Hafu – The Film

this brochure, published in November 2010, gives insight into the lives of hafus

Birthed from the Hafu Project, the Hafu Film is a documentary that follows 5 half Japanese subjects as they explore their identity and place in modern day Japan. It is expected to be released next year.

Erika Wiseburg of the project describes the film as “an attempt to open the channels of communication and break down stereotypes that are so prevalent (in Japan)”.

Hafu Film is currently running an “Indie Go Go” campaign (For those who don’t know, Indie Go Go is a site where different artists can introduce their projects and ask for pledges in exchange for gifts). The directors of the film are looking for donations to help with post production.

For $10 you can get a postcard from the directors and a shout out on facebook. For $50 you can get a copy of the DVD, and for $100, you can receive artwork from a half-Japanese artist or your name in the end credits. The campaign runs until December 11th.

As a half myself, I am very intrigued by what these individuals will say about their experience. On the website for the film, the creators refer to the feeling of “being an outsider” in one’s own culture, or being regarded as such by full-blooded Japanese, a feeling I am certainly familiar with. I was bullied by my white-er classmates in NY for being Japanese, and when my well-intentioned parents took me to a Japanese summer camp, I was bullied there as well for being only half Japanese.

However, I have found my positive experiences of meeting other half-Japanese more rewarding than my negative experiences are discouraging. Before my most recent move to Japan in 2009, I had met only a few half-Japanese in my life; I became acquainted with severalfold this number over the past 2 years, an experience that has been a catalyst for revisiting the ever-problematic issue of my cultural identity. Maybe as a reaction to the difficult socialization process I underwent in my younger years, I tend to define myself by my intellectual interests, my political opinions, and by other purely cerebral points; discussing the ways in which we are defined, not by choice but by pure circumstance, is a different way of connecting with people, and an experience that had been missing from my life.

I’m happy to see this conversation happening. The brochure cites that 1 in 30 babies born in Japan today are of mixed race, and over the past 10 years in the United States, the number of mixed-race children in America has risen by 50%. If you yourself are not a hafu, you probably know someone who is (besides of course, the most famous one of all- President Obama).

We will keep you posted on its official release date. Check out their indie go go site for some preliminary profiles of half-japanese or to donate:  http://www.indiegogo.com/hafu-film

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Stephanie Nakajima

Stephanie Nakajima

Contrarian philosopher, half-woman, half-Japanese, all dolphin.

3 thoughts on “Hafu – The Film”

  1. While I can’t argue that being half Japanese doesn’t have challenges, its really no different then the challenges that other Japanese Americans have in Japan. Having Japanese friends who went to Japan as exchange students, they were treated worse than their white counterparts. Japanese people were openly hostile toward them while polite to the white people in their group even though they spoke fluent Japanese and could write in Japanese. During the war in Japan, Japanese people treated Japanese Americans poorly. That why the term Kibei nissei is really a derogatory term that used frequently to single out Japanese Americans. Being full Japanese myself and from a “very good Family”, it surprises me how often Japanese people today question my ethnicity. A lot of Hispanics think I’m Hispanic and a lot of Japanese can’t believe I’m Japanese.
    Because my Father was in America during the war, he saw how Japanese people were treated and like many of the people who lived through that kind of prejudice, he raised his family to embrace the American lifestyle and forget most of the things that were Japanese.The only Japanese holiday we ever celebrated was New Years. Its only now that younger Japanese Americans have gotten in touch with the Japanese language and heritage. Being the same age as Jake, I have seen the transition pre-internet to now and can honestly say that things aren’t half as bad as the way things were in the past. The internet has opened Japan in ways that Commodore Perry couldn’t imagine.

  2. Well, at least the film is not about New Hafu. now mind you, im not a hafu, just a negro living in japan. but id like to think that my hafu children will not be having the identity issues you experienced, as I will be engaging them and making sure that they know that they are not Japanese and will never be Japan. As half japaese half jamaican children, they will be thoroughly exposed to both their parents’ culture, and be assured that theres no need to try to be japanese or jamaican for that matter.

  3. I thought that this was an excellent documentary. I would like to use it as a related text for my hsc preliminary english exam. I was wondering where I could purchase this dvd?

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