Hafu/Half Japanese Main Page

Photographs & Interviews

01

My Japanese-ness is as large as my British-ness although in a way it's the secret part of myself because I'm not recognised as Japanese. It's like a secret dream, a secret fantasy I have.


I feel like Japan belongs to me but Japan doesn't feel like I belong to it. Japan's part of my heart and my existence but Japan doesn't recognise me so I don't feel like we have the same relationship with each other.


I feel that I'm quite Japanese too in the way I think and in the things I do. Things I'm comfortable with and things that I enjoy doing often have a Japanese bent to them.

Tanya Akiko Cornish

Mother: Japanese
Father: British
Place of birth: East London (UK)
Raised in: East London (UK)



02

I was born and raised in Tokyo. My mentality and behaviour is really Japanese. But there's something comfortable about speaking in English and to be with people from Europe so I can't really say I'm totally Japanese. I've constantly been treated differently by Japanese people and I feel like I have some resistance to belonging to somewhere. I feel like I belong to my family. I don't feel like I belong to Japan or to Sweden.


In terms of how I look I think when I'm out of Japan I look more Japanese and when I'm in Japan I look non-Japanese. I've had people say I'm Spanish, Brazilian, Turkish, Italian, British, maybe Iranian, Asian, Japanese and Korean.

Hitomi Kaj Yoda

Mother: Swedish
Father: Japanese
Place of birth: Tokyo (Japan)
Raised in: Tokyo (Japan)



03

I'm treated as a foreigner both in Japan and in Germany. I feel that maybe from the Japanese people's point of view I am not Japanese. And I'm not German in the eye of a German person either.


I feel that being a hafu in Japan has been favourable. There are good-looking hafu models and athletes so people take an interest in me. In Japan people have a good image of hafus. It is nice to be able to have that international-ness too. People don't notice that I'm a hafu because I think I look quite Japanese. I've had them say that I looked Filipino and Russian. Maybe because these are countries in between Germany and Japan.

Maya Christ Sakuma

Mother: Japanese
Father: German
Place of birth: Tokyo (Japan)
Raised in: Tokyo (Japan)



04

I've had people say “Oh my god you speak Japanese, kimochiwarui (creepy)” You look like a complete foreigner but you're speaking seemingly fluent Japanese. It's obviously a mismatch. I feel a bit annoyed people are so surprised about it but it's only because they're tripping on your foreign looking-ness.


People think I'm Hispanic, Kazak, Turkish or a terrorist… When I was in western China they thought I was one of the Muslim hill tribes. When I was in South America people thought I was from South America.



Roland Hideaki Playle

Mother: Japanese
Father: British
Place of birth: North London (UK)
Raised in: North London (UK),
Tokyo (Japan)


05

I'm born and bred in London. My mum's Australian. My dad's Japanese. I've never lived in Japan. My mum is a trained potter and lived in Japan and when she met my father. He then came to the UK but then they split before I was one. My mum got together with the person I consider my dad. He's from New Zealand and he brought me up. I had a lot of Japanese influence in my life through my mum, which is strange. It's kind of back to front.


I always feel English. I feel like I'm a Londoner. So that always comes first. But then sometimes I go “ah actually I'm not English”. I have a feeling of being of the world. I'm interested in the world, people, cultures and language. I actually feel at home in lots of places. I find that I can move around groups. My identity generally is about being an outsider in everything.

Amy Woodrow Arai

Mother: Australian
Father: Japanese
Place of birth: South London (UK)
Raised in: South London (UK)


06

I haven't visited America for so many years that my perception of the US has been fossilized since the late 1980s. Being a journalist, I chased after Eurasia for a while, in search of a greater trans-national connection, and got exhausted with minding other people's businesses. I've spent so many years trying to single-handedly open up Japan to the outside world from my own corner. Sometimes I wonder if it was even worth it, but other times I have a glowing feeling that this was and still is the right path for me.


Right now, I'm okay with being partly onigiri (rice ball) and partly apple pie. The chaos in my background and internal cultural clashes have focused me as an artist much more than if I were mono-cultural, and I thank my destiny for that.

Morley Robertson

Mother: Japanese
Father: American
Place of birth: New York (USA)
Raised in: San Francisco, North Carolina (USA), Hiroshima, Toyama (Japan)


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