The Liberdade list

From where top nipo-brasileiro chefs eat their lamen (ramen) to where local alcoholics get their morning shave, this is the only guide you need to Liberdade - São Paulo's dystopian Japanese neighbourhood. 

Brazil is home to the largest population of Japanese outside of Japan (learn more in 'A Japanese in Brazil') and this diaspora is mainly clustered around São Paulo. Perched on the edge of the seedy down town is the neighbourhood of Liberdade, which quickly became the city's Japan town in the early 20th Century after droves of Japanese left the harsh work of the surrounding coffee fields and moved to the city to seek their fortunes. Although the area still beats to a nikkei drum, the last few decades have also seen more Chinese and South Koreans make Liberdade their home. Nonetheless, the old nipo-brasileiro influence dominates and can be seen in the old faces and myriad nooks still brimming with authentic Japanese tradition but all with a Brazilian twist...





  • Izakaya Issa (best traditional izakaya/sake bar also does snacks)
  • Kintaro (hole in the wall for beer, cachaça and sake)
  • Porque Sim (ramen and karaoke)
  • Cine Joia (hip nightclub with live sets in converted 1950s Japanese cinema  - check what’s on)
  • Lions Club (if you prefer a more glamorous 'balada' - good terrace)
  • Samurai (for sloppy karaoke)
  • Choperia Liberdade (karaoke for when the wheels come off and you don’t care anymore)