COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT: Luis Filipe Fukutani - Improving a Japanese Community Across Nations and Generations
Thank you for being a part of the Kokoro Community! Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Luis Filipe Fukutani, I'm a fourth generation half Japanese and half Brazilian born in Brazil. As you can see, I don't have an official Japanese name for various reasons, but my (Japanese) grandma gave me Hideki, which nowadays I use it when I speak/practice Japanese.
Being half-Japanese, what are ways in which you stay connected to your Japanese heritage?
Being a fourth generation my household in Brazil wasn't traditional at all so nobody spoke Japanese except my Japanese grandparents nor had any activities you'd expect a traditional family to have such as martial arts or taiko or the like, however I grew up surrounded by certain Japanese values like respect, never wasting food and such, especially being surrounded by delicious food!!
Also even though it was minimal we always said itadakimasu, gochisousama, ohayou and oyasumi at least. Now that I'm in Canada I have the opportunity to learn Japanese further and try many things, I even tried kendo and iaido for a while, something I'd love to get back to but circumstances prevent me to at the moment.
What is the Japanese community like in Montreal?
The Japanese community here in Montreal is very small, a little less than 2000 which is about 750x smaller than Brazil's and I never realized how much I took for granted while I was in Brazil. Although I mentioned we weren't a traditional household my grandma was still teaching me Japanese when I asked her, but once I stopped asking she never forced me to continue and like a Brazilian just let me do my own thing. By the same token she would have taken me to the local Japanese community had I asked her. Because of such low numbers, the community here is very close-knit, especially the issei and nissei. Also because the of the small numbers, most sansei and yonsei are getting less and less involved in the community center and are always doing their own thing. They are also very reluctant to change and it's tough from the outside to come and suggest things to change whether it's from a newly-arrived Japanese immigrant or a Japanese-Brazilian like myself.
How do people celebrate Japanese culture in Montreal?
- Matsuri Japon (biggest summer festival)
- Otakuthon (biggest anime convention of Quebec, second biggest in Canada after Anime North)
- Mochitsuki (mochi making event)
- Yatai (second year this year celebrating night food stalls)
What are ways in which you're helping to support the Japanese community in Montreal?
I've been volunteering at Matsuri Japon for 5 years now and I'm the current security team leader. I also try to help find sponsors, which is not easy at all. I have also been volunteering at Mochitsuki for 5 years. I started organizing a language exchange at the community center and I also helped create Japanese mahjong workshops and started what I like to call the "partners program", approaching Japanese and Japanese m-related businesses to give members a discount in exchange for promotion on social media and such. I also have many other things I'm trying to create/suggest. I help the Montreal Bulletin, the local Japanese community newspaper with some articles and research, mostly during the summer though.
I have been meeting many more half Japanese lately and I've been trying to convince them to get involved one one way or another.
How have you enjoyed your Kokoro Care Packages?
YES I HAVE and I'd get them all if I could but for now I'm just saving up. I will probably be getting one soon though!
Is there anything else you would like to share with the Kokoro Community?