Introducing Erika Nishizato…

8 18th, 2010

Hi Hafu Film friends-

Starting this month, we will be profiling some of the people who are supporting the film by offering their time and skills. We hope that this gives you a sense of the dedication and community behind the scenes. If you have been interested in supporting this film for some time, perhaps this will inspire you.

Love,

The Hafu Film Team

Introducing Erika...

Name: Erika Nicole Nishizato
Mix: Father = Japanese (from Shizuoka, half Okinawan), Mother = American (Caucasian, of European descent)
Expertise: Graphic Design
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Time spent in Japan: 2 years between ages 0-4, periodic visits growing up, 1 year at age 28 = 3 years total

You’re experience growing up as hafu: After leaving Japan as a young child I lived with my mother, stepfather, and half-sister, who were all Caucasian. We also lived in a very “white” community, so aside from biennial trips I took to Japan to visit my father’s family, I felt little connection to my Asian heritage. I even thwarted periodic attempts made by my mother to get me into Japanese language classes. In high school I became extremely irritated when called to a meeting for minorities by one of my teachers, so much so that I wrote my college admissions essay about it. I didn’t want to be seen as different, just as “American.”

Any changes as an adult?: Toward the end of college I became more interested in things Japanese, through the discipline of art history. I especially liked learning about the Meiji Era when Japan was finally opened to the West, and seeing how Japanese art influenced Western artists, and vice versa. This theme carried over into my graduate graphic design thesis several years later, which examined the mixing of American and Japanese aesthetics through the visual language of kawaii (cuteness culture), and into my subsequent Fulbright research. Living in Japan as an adult gave me a new appreciation for the duality of my cultural heritage.

Why you are supporting the film by contributing your skills?: I think this is an important topic for conversation in Japan. I have met many hafus who grew up feeling like they existed in the margins of Japanese society—a pressure that was not overtly present for me growing up in the U.S. Although being hafu has become more accepted and considered “cool” in recent years, there is still more work to be done to promote diversity.

What do you hope is the outcome of the film?: I would love to see this film aired in the United States.

More of Erika’s work: www.erikanishizato.com and www.friesandrice.com