What is Hāfu?
Hāfu/haafu is the commonly used Japanese word to refer to somebody who is biracial. The label emerged in the 1970s and comes from the English word ‘half’, referring to the half foreign and half Japanese-ness. Hāfu is the widely accepted self-definition for half Japanese people and is frequently used in introductions.
What does it mean to be hāfu, how do hāfu relate to Japan or the other country and how does being hāfu define their identity? Hāfu2Hāfu is a personal investigatory project by Tetsuro Miyazaki, a 38 year old half Japanse / half Belgian photographer living in the Netherlands. He wanted to know what defined the identity of hāfu, what they have in common and what separates them from each other? His ultimate question was another question: what would they want to ask each other.
Hāfu2Hāfu is a series of photographic portraits and interviews of half Japanese. At the end of each interview and before the photo is taken, every hāfu has the opportunity to ask one question to the viewer (other hāfu, their families, friends).
The portrayed hāfu is asked to think of this question whilst being photographed. Black and white portraits in combination with questions give a unique look into the hearts of half Japanese people and raise questions about advantages, privileges, opportunities, difficulties, belonging and wanting to belong to two different societies.
Hāfu from 192 countries – After having photographed mainly hāfu in the Netherlands, Hāfu2Hāfu will expand to the rest of the world. In order to present a complete image of being hāfu, I will try to document portraits and questions of hāfu of different ages, genders, places of residence and of all 192 combinations of nationalities with Japanese (there are 193 sovereign countries).
Publish or expose – I hope this project results in more mutual understanding amongst hāfu, their parents and their (non) Japanese friends or colleagues. I would like to exhibit Hāfu2Hāfu, give presentations and debate about the outcomes of the interviews. Publishing these photos and questions would equally help me to get these stories told.
Broadening – I’d like to meet hāfu from other countries. Also, we could reverse the idea and photograph hāfu from various countries in one particular Japanese city, region or prefecture.
- Participants: Are you half Japanese, and would you like to participate in the project? Please send me a message via the form below or look for a participation form. Since I live in the Netherlands, that part of Europe as well as Tokyo would be the most logical places for me to work. But also if you live in a far away country, just send me a message, because who knows what happens in the future.
- Translator: We want this project to reach as many people as possible. Both inside and outside of Japan. Unfortunately my written Japanese is not good enough to translate questions by hāfu and information about this project. If you are a native Japanese speaker and you want to contribute by translating part of this project, please contact me via the contact form below.
- Partners: For the completion of this project, I am looking all kinds of partnerships with individuals, governmental and non governmental institutions, communities or companies that would benefit from having these stories shared and documented for the future.
Possible forms of partnerships include financial support, (photography) hardware, travel allowance, exposure and access to your network within the Japanese intercultural institutions.
Duncan Williams – The Hapa Japan Project founder and Hapa Japan Festival organizer
The Hapa Japan Database Project at the University of Southern California’s Ito Center supports Hāfu2Hāfu’s new initiative to photograph mixed roots people of Japanese heritage from every nation in the world and create a dialogue between them. This ambitious project directed by Tetsuro Miyazaki will not only engage our social network in the process of its development, but we are looking forward to learning more about how questions of identity, belonging, and connecting are engaged by people from around the world. Going beyond the boundaries and walls of single nation states, the capturing global hafu representations is critical initiative in the increasingly multiethnic world of the 21st century.
In a nutshel:
|Lived in||the Netherlands|
|Visited Japan||15 - 20 x|
|Lived in Japan||2 years|
|Reading and Writing||⚫⚫⚪⚪⚪|
To get in touch, please use the contact form below.
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