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…

One of the first things I saw when walking around Manchester

One of the first things I saw when walking around Manchester

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.

Where I took the train from to see ハーフ

Where I took the train from to see ハーフ

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.

Welcome to the gayborhood

Welcome to the gayborhood

A building across from the Oxford Road Railway Station

A building across from the Oxford Road Railway Station

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.

I should've taken the flash off

I should’ve taken the flash off

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.

Genba and me in the Padgate Community Centre

Genba and me in the Padgate Community Centre

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.

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2 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on msamba.

  2. I do think we must have met quite a few people but not known it. The Korean/Japanese woman in the film was told to hide her Korean side and I think that was probably for the best. One of my students was half Chinese, but that was widely known, so I’m not sure if that was a problem for her. But did you know, there are third generation ‘Chinese’ or ‘Korean’ people who were born and grew up in Japan, only speaking Japanese, but are not automatically Japanese? I read about a guy who would need to apply for citizenship (of Japan), and even though he has never left the country in his life (similar to the two previous generations), he’s still considered Chinese?

    I know of, was and still am friends with quite a few people of mixed heritage. Even in Yonezawa, I learned of 5 black children, met three of them and saw a forth on two occasions. I also met a young girl who had a Brazilian father in Shirataka. A couple with one French/Japanese and the other Spanish/Japanese partner I met while they were visiting Zao’s Dragon Rock festival (or similar). I’m also friends with a few families in Kanagawa.

    In any case, I’d say ハーフ is a must watch; especially for Japanese people living in Japan.

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