Two Halves Of A Whole: On Japan’s Habitual ‘Labeling’ Of Bicultural Kids

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive on 2017-03-21 01:10Z by Steven

Two Halves Of A Whole: On Japan’s Habitual ‘Labeling’ Of Bicultural Kids

Savvy Tokyo
2017-03-15

Louise George Kittaka

Half Or Double, It’s About Time We Let Them Speak For Themselves

In Japan, Japanese are nihonjin and foreigners are gaikokujin and never the twain shall meet. But what does this mean for our bicultural offsprings?

The term hafu (literally, half) is commonly used in Japan for anyone who has one Japanese parent and one from another cultural background or nationality. The term grates on many foreign parents because it implies that the non-Japanese side of their background somehow renders them “incomplete.”

I certainly disliked the term when I became a mom for the first time following the birth of my son. I spent a lot of time and energy earnestly asking people, friends and strangers alike, to refer to my child as “daburu” or “double.” I even wrote an article for a bilingual magazine, entitled “Please Don’t Call My Baby a ‘Half’” and advocating for the use of the term “double” instead.

Looking back at the article now, I cringe inwardly. By the time the second of my two daughters arrived to complete my trio of kids, I was beginning to tire of the “what to call bicultural children” conversation. I began to think, “Why do we need to label them at all? They are kids who just happen to have parents from two different backgrounds. Get over it already!” Older and wiser, I now know that it isn’t that simple…

Read the entire article here.

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Memories of race: representations of mixed race people in girls’ comic magazines in post-occupation Japan

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-03-14 23:18Z by Steven

Memories of race: representations of mixed race people in girls’ comic magazines in post-occupation Japan

Sayuri Arai

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
2016-11-30

As the number of mixed race people grows in Japan, anxieties about miscegenation in today’s context of intensified globalization continue to increase. Indeed, the multiracial reality has recently gotten attention and led to heightened discussions surrounding it in Japanese society, specifically, in the media. Despite the fact that race mixing is not a new phenomenon even in “homogeneous” Japan, where the presence of multiracial people has challenged the prevailing notion of Japaneseness, racially mixed people have been a largely neglected group in both scholarly literature and in wider Japanese society.

My dissertation project offers a remedy for this absence by focusing on representations of mixed race people in postwar Japanese popular culture. During and after the U.S. Occupation of Japan (1945-1952), significant numbers of racially mixed children were born of relationships between Japanese women and American servicemen. American-Japanese mixed race children, as products of the occupation, reminded the Japanese of their war defeat. Miscegenation and mixed race people came to be problematized in the immediate postwar years.

In the 1960s, when Japan experienced the postwar economic miracle and redefined itself as a great power, mixed race Japanese entertainers (e.g., models, actors, and singers) became popular. This popularity of multiracial entertainers created a konketsuji boom (mixed-blood boom) in Japanese media and popular culture. As such, the images and stereotypes of racially mixed people shifted considerably from the 1950s into the 1970s.

Through a close textual analysis of representations of mixed race stars and characters in major Japanese girls’ comic magazines published during the 1950s and 1960s, my dissertation illuminates the ways in which the meanings of mixed race people shifted from strongly negative to ambivalent, or even positive, in the context of postwar economic growth. Closely looking at the changing U.S.-Japan relations in the aftermath of World War II and in the Cold War context, this project provides insight into the ways in which memories of World War II and of the U.S. Occupation are reconstructed through representations of mixed race people in Japanese media and popular culture in postwar Japan.

As this dissertation project suggests, girls’ comic magazines are one of the few pivotal spaces where issues of race mixing in postwar Japan are allowed to be openly and regularly discussed, and where a wide range of multiracial people are portrayed in imaginative ways. As I argue, in the early post-occupation years, the overrepresentation of Black-Japanese occupation babies in girls’ comic magazines inadvertently contributed to foisting the blame of the former Western Occupation onto Black bodies and to reconstructing the image of the West.

Subsequently, during the 1960s, the whiteness of mixed race stars and characters, glorified in consumerist media culture, greatly contributed to overshadowing the image of the West as the former enemy and to dissociating racially mixed people from the stigma of being “occupation babies,” intimately entangled with the memory of Japan’s defeat in World War II.

My dissertation demonstrates that representations of racially mixed people in girls’ comic magazines played a crucial role in remaking the meanings of mixed race Japanese and reconstructing memories of World War II and the U.S. Occupation, in part because girls’ comic magazines have elaborated a distinct aesthetics, ethics, and worldview shaped within girls’ culture.

Login to read the dissertation here.

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Definitive Hapa Japan Books To Launch In LA

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive, United States on 2017-02-26 23:37Z by Steven

Definitive Hapa Japan Books To Launch In LA

Kaya Press
Los Angeles, California
2017-02-15

Kaya Press is thrilled to announce the official publication of Hapa Japan: History Vol. 1 and Hapa Japan: History Vol. 2 edited by Duncan Ryūken Williams.

Described by Ruth Ozeki as “essential reading for all citizens of our transcultural, transnational, boundless, borderless, beautifully mixed-up world,” these volumes bring together scholarship on the rich historical and contemporary experiences and representations of global Hapa Japanese…

Read the entire press release here.

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Hapa Japan: History (Volume 2)

Posted in Anthologies, Asian Diaspora, Books, Communications/Media Studies, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2017-02-26 22:17Z by Steven

Hapa Japan: History (Volume 2)

Kaya Press
2017-02-28
400 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9781885030542

Edited by:

Duncan Ryūken Williams, Associate Professor of Religion and East Asian Languages and Cultures
University of Southern California

The film Kiku and Isamu (1959) was one of the first cinematic depictions of mixed-race children in postwar Japan, telling the story of two protagonists facing abandonment by two different Black GI fathers and ostracism from Japanese society. Bringing together studies of the representations of the Hapa Japanese experience in culture, Hapa Japan: Identities & Representations (Volume 2) tackles everything from Japanese and American films like Kiku and Isamu to hybrid graphic novels featuring mixed-race characters. From Muslim Japanese-Pakistani children in a Tokyo public school to “Blasian” youth at the AmerAsian School close to a US military base in Okinawa, the Hapa experience is multiple, and its cultural representations accordingly are equally diverse. This anthology is the first publication to attempt to map this wide range of Hapa representations in film, art and society.

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Hapa Japan: History (Volume 1)

Posted in Anthologies, Asian Diaspora, Books, History, Media Archive on 2017-02-26 21:59Z by Steven

Hapa Japan: History (Volume 1)

Kaya Press
2017-02-28
500 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9781885030535

Edited by:

Duncan Ryūken Williams, Associate Professor of Religion and East Asian Languages and Cultures
University of Southern California

The history and experiences of mixed-race Japan have long remained almost invisible in a country that believes in its own myths of homogeneity, despite a history that extends backwards to the 8th-century emperor Kammu Tenno (who was part Korean) through to Japan’s first female physician (part German) during the 19th century, and forward to the present day, when 1 of every 30 Japanese babies are born to families with one non-Japanese parent. Hapa Japan: History (Volume 1) is the first substantial collection of essays to survey the history of global mixed-race identities of persons of Japanese descent. Edited by Duncan Ryuken Williams, the founder of the Hapa Japan Database Project, this groundbreaking work unsettles binary and simplistic notions of race by making visible the complex lives of individuals often written out of history.

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Redefining Japaneseness: Japanese Americans in the Ancestral Homeland

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science, United States on 2017-02-06 02:36Z by Steven

Redefining Japaneseness: Japanese Americans in the Ancestral Homeland

Rutgers University Press
2017-01-24
224 pages
6 x 9
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8135-7637-4
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8135-7636-7
Web PDF ISBN: 978-0-8135-7639-8
ePub ISBN: 978-0-8135-7638-1

Jane H. Yamashiro, Visiting Scholar
Asian American Studies Center
University of California, Los Angeles

There is a rich body of literature on the experience of Japanese immigrants in the United States, and there are also numerous accounts of the cultural dislocation felt by American expats in Japan. But what happens when Japanese Americans, born and raised in the United States, are the ones living abroad in Japan?

Redefining Japaneseness chronicles how Japanese American migrants to Japan navigate and complicate the categories of Japanese and “foreigner.” Drawing from extensive interviews and fieldwork in the Tokyo area, Jane H. Yamashiro tracks the multiple ways these migrants strategically negotiate and interpret their daily interactions. Following a diverse group of subjects—some of only Japanese ancestry and others of mixed heritage, some fluent in Japanese and others struggling with the language, some from Hawaii and others from the US continent—her study reveals wide variations in how Japanese Americans perceive both Japaneseness and Americanness.

Making an important contribution to both Asian American studies and scholarship on transnational migration, Redefining Japaneseness critically interrogates the common assumption that people of Japanese ancestry identify as members of a global diaspora. Furthermore, through its close examination of subjects who migrate from one highly-industrialized nation to another, it dramatically expands our picture of the migrant experience.

Table Of Contents

  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Note on Terminology
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Japanese as a Global Ancestral Group: Japaneseness on the US Continent, Hawaii, and Japan
  • 3. Differentiated Japanese American Identities: The Continent Versus Hawaii
  • 4. From Hapa to Hafu: Mixed Japanese American Identities in Japan
  • 5. Language and Names in Shifting Assertions of Japaneseness
  • 6. Back in the United States: Japanese American Interpretations of Their Experiences in Japan
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix A: Methodology: Studying Japanese American Experiences in Tokyo
  • Appendix B: List of Japanese American Interviewees Who Have Lived in Japan
  • Notes
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Uchinanchu: The Art of Laura Kina

Posted in Arts, Asian Diaspora, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2016-09-28 20:35Z by Steven

Uchinanchu: The Art of Laura Kina

Kwan Fong Gallery of Art and Culture
California Lutheran University
120 Memorial Parkway
Thousand Oaks, California 91360
2016-05-23

On view: June 10–October 30, 2016
Artist’s Talk: Thursday, September 29, 2016 | 6 p.m. PDT


Image: Laura Kina, Hello Kitty, acrylic on canvas and denim, assorted fabrics, t-shirts from the artist’s daughter Midori Aronson, 57 x 56 inches, 2015.

Uchinanchu is the term for Okinawan immigrants and their descendants from the Japanese island living in Hawai’i. This exhibit presents patchwork and textile-based paintings by Laura Kina through moving autobiographical pieces that examine mixed race identities, indigenous communities, colonization, and globalized pop culture–all in the form of traditional craft practices. Images feature deconstructed articles of clothing, from fleeting moments and memories of specific events to time-honored symbols.

Kina explains,

“My artwork focuses on themes of distance, belonging and cultural reclamation… Taken together, the works are about islands of diaspora and explore themes of transnational family ties and heritage tourism, mixed-ness, ethnic pride and solidarity, military and colonial histories, and current geopolitical military/environment issues in Okinawa and Hawai’i.”

Kina is Vincent de Paul Professor of Art, Media, & Design at DePaul University in Chicago and co-founder of the biennial Critical Mixed Race Studies conference. She co-authored War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art (University of Washington Press, 2013) and acts as reviews editor for Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas. She is working on a forthcoming anthology Queering Contemporary Asian American Art. Her work has been widely exhibited in galleries and museums nationally and internationally, including in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and the Japanese American National Museum.

For more information, click here.

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The untold stories of Japanese war brides

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-09-23 19:59Z by Steven

The untold stories of Japanese war brides

The Washington Post
2016-09-22

Kathryn Tolbert, Deputy Editor


Hiroko and Bill with Kathy, left, Sam and Susan. The video is the trailer to a short documentary film, “Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides,” which features Hiroko and two other war brides.

They married the enemy, then created uniquely American lives

I thought she was beautiful, although I never understood why she plucked her eyebrows off and penciled them on every morning an inch higher. She had been captain of her high school basketball team in Japan, and she ran circles around us kids on a dirt court in our small town in Upstate New York. I can still see this Japanese woman dribbling madly about, yelling “Kyash! Kyash!” That’s how she said Kath, or Kathy.

She married my American GI father barely knowing him. She moved from Tokyo to a small poultry farm just outside Elmira, N.Y., and from there she delivered eggs all over the county and into Pennsylvania. My sister describes her as having a “core of steel.” She raised us as determinedly as any mother could, and yet, looking back, I barely knew her.

Some people think the film I co-directed, “Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides,” is a paean to loving Japanese mothers. When one interviewer suggested as much to me and fellow director Karen Kasmauski, we exchanged a look that said, “Shall we tell him the truth?” The film, titled after a Japanese proverb, is about strong women, for sure. Warm and loving mothers? No.

So who are these women and what do we, their children, know about them?…

Read the entire article here.

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From White to Yellow: The Japanese in European Racial Thought, 1300-1735

Posted in Books, Europe, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2016-08-22 23:44Z by Steven

From White to Yellow: The Japanese in European Racial Thought, 1300-1735

McGill-Queen’s University Press
November 2014
712 Pages, 6 x 9
32 b&w photos
ISBN: 9780773544550

Rotem Kowner, Professor
Department of Asian Studies
University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa, Israel

An examination of the evolution of European racial views of the Japanese.

When Europeans first landed in Japan they encountered people they perceived as white-skinned and highly civilized, but these impressions did not endure. Gradually the Europeans’ positive impressions faded away and Japanese were seen as yellow-skinned and relatively inferior.

Accounting for this dramatic transformation, From White to Yellow is a groundbreaking study of the evolution of European interpretations of the Japanese and the emergence of discourses about race in early modern Europe. Transcending the conventional focus on Africans and Jews within the rise of modern racism, Rotem Kowner demonstrates that the invention of race did not emerge in a vacuum in eighteenth-century Europe, but rather was a direct product of earlier discourses of the “Other.” This compelling study indicates that the racial discourse on the Japanese, alongside the Chinese, played a major role in the rise of the modern concept of race. While challenging Europe’s self-possession and sense of centrality, the discourse delayed the eventual consolidation of a hierarchical worldview in which Europeans stood immutably at the apex.

Drawing from a vast array of primary sources, From White to Yellow traces the racial roots of the modern clash between Japan and the West.

Table of Contents

  • Figures
  • Note on Translations and Conventions
  • Acknowledgments
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • PHASE ONE SPECULATION: Pre-Encounter Knowledge of the Japanese (1300-1543)
    • 1 The Emergence of “Cipangu” and Its Precursory Ethnography
    • 2 The “Cipanguese” at the Opening of the Age of Discovery
  • PHASE TWO OBSERVATION: A Burgeoning Discourse of Initial Encounters (1543-1640)
    • 3 Initial Observations of the Japanese
    • 4 The Japanese Position in Contemporary Hierarchies
    • 5 Concrete Mirrors of a New Human Order
    • 6 “Race” and Its Cognitive Limits during the Phase of Observation
  • PHASE THREE RECONSIDERATION: Antecedents of a Mature Discourse (1640-1735)
    • 7 Dutch Reappraisal of the Japanese Body and Origins
    • 8 Power, Status, and the Japanese Position in the Global Order
    • 9 In Search of a New Taxonomy: Botany, Medicine, and the Japanese
    • 10 “Race” and Its Perceptual Limits during the Phase of Reconsideration
  • Conclusion: The Discourse of Race in Early Modern Europe and the Japanese Case
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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‘War Brides of Japan’ To Take Focus in New Documentary

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-08-22 23:18Z by Steven

‘War Brides of Japan’ To Take Focus in New Documentary

NBC News
2016-08-10

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

Journalist and filmmaker Yayoi Lena Winfrey is looking for more Japanese “war brides” to interview as she completes the filming for her feature-length documentary film, “War Brides of Japan.” With many of these women in their mid-80s, Winfrey said that time is critical to document their stories. With interviews already scheduled for 11 and their adult children in eight cities and three states this month, Winfrey hopes to find more women and families to interview along the way…

According to Winfrey, approximately 50,000 “war brides” came to the United States from Japan starting in 1947. Many were disowned by their families for marrying those who had bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki and then occupied Japan, Winfrey said. Others were rejected by their American in-laws for being foreigners. Some were abandoned by the American servicemen who married them while some were also ostracized by the Japanese-American community, only just released from the incarceration camps of World War II. Some were falsely stereotyped as prostitutes, while others were blamed for causing World War II, she said…

Read the entire article here.

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