ハーフ the fun
Recently, I’ve been feeling stressed. That’s nothing out of the ordinary as usually when I’ve felt stressed, it has something to do with an assignment. Sure enough, I have one due on Monday, March 31 – a due date that actually provides me plenty of time. But I would like to finish it as quickly as possible, and I’ve a bit peeved at myself because I’ve had to rewrite it a couple of times. I would like to finish the assignment the Thursday prior to the deadline. Anyway…
I was really looking forward to yesterday (Saturday, March 15). Genba (who came up from Birmingham a few weeks ago to meet up with me) suggested going up to Manchester to watch a documentary titled Hafu. I’ve been dying to see that film ever since I first heard about it, so I figured it would be awesome to spend a day in Manchester hanging with Genba and watching a seemingly fascinating film.
There was just one thing: After carefully surfing the website of the Japan Society North West, it was obvious that screening of Hafu (pronounced half) wouldn’t be in Manchester (That city was actually advertised on the documentary’s Facebook page as being the venue for the screening). Instead, it would take place in the Padgate Community Centre, which is located in a nearby small town. Once I realized where the hell I was going, reaching the place didn’t seem too difficult – especially since it’s a two minute walk from the train station.
So, I hopped on a National Express bus to Manchester (It’s cheaper to go to Manchester from Leeds by bus than train) and and an hour later, I was in the city centre. With some time to spare before the train, I took a nice little stroll to the Oxford Road Railway Station. I hadn’t been in Manchester in roughly eight years, so it was obviously nice to explore the city a bit on foot.
A relatively short (and free) train ride took me to Padgate Station (I got 14 pounds worth of train credit through a website geared toward saving students money). Actually, I had a minor heart attack before getting off the train. Someone sitting around me on the train told me that the train wasn’t stopping at Padgate. Fortunately, he didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about.
The Padgate Community Centre is a rather small building that is surrounded by… well, what is it surrounded by? Fortunately, the building was very easy to find as Genba texted me some good directions. He actually showed up an hour early – which would’ve been great if the screening was in the Manchester city centre. Not so considering the venue was a bit in the middle of nowhere.
Anyway, ハーフ (Hafu) examines a major change occurring in Japan. While it seems like that people who are considered ハーフ live outside of the Japanese mainstream, the number of children born in Japan to families with a non-Japanese parent has been increasing in recent years. At last count, one in every 49 babies born in 日本 had a non-Japanese parent. That figure seems ridiculously small compared to countries like the U.S., the U.K., etc. But in Japan, it represents a major change. The documentary delves the lives of five individuals…
(Now that I think of it, it would be wise to state that the word ハーフ is the popular if not preferred term for someone in Japan who has one Japanese and one non-Japanese parent)
who are considered ハーフ. I could explain every detail of the film here but if you’re interested in Japan and have the opportunity to attend a screening, do so! Now that of I think of it, when I was in Yamagata Prefecture, I don’t think I knew too many people who would be considered ハーフ. But it’s quite possible I met several – actually, one of the people profiled in the film had a Korean father and to the naked eye, looked 100% Japanese. But she expressed concerns about being accepted if people learned about her Korean father. Genba has mentioned that I probably met some ハーフ but didn’t realize it – especially if they had a Chinese or Korean parent.
Afterwards, Genba and I took the train back to Manchester (while chatting with someone named Tim who watched ハーフ with us), where walked around the city and grabbed a bite to eat. The day in Manchester was great – but unfortunately (to make a long story short), I wasn’t able to meet up with Clare, a former co-worker of mine in Yokohama and a current resident of a Manchester suburb. I’ll just have to return to Manchester to see her.