Film Project Spotlights the Hafu (Half-Japanese) Experience

What is it like to be half-Japanese in Japan, a country which once proudly declared itself a mono-ethnic nation? Three multicultural filmmakers are currently making a documentary to explore this in their film, Hafu. The film highlights the lives of 5 half-Japanese people in their journey to discovery their identities and what it means to be of mixed race.

Statistics from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare indicate that 1 in 30 Japanese babies born today are born to a parent where at least one is not Japanese. Hafu strives to document this emerging minority by showing the positives and negatives that come along with the struggle for acceptance and self-empowerment.

Beyond the storyline about the half-Japanese experience lays a universal theme of people’s desire to find approval from society and within ourselves.

To complete the project, the filmmakers require 1 million yen or approximately 10,000 US dollars by December 11 to cover post-production costs. If you’d like to support this film, please visit Donors will receive presents in exchange for their support. For example, donors may be given a copy of the book, a DVD, etc.

Meet the Hafus

Here are the 5 Hafus documented in the film. The descriptions and photos are from the Hafu film website.

David (Ghana x Japan) David was born in Ghana and at age of 6 moved to Tokyo with his family. His parents divorced when he was 10. The next 8 years were spent in an orphanage with his two brothers. When David went back to Ghana for the first time in his early 20s, he realized how blessed he was to have grown up in Japan. He is now determined to build a school back in Ghana and get in touch with this other side.


Edward (Venezuela x Japan) was raised entirely by his Japanese mom in Japan.  Because he went through the international school system, he never felt he was truly part of Japanese society. In 2006 with boom of social network services, Ed began connecting with other Hafus and formed Mixed Roots Kansai, which is now one of the most established multi-cultural communities in Japan. He is now working towards creating a large academic discourse on multicultural Japan.

(Korea x Japan) was born and raised in Kobe, Japan, to a Korean Japanese father, a naturalized Japanese citizen, and a Japanese mother. She learnt of her Korean roots when she was 16 from her mother- a traumatic experience for her at the time. 18 years later she is still struggling to redefine her place in society as a Korean/Japanese descendant.

The Oi Family (Mexico x Japan). Gaby and Tetsu decided to send their son Alex (9) and daughter Sara (7) to Japanese elementary school. However, Alex began showing physical symptoms of stress due to the teasing he receives from his classmates for being a Hafu. His parents have made the tough decision of sending him to the expensive international school. Alex will begin at his new school in August while Sara will continue to at Japanese school. Through the Oi’s, this film will explore the tough decisions parents have to make in raising multicultural children.

Sophia (Australia x Japan) Raised entirely in Sydney, at 27, Sophia decided it was now or never for her to explore her Japanese heritage and arrived to Tokyo leaving behind friends and family. Will Japan live up to expectations she’s held for so long? Will she be able to integrate? Ultimately how will she identify after some time here?

For more info: Visit to find out more about the Hafu documentary.

  • Asianmommy

    Looks like an interesting film.

  • Emily

    Fascinating! This subject seems to be in the air…

  • Maureen | Tatter Scoops

    That sounds like a very interesting movie! Thanks for sharing the info, Maria :)

  • divasupermum

    looks amazing, what an interesting idea

  • Veronica @ Mixed Gems

    Sounds really fascinating. I remember from my visits to Japan realising how homogenous it was. Even Singapore, where I spent some of my childhood, is quite a diverse place, as is Australia.

  • Leslie

    What an interesting project! I’d love to see this documentary… hope it gets the funding.

  • hiraganamama

    Great write-up of a good cause :)

  • April

    So interesting!

  • Anonymous

    Hafu, sounds like half in Japanese!

    In the USA, there is a product called’Half and Half’.

  • Jill

    Super interesting.