Camila Ogawa: “(…)we only can touch the hearts of other people with love. Together we are more, much more!”

Camila took a huge step and went from Brasil to Japan, two opposite cultures at first, but so alike when you go into details. Like Camila says, there are a lot of things that makes us similar to each other. As a designer she has the opportunity to feel more valued in Tokyo than Rio de Janeiro, but in some way she misses the spontaneity of the Brazilian people, that instant warmth that you get from anyone.

1 – How old were you when you moved to Tokyo? What was the main reason to move?

I came to Japan last year, 2017 and I was 27 years old. Ever since I knew my husband, who is Japanese, the idea of getting to know Japan and living here began to grow in me. After being married for 5 months and living together in Brazil, we decided that Japan would be the ideal place to take our first steps and then we moved to Tokyo.

2 – What kind of cultural characteristics have you absorbed from Japan?

Japan is an amazing country! Things here work very well and in a very organised way. But, without doubt, the aspect that fascinates me the most here is security. Here I have learned to trust the other and to have more sense of community.

3 – Do you think your origins have influenced people around you? 

For sure! I see this every day in Tetsuo, my husband, in how he absorbed a whole “Brazilian way of being” by living with me. But I also see this in the small details. Here in Japan, it is not part of their culture to celebrate Christmas with their family (it’s not even a holiday!). Christmas is a good date for couples. But Tetsuo’s family decided to have a family dinner for knowing how important this was to me. I was extremely happy about it.

4 – What are the biggest challenges of living in a foreign country?

I think here in Japan my biggest challenge is the language. Although I live in Tokyo, where I can communicate “well” in English, there are things I need help to solve.

Camila ogawa mutual dna interview recipe brasil japan

5 – Name the most positive aspects of Tokyo.

For sure, safety. The freedom I have to do and be whatever you want here is priceless.

6 – During this time in a foreign country what have you learned about the human being? What sets us apart from each other?

In fact, I can only see how much we are all alike and how connected we are. We have this thing in our head, that a person from another culture is completely different, but it is not. We all have our peculiarities and preferences, but we feel the same way as the other. Realising this only made me realize how empathetic it is to make the world a better place.

7 – What is missing in your home country that your current one has and vice versa?

What is missing in Brazil that Japan has is security. But in Brazil we have our spontaneity. I miss talking to people I met at the queue of the bus, the bank, etc. Here in Japan there is a major barrier to these interpersonal exchanges.

8 – Is there a favourite japanese dish you prefer?

I learned to eat a lot that I did not care about when I lived in Brazil, but if I have to choose only one Japanese dish as my favorite, I chose the kare (Japanese curry).

9 – Which stereotype doesn’t make sense about the japanese?

That they are extremely polite people. Not that they are not educated, but in everyday life we realize that it is not quite the way we see it on TV shows.

camila ogawa brigadeiro recipe mutual dna

10 – What were your biggest fears before you moved? 

My biggest fear was acceptance of always being seen as the “foreigner.” The truth is that I don’t have much to get away from, I will always be seen as someone from outside, but today I even like it. About going wrong, I’ve never been in a situation like this, my only fear is if something happens in Brazil, I do not have the means to get there long enough since I’m literally located on the other side of the world compared to Brazil.

11 – From the legal point of view, was the social framework easy? Do you have any advice for someone moving in?

For me, it was all very quiet. My visa process was simple and fast. But I got here with all the support from my husband and his family, that made it a lot easier. My advice is to try to connect with people who are already here, there is a lot of material on youtube and instagram. In my instagram geared to our life here in Japan, I always get questions about what it is like to live here, tips and everything and I always help how I can. Connect, there are a lot of people willing to help.

12 – What are the greatest labor differences between Brasil and Japan?

I think a world-known thing is working overtime in Japan, which can be very stressful. In addition, there is a very rigid hierarchy in traditional Japanese companies. But by working on a start-up, I don’t feel that, my work environment is a lot more informal. As a designer I feel that I am much more valued here than in Brazil.

13 – What is your favourite city spot in Tokyo?

I really like Asakusa, it’s a place full of culture and history. I feel that I’ve just arrived in Japan every time I go there.

14 – Where do you feel “at home” in Tokyo? Is there a specific place?

This question is pretty difficult for me. I think here, as I said before, I’ll never be seen as part of the whole, you know? I feel at home when I am surrounded by people who do well to my heart, no matter where I am.

15 – Do you have a favourite restaurant in Tokyo?

I am currently in search of my favorite hamburger in Tokyo, so we are always testing different places. One place I really like is the Rigoletto in Shibuya, a great modern restaurant to go with friends or on a date.

16 – What is it for you to be real? / What defines you as a person?

Lately, more than ever, I have tried to answer these questions to myself and tried to find myself as a person, and that is so difficult! We change a lot, all the time. To be real for me, now, is to accept how much I am failing and how much I can improve, there is no perfect Camila and I do not want to pass it on. I am this whirlwind of feelings, thoughts, defects, attempts and successes. What I want to pass to the world is my best version, which today is better than yesterday and worse than tomorrow. Oh, and a lot of love, because we only can touch the hearts of other people with love. Together we are more, much more!


Rio de Janeiro, Brasil


Currently Living:

Tokyo, Japan



1 can of condensed milk
1 tablespoon butter (preferably unsalted, may be margarine too)
3 to 5 tablespoons grated coconut (depends on how much you like coconut, I like
very, I used 5)
2 to 3 tablespoons grated coconut for confectionery



Put the 3 ingredients in a pan over medium / high heat. Stir continuously, scraping the back and sides.

When bubbling begins, reduce the heat and do not stop stirring. It is in point when starting to peel off the bottom of the pan. If you want more consistency, stir for a few more minutes after separating from the bottom of the pan.

Put in a dish, cover with plastic wrap and let cool. When cold, grease hands with butter and make balls of desired size. Pass the grated coconut and put in the mold.

The yield varies according to the size of the balls, for small balls (as in the photo) the yield was 21 units.

camila ogawa brigadeiro recipe mutual dna

Name of the recipe:

Beijinho de coco (Coconut Brigadeiro)


Country of origin:


  All Rights Reserved © 2018