December 17th, 2010
Sara was one of the first volunteers to contact us directly and express an interest in supporting the film. (Oh the powers of facebook!) We met her about two months before our Kyoto sneak preview (she lives in Kyoto) and since then she has been an indispensable part of our Kansai team. We hope to continue to work with her on our upcoming Kobe and Osaka shoots. Lots of love to you sista!
Name: Sara Ai Coe
Mix: Father= New Zealander Caucasian Mother= Japanese Kansai-jin
Expertise: Our Kansai right hand woman!
Birthplace: Wellington New Zealand
Time spent in Japan: 1year and 4months
Experience growing up as a Hafu: I really have my mother to thank for keeping me deeply connected with my Japanese roots. From a young age, my mother enrolled me and my older sister into a Japanese school in Wellington (my sister was the very first Hafu to enroll and graduate from this school). Everyday I went to school and studied Science, Social Studies, Math etc with the other Japanese students. I was never really taunted for being Hafu, if anything kids were just curious. But being a shy child, I had my own insecurities about being ‘different’. I would hide from my Caucasian father picking me up from Japanese school and would be absolutely mortified when my mother served rice crackers instead of cookies when my Kiwi (New Zealand) friends came over.
Living away from my mother after high school, my Japanese tongue took a beating. My Japanese level dropped and I felt less ‘Japanese’ as I had little connection with the Japanese community. That’s why last year, when I was presented with the opportunity to come live in Japan, I leapt at the chance.
Any changes as an adult?: I used to tell people I was 70% Kiwi and 30% Japanese. That’s how I felt. I felt like I didn’t really identify with the Japanese ideology of a homogenous society. However, living here for a year, I was surprised at how well I adjusted and how quickly my Nihongo came back. Even all the rules I used to hate (e.g Tatemae/Honne), I learned to understand and respect. My Japanese self popped right back up but I’ll resist from giving myself a percentage on how ‘Japanese’ I feel. I will never be accepted as being 100% Japanese. Nor do I strive to be. I know my place and I am really comfortable with where I stand. I’m the outsider looking in and at times the insider looking out. I love being that chameleon!!
Why do you support the Hafu film: I discovered the Hafu film project purely by accident, a beautiful accident =). As soon as I heard about the project, I knew I had to be involved. The film is created with talent and heart, something which is so rare these days. Already I have met a lot of talented and amazing Hafus. It blew my mind working at the ‘Kyoto Hafu film preview/fundraising party’. Never in my life was I surrounded by so many of ‘my kind’. For once I wasn’t a minority. Big ups to Megumi, Lara, and Marcia. You guys are doing amazing things.
What do you hope the outcome of to film is: I hope the film results in a better understanding of Hafu. Some people fear what they don’t understand and what they find ambiguous. And out of this fear, they can act in foolish ways. It might take more than one film to change the outlook of a nation, but if it changes the outlook of a few, that’s a beautiful outcome =).