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Hafu cover photo

Hafu 2013


Distributed by Third World Newsreel, 545 Eighth Avenue, Suite 550, New York, NY 10018; 212-947-9277
Producer n/a
Directed by Megumi Nishikura and Lara Perez Takagi
DVD , color, 88 min.

High School - General Adult
Children, Discrimination, Diversity, Education, Family, Language, Multiculturalism, Sociology

Date Entered: 07/30/2015

Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

Once considered ethnically homogenous with very little racial or cultural diversity, the face of Japan is in the process of changing. Currently, one in 49 children born in the island nation is half-Japanese or hafu. While many of those with ‘mixed roots’ would like to explore or fully embrace the Japanese side of their heritage, the dominant culture still sees them as outsiders or foreigners. This documentary looks at the stories of five hafus, for whom Japan essentially remains a closed society, discussing both their desire to be accepted as Japanese and the difficulty of being so.

David raises funds to build schools in his mother’s home country of Ghana, Sophia comes to Japan from Australia to learn the language and culture of one set of relatives, 9 year old Alex struggles to fit into public school where he is teased for his language and academic skills, half-Korean Fusae feels she must hide her non-Japanese roots to be accepted and find a husband, and Ed creates a Mixed Roots Kansai community where other hafus can gather for support and acceptance. All personally experience discrimination and bias, while at the same time helping to build a different Japan for the future.

Narrated through interviews with the five participants and their families, the film seeks to answer questions about the hafu experience and how Japan is adjusting to a more multicultural population.

Recommended for general audiences and for libraries that support diversity and multicultural education programs.