World Cup and Churrasco, Japanese for the World Cup and with it Brazilian Barbecue

Japanese increasing excitement for the World Cup and with it Brazilian Barbecue.

Matthew Baron Brazil, Churrasco Party

Japanese increasing excitement for the World Cup and with it Brazilian Barbecue.

The Japanese are increasing their interest in food and other items associated with Brazil.  This is ahead of the World Cup soccer tournament to be held there next months.   Increasing traffic to Brazilian themed restaurants and Brazilian and Football related events.

Restaurante Carioca is a Brazilian restaurant in the Aoyama neighborhood in Tokyo, associated with former soccer star Ruy Ramos. Ruy Ramos, a naturalized Japanese of Brazilian descent, and his restaurant, for some time, has been a favorite dining spot for ardent fans. Fans of both barbecue, and the sport of Football in Brazil.  Sales have been up 20 percent or so in recent months as a broader range of people flock to the restaurant.  Ruy Ramos regularly promotes the Gifu club as well as the World Cup and with it Brazilian Barbecue .

“As the World Cup approaches, Brazil has been frequently featured in media stories, so more and more people appear to be interested in Brazilian food as well,” said Yuichi Osumi, the restaurant’s manager.

As host of next year’s World Cup, Brazil has seen local media attention grow more intense since Japan earned a berth in the tournament.  Not only citizens born in Japan but those immigrants that now call Japan home.  Business has become so brisk at the restaurant that reservations for one of the 40 seats are now tough to get on weekends. They view the World Cup and Brazilian Barbecue interest as the driver for increased sales.

The main item on the  menu is “churrasco”…

The main item on the menu is “churrasco”, a style of grilling and delivering the grilled meat to the customers on specially made Brazilian BBQ skewers.   This system is popular in Latin America along with “mate”. ‘Mate’ is a caffeine-rich tea with origins in Brazil and other South American countries.  The brisk sales of these two items is another example of the growing interest in Latin America.  There has always been much interest in Brazil with Japanese culture. But now it seems that with the World Cup and Brazilian Barbecue will bring more Japanese embracing Brazilian culture.

…and ‘mate’

Mate contains so many minerals and fibers that they sometimes refer to it as “liquid salad”.  Last year, imports of mate leaves jumped eighteen-fold from the previous year. Partly because of the popularity of a bottled mate beverage launched by Coca-Cola (Japan) Co. and tea bag-based products.

T’s Energy, a Tokyo sports gym in the Ryogoku district of Sumida Ward, even serves the tea at its in-house cafe.  Mieko Yokozeki, a nutritionist at the gym, says good things about mate. Mate combined with moderate exercise, helps people with irregular life patterns lower the risk of developing lifestyle diseases.  The “acai” berry, from a species of palm tree native to the Amazon, is also drawing interest for its presumed health benefits. In February, Calpis Co. started selling Acai Water, a fermented fruit drink containing aca. This has proved popular, particularly among women.  Encouraged by its success, Calpis launched a carbonated version in June.

Meanwhile, Sanna’s Co., operator of an online shopping site specializing in Brazilian fashion items, has seen sales of women’s swimsuits climb nearly 20 percent. With bold designs and colors with Latin American flair on.  There is clearly a trend but will the trend sustain beyond the World Cup this summer?

For more information, take a look at articles in the Japan Times: