The Other Hafu of Japan

The Other Hafu of Japan

Rafu Shimpo: Los Angeles Japanses Daily News

Brett Fujioka, Rafu Intern

A new documentary examines the lives of racially mixed individuals as they explore their own identities.

Is a ship the same if you take it apart piece by piece and replace its frame? No simple answer exists, as anyone who has tackled this philosophical Rubik’s cube knows.

The ethno-national equivalent to this riddle grows exceedingly more complicated with the swelling number of international unions each year. Statistics in 2004 chart that 1 in 15 marriages in Japan were international and that 1 in 30 children born there possesses a parent of non-Japanese descent. Japan’s ethnic constituency is rapidly changing and its people may need to rethink what it means to be Japanese in a country where blood and national identity are considered one and the same.

The same applies for the hafu (mixed Japanese) community. The lives for each individual half-Japanese vary from person to person and the filmmakers for the upcoming documentary, “Hafu,” and their subjects best represent this.

“Hafu” is the tentative title for an upcoming documentary in Japan following the lives of several half-Japanese individuals as they explore their identities.

Both Megumi Nishikura and Lara Perez Takagi spent most of their lives away from Japan. Takagi is half Spanish and stayed in Madrid, Sydney, Washington D.C., and Ottowa due to her diplomat father’s itinerant career. She eventually completed her higher education at the Francisco de Vitoria, Complutense and Waseda Universities before finally returning to Japan.

Nishikura, likewise, lived her childhood spread throughout the world. She stayed in Beijing, Manila, Honolulu, DC, Berlin, London, and Los Angeles and graduated from New York University.

“Lara and I have unusual stories and come from international backgrounds,” said Nishikura in an interview with the Rafu. “I don’t know if that’s representative of a lot of the mixed Japanese community.”

There’s a reason why they’re so hesitant to pinpoint a grand narrative for the hafu experience. There is no all-encompassing hafu story and the eclectic subjects of the documentary are indicative of this…

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