Growing up in different parts of the World, and having parents from 2 different countries created an awareness in me that flowed into a journey to discover my own identity. I was strongly influenced by both of my parents, (my mother is Japanese and my father is Spanish), and this bicultural atmosphere lit a spark of curiosity within me. It was only a question of time before I took off to return to the country where I was born, and am partly from.
Everyone lives their lives to find themselves one way or another. I had this constant urge of wanting to deeply explore the country where I have relatives, and had visited so many times since I was a child. So after I graduated university in Madrid, I packed my bags and made my way back to Japan, this time to stay long term.
In modern day Japan, there are many words that classify different minorities in society. People who are half Japanese, are called ハーフ(Hafu, taken from the English word “half”) . It symbolically means that 50% of the blood that flows in your body is Japanese). But what IS being Japanese these days? Here comes the constant question of nationality vs race. Ever since the first time I was told that I was a hafu, I was desperate to know more about this word.
-“Oh, I didn’t know I could be placed in a group”, I thought, “how weirdly wonderful!” When I was a child, I had this feeling of not really belonging anywhere….but then all of a sudden, this word pops up. It must mean that there are many of “us” out there… So the fact of being a hafu became something that put some sense into my life. I feel like I am part of something!
In many occasions, or its probably better if I say constantly…people overreact…or act in an odd manner when they hear Japanese coming out of my mouth or coming out of someone who’s face doesn’t look Asian. People just freeze for 2 seconds, they don’t know what to do. Many just reply to me in English (even though I AM speaking perfect Japanese to them), or they just ask you why you can speak the language sounding natural. So after the 100th time explaining the reasons, it does start to become annoying.
We are indeed a minority, even though I’ve met a ton of other hafus here. But I guess being mixed is still “unusual”, perhaps not spoken much about? what is this tabú-like phenomenon?
Before I lived in Tokyo, I planned a project as a researcher in the multimedia science and arts area. I proposed a theme that was simple, quite observatory and not very personal. “Youth, fads and modern pop culture in Japan”. Of course, after experiencing a year in Tokyo sort of as a “foreigner” I came to realize that this theme wasn’t the one I had to explore. After 1 year, something hit me from a different angle. This urge to find myself was speaking to me.
And so, it became clear that I wanted to create something much more intimate and relevant to my identity. I had this idea of bringing together the 2 cities I consider most influential in my life, Madrid and Tokyo.