The Hafu Project is an ongoing initiative that creates a dialogue about being a "hafu" in Japan. By increasing discussions on culture, "race" and ethnicity we hope to achieve a deeper understanding of these issues.
"Our shared interest in half Japanese identity inherently stems from our experience of being in between different cultures. Like many other half Japanese people we have been making an enquiry into our mixed cultural experience. This questioning of our own identity has its roots in our appearance and 'mixed' upbringing as well as how we sit in the racially designated society we live in."
Natalie's fascination with this subject mainly stems from her own experience and frustration of being very fair, almost blonde half Japanese who has never been instantly recognised as half Japanese. Natalie has found it very easy to spot other fellow half Japanese people and thinks that there is definitely a 'half Japanese look', which she further explores in her visual work. She uses photography as the medium to study and represent this ethnically mixed group.
On the other hand, Marcia was raised in Japan where she constantly experienced being treated as non-Japanese despite her Japanese upbringing, which was also frustrating. With her somewhat fair phenotype, frizzy hair, tall and non-petite body she stood out from the 'mainstream Japanese look'. Yet it was important not to stand out to fit in, which is a part of Japanese culture. Having experienced being 'othered' in Japan, the question of why Japanese society finds it hard to consider her as an 'ordinary Japanese' person was an issue always on her agenda.
The Photography/Interviews has been influenced and inspired by Kip Fulbeck's "The Hapa Project" as well as Walter Schels and Beate Lakotta's "Life before Death" series and we are thankful for their work being out there.