Our Motivation

3 20th, 2010

Our motivation for making this film.

From: Lara Perez Takagi
Spanish (father) x Japanese (mother)

Growing up in different countries and having been strongly influence by both of my parents, it was always clear to me that they wanted me to know my roots and where they were originally from. They worked hard on equally representing themselves within the household. This atmosphere ignited a spark of curiosity within me from a very young age.  Having lived in United States, Spain and Australia, (United States and Australia are very multicultural and considered neutral spots), it was only a question of time before I took off to return to the country where I was born–Japan. I also wanted to meet other hafus and see whether there were other people like me out there–people who came to Japan to see what it was like to live as a hafu.

Being a hafu has always been something very relevant in my life. It is always surprising to notice the overreaction people would have in Japan when they discovered that first of all I wasn’t a complete foreigner, second of all I can speak the language without an accent, and third, in mentioning that my mother is Japanese. This reaction has always been so pure in comparison to other countries, that it became something I have always wanted to study and observe in depth. When I entered graduate school in Japan, my project research theme was more observatory and less personal. After living in Tokyo for a few months and meeting other hafus, it became clear that I wanted to create something much more intimate and relevant to my identity. This was when I created «Madrid x Tokyo»–an audiovisual piece that brings Spain and Japan close together by exploring the differences and similarities between the two nations.

After screening «Madrid x Tokyo» many people asked me about my next projects.  I knew that I wanted to focus more specifically on hafus next. «Madrid x Tokyo» became the stating point to create something bigger, stronger and deeper in regards to Hafu’s in Japan. It is true that there are many social communities and events where Hafus gather, also it is common to spot celebrities on TV who are mixed race Japanese, but It is very rare to find audiovisual pieces that study this socio-cultural phenomenon in depth. We are considered a recent and unique minority that is rapidly growing as globalization is more and more present these days. This is the reason why my intention to create this documentary is very strong. It will become a tool to socially spread and introduce this rapidly increasing new minority in Japan.

From: Megumi Nishikura
Japanese (father) x Irish-American (mother)

As a hafu child growing up in Japan, I was stared at, teased, and called a “foreigner” or “half-human.” Somehow, I had the awareness that this was just childhood antics and laughed it off-never letting it penetrate too deeply.  Luckily, through family friends and attending international schools I was never far from the company of other hafus. When I left Japan for high school and university in the US, I noticed how people approached me differently than they had in Japan. People would ask out of curiosity, “What are you?” They seemed far more open-minded and sincerely interested in my diverse make-up.

In film school at New York University’s Tisch School of Arts, I explored my “hafu” identity through several video and audio projects. Upon graduating, I worked in the documentary film industry in both New York and Los Angeles for a few years. In 2004, I received the Armed with Camera Fellowship from Visual Communications, an Asian-American arts organization. Through the fellowship, I produced a short film about how my passion for peace (circa Iraq-war beginnings) stemmed directly from being the granddaughter of people who had once fought on opposite sides of World War II.

In 2006, when I returned to Japan to attend graduate school, I was confronted as an adult to reexamine what it means to Japanese and a hafu. With a “look” that is not even perceived as the “hafu-look” by Japanese, I am often complimented on the level of my Japanese language ability. When Japanese people meet me for the first time it is often to their disbelief that someone with my name—a  fully Japanese one—could look so foreign to them. There have also been occasions where Japanese my name in written down in katakana- an alphabet that is reserved for foreign words and foreigners. Something that makes me deeply feel that I am not accepted as Japanese national.

This film is my exploration through the lives of other hafus about what it means to be a hafu. It is about the Japanese part of in all of us and our desire to be recognized as a whole person-beautiful complex and real. I know this film will only tell a small slice of the myriad of experiences that hafus have but what I hope for is that when young hafu boys and girls growing up watch this film, they will feel a sense of comfort and a sense of “it’s okay to be who I am,.” Perhaps, they will even feel a sense of pride or excitement at the possibilities of who they can be-the best of both worlds. It’s film that I wish I had seen growing up.

It is also a film for the Japanese people. I believe Japan is changing. This film is my prayer to the Japanese to begin this dialogue and embrace this change.