring areas (extending from Paraná State, in the west, and over to Rio de Janeiro city, in the east) is showcased in detail.  São Paulo city can be seen in the lower centre, while the map labels every city and town of any significance and delineates all railways (all colour/symbol coded and labelled on the legend, lower right), while the patterns of land use are colour-coded per the legend, thus encompassing all the information that defines the state’s huge and bustling agrarian economy.

Most importantly, as explained in the legend, the red circles of various sizes placed upon the state’s cities and towns quantify the populations of the Japanese settlements around the state, with the size of circles made relative to the communities’ population.  For instance, São Paulo city is shown to be home to 3,400 Japanese Brazilians, the port of Santos is home to 2,900, while many small agrarian towns in the interior are home to several hundred Nipo-brasileiros.  Additionally, various symbols in the legend explain the different types of agrarian activities prevalent throughout the countryside.

To the best of our knowledge, no other map chronicles the locations, sizes, and nature of the Japanese communities in São Paulo State at what was a critical juncture, imbuing it with great academic value.

Interestingly, the map is housed within a contemporary printed paper sleave that was added to the map after it arrived in Brazil; it features an advertisement for a São Paulo farming goods store that was a local agent of the map.

A Note on Rarity

The present issue of the map was published in Showa 6 (1931) and is one of the several updated versions published by the Kaigai Kogyo Kabushiki Gaisha between around 1925 and the mid-1930s.

All editions of the map are very rare.  We have recently handled a circa 1925 edition of the map, which was the only example of any of the editions to appear on the Western market (at least as best as we are aware), save the appearance of the present example.

The only institutional example of the present edition of the map which was can trace is held by the National Diet Library (Tokyo).

Nipo-brasileiros: Japanese Immigration to Brazil – Creating the World’s Largest Japanese Diaspora

Japanese immigration to Brazil created the largest Japanese diaspora in the world – today around 2 million Brazilians can claim Japanese ancestry, as Nipo-brasileiros.  About half of this population is concentrated inSão Paulo State, where the Japanese Brazilian influence is, far from being a niche presence, central to the identity of the greater society.

During the Meiji Era in Japan (1868 – 1912), the country hyper-industrialized, and while this overall led Japan to attain a level of unprecedented wealth, this prosperity was concentrated in the cities.  The rural areas, due to the abolition of the traditional feudal system and other economic realignments, suffered terribly, especially in southern Japan, causing dire poverty. 

Consequently, thousands of Japanese farmers decided to leave Japan in the hopes of starting new lives in unfamiliar, faraway lands.  Many of the initial waves of immigrants went to places such as California, British Columbia, Hawai’i and Peru.

Meanwhile, around the turn of the century, Brazil’s agrarian sector, and its coffee plantations in particular, were booming.  Yet, the great estates suffered from severe shortage of workers, especially skilled labour, while Japan had a surplus of under-employed labourers accustomed to semi-tropical and tropical agriculture.

In 1908, the first party of Japanese immigrants arrived in Brazil.  They, and the other early arrivals that followed, were compelled to work in almost slave-like conditions, mostly on coffee plantations in São Paulo State. 

However, the Nipo-brasileiros proved to be incredibly hard-working, patient and clever.  Many saved up money, while groups of Japanese farmworkers pooled resources, and it was not long before many bought their own coffee plantations (as shown on the present map!).  These enterprises often thrived, due to the industriousness of their proprietors.

The, albeit hard-won, success of the early Japanese Brazilians encouraged others to make the long voyage from the home country.  While only 14,983 Japanese immigrated to Brazil between 1908 and 1914, from 1914 to 1940 over 164,000 Japanese immigrated to Brazil, with the majority of these arriving between 1926 and 1935.  Around 75% of these immigrants settled in São Paulo State.

While many Nipo-brasileiros remained in the agrarian sector, others migrated to the cities, notably São Paulo, where the second generation became educated and followed entrepreneurial or professional careers.  They proved to be incredibly disciplined and civic-minded and they gained a reputation for honesty and competence in a society that had chronic problems with corruption and disorder.

Today, Japanese Brazilians play a critical role in the economic and cultural life of Brazil that far transcends their size as constituting only 1% of the total population; this is especially true in São Paulo State, where over 1 million residents claim Japanese ancestry.  While the Nipo-brasileiro identity and culture is not under existential threat, intermarriage outside of the community is today very common, such that the Japanese Brazilians have become highly integrated into the general Brazilian society.

References: National Diet Library: YG835-152; OCLC:673531272.