I had already interviewed about 24 Dutch Japanese hāfu for Hāfu2Hāfu when a friend forwarded a link to the Hāfu Film (Hafu – the mixed-race experience in Japan).I thought I had accumulated quite some stories and experiences from all these encounters, but then realised they were relatively one-sided. 23 of ‘my’ hāfu where Dutch caucasian hāfu and most of them were born and raised in the Netherlands.
The Hāfu Film opened a whole new world for me; it projected a much more diverse image of hāfu Japanese people. David (Ghana x Japan), Alex (Mexico x Japan), Sophia (Australia x Japan), Edward (Venezuela x Japan) and Fusae (Korea x Japan). Each person in the film has a different background and therefore different experiences being hāfu.
Then, in February last year, I had the chance to meet Hāfu director Megumi Nishikura and two of it’s featured hāfus: David and Edward. We talked about their experiences and what I had learned from the 24 hāfu in my project.
It was there, at the Hapa Japan Festival in Los Angeles, that I decided to photograph hāfu with one Japanese parent and one other parent from every country in the world. The idea of a worldwide project was born. Megumi has supported this idea from the very beginning and David an Ed were kind enough be one of the first participants in the next chapter of Hāfu2Hāfu.
Now, exactly one year after the festival and about 70 portraits and questions later, I decided to watch it again.
And I learned new things, again. Every stories shared by the hāfu in the film resonated with me, more than before. Also, I realised that so many of the questions that Hāfu2Hāfu participants have asked, are related to the stories in the film. Here are just a few examples:
—> when David talks about teachers looking away when he was beaten and when Alex finally feels accepted in this new school
—> when Sophia is practicing her Japanese particles.
—> when Fusae talks about hiding here Korean heritage
Megumi and Lara, thank you for making this film and for being so supportive of Hāfu2Hāfu. I hope we can one day work together and organise an event, where we screen this important film, and where some of the Hāfu2Hāfu portraits and questions will be exhibited.