Japanese society, despite its high-tech gadgetry and fashion forwardness, is not considered the most open of cultures. It was built on a paradigm of “one nation, one culture, one race”. But in order to keep up with the outside world, it has had to adapt and change, even if the pace is slower than other cultures. One aspect where society is growing is in terms of mixed races, as Japanese people continue to go overseas and foreigners keep coming to Japan. One documentary explores the lives of the “hafus,” or the half-Japanese.
Simply entitled “Hafu“, the documentary tackles the complicated lives and intricacies of living or growing up biracial or multi-racial in Japan. Hafu is the Japanese term for those who are half-Japanese, a play on the English word “half”. What started out as a slightly derogatory term has eventually evolved into the preferred term for self-definition of those who are half-foreign. Statistics from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare show that one out of thirty babies born in Japan today are born to a couple where one of the parents is not of Japanese descent. That is roughly around 20,000 multi-racial babies every year.
The film follows the lives of five hafus, who narrate the film themselves: Sophia (Japanese-Australian), David (Japanese-Ghanian), Edward (Japanese-Venezuelan), Fusae (Japanese-Korean) and the Oi family (Japanese-Mexican). Using interviews and cinéma vérité footage, it interweaves the lives of these five people as they try to find their identity, amidst all the influences of their upbringing, family relationships, education, social status and even their physical appearance. The filmmakers, Megumi Nishikura and Lara Perez Takagi, are hafus as well and so they understand what their subjects are going through or had to go through. But more than just the stories of these people, the film is also an examination of Japanese society and how there is still a “hybrid reality” in terms of the country’s self-image and self-identity. Hafu is set to open in limited release in Japan this October.
[ via Fandom Post ]