Q: How did you come up with the idea of making a film about Brazilians who go to Japan?

A: Back in 2003, when I was an undergraduate at Harvard, I studied the fascinating history of Japanese migration to Brazil and the more recent phenomenon of Brazilian migration to Japan. Brazil has the largest population of Japanese descendants in the world outside Japan, and during the past 25 years, hundreds of thousands of Brazilians of Japanese descent and their families have gone to Japan in search of higher salaries and a better life. I received grants and fellowships to do several years of field research in each country, and I wrote articles and theses that I presented at academic conferences. But in the process, I realized that while my sociological research was good for identifying trends and making generalizations based on surveys and interviews, it wasn’t really showing the lives of individual migrants and families. In 2006, I was in São Paulo finishing a year of research, and was about to go to Japan for 18 months of research there. It occurred to me that, just as I was about to move from Brazil to Japan, there were thousands of Brazilian families about to make the trip. I wanted to meet them, show their faces, and give them the opportunity to tell their stories – not just through interviews, but by following their journeys across the world for several years and letting them share their own lives and experiences. I bought video and audio equipment and, together with Ana Paula, set out to find Brazilians who were about to go to Japan. That’s how the documentary was born. At the time, we imagined that we would see some major changes in the lives of the participants, but we didn’t foresee that this film would be a decade-long journey and that we would witness in great intimacy such dramatic and unexpected turns of fate.