FORT WORTH, Texas - It's been just over 100 years since the first Japanese immigrants arrived in Brazil.
What began with 165 families is now a population between 1.5 and 2.5 million Japanese Brazilians, which still only accounts for 1 percent of the country's population, and among those descendents is Marco Eguchi.
Eguchi's grandfather Alphonso, who he never met, immigrated to Brazil nearly 40 years ago.
The 23-year-old finished the 2012 season ranked ninth in the world standings and recently returned home to Brazil for the Final Brahma Super Bull event. The four-day event begins Thursday in Americana, which is 90 minutes north of where Eguchi grew up in Sao Paulo.
There are more people of Japanese descent in Brazil than anywhere else in the world outside of Japan.
Like the vast majority of Japanese Brazilians, Eguchi was culturally and socially raised as a Brazilian and speaks Portuguese.
When asked if he's ever visited his grandfather's home country, he simply said, "No."
With the help of a translator, he then explained, "They don't have bull ridings there."
However, as the PBR continues to grow and expand its international presence, Eguchi agreed that it would be special if he could one day compete in Japan.
For the time being, he's focused on the Brazilian finals.
"You just have to keep looking up, fighting it, try to keep your attitude up and keep going."
Having competed in a limited number of events, he's currently ranked 35th in the Brazilian standings. But he could make up substantial ground this weekend now that he's healthy and fully recovered from a hand injury that hampered him beginning in mid-May when he was hurt while riding at a practice pen.
He was bothered with the injury to his right riding hand for the better part of five months.
At the time of his injury, he was a Top-5 contender on the Built Ford Tough Series, but had only two Top-5 finishes down the stretch after leading the way with eight Top-5 finishes in the first 14 events, including an event win in Sacramento, Calif.
"Thank God it's not hurting anymore," he said. "It's feeling really good."
Eguchi said he felt sad not being able to ride up to his potential during that time and later added, "You just have to keep looking up, fighting it, try to keep your attitude up and keep going."
When asked if the world standings would have looked different had he not been injured, he said, "Maybe."
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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