The word hāfu (ハーフ?, "half") is used in Japanese to refer to somebody who is biracial, i.e., ethnically half Japanese. The label emerged in the 1970s in Japan and is now the most commonly used and preferred term of self-definition. The word comes from the English word "half" indicating half foreign-ness.
Fashionable images of the half-Japanese people have become prominent especially with the increased appearance of hāfu in the Japanese media. Hāfu models are now seen on television or fill the pages of fashion magazines such as Non-no, CanCam and Vivi as often as newsreaders or celebrities. The appearance of hāfu in the media has provided the basis for such a vivid representation of them in the culture.
One of the earliest terms referring to half Japanese was ainoko, meaning a child born of a relationship between two races. It is still used in Latin America, most prominently Brazil (where spellings such as ainoco, ainoca (f.) and ainocô may be found), to refer to mestizo (broader Spanish sense of mixed-race in general) or mestiço people of some Japanese ancestry. Nevertheless, it evolved for an umbrella term for Eurasian or mixed Asian/mestizo, Asian/black, Asian/Arab and Asian/Indigenous heritage in general. At the same time it is possible for people with little Japanese or other Asian ancestry to be perceivable just by their phenotype to identify mostly as black, white or mestizo/pardo instead of ainoko, while people with about a quarter or less of non-Asian ancestry may identify just as Asian.
Ainoko, however, encountered social problems such as poverty, impurity and discrimination due to the negative treatment of hāfu in the 1940s in Japan. The word was gradually replaced from the late 1950s by konketsuji (混血児) which literally means a child of mixed blood.
Soon this, too, became a taboo term due to its derogatory connotations such as illegitimacy and discrimination. What were central to these labels were the emphasis on "blood impurity" and the obvious separation of the half-Japanese from the majority of Japanese. Some English-speaking parents of children of mixed ethnicity use the word "double." Amerasian is another term for children of mixed ancestry, especially those born to US military fathers and Japanese mothers.
Of the 1 million children born in Japan in 2013, 2.2% had one or more non-Japanese parent. According to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, one in forty-nine babies born in Japan today are born into families with one non-Japanese parent. Most intermarriages in Japan are between Japanese men and women from other East Asian countries, including China, Taiwan and South Korea. Southeast Asia too, also has significant populations of people with half-Japanese ancestry, particularly in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
- Cyril Takayama, magician, TV talent
- Erika Sawajiri, idol, model, actress, singer
- Christel Takigawa, television host, model
- Angela Aki, pop singer-songwriter and pianist
- Sayaka Akimoto, idol singer, dancer, actress, television host and model
- Mashu Baker, 2016 Olympic gold medallist
- Asuka Cambridge, Sprinter
- Kyoko Cox
- Harry B. Harris Jr., four-star admiral in the United States Navy
- Arata Izumi, footballer
- Jero, first black enka singer
- Yuki Kato
- Sean Lennon, musician and composer
- Ariana Miyamoto, Miss Universe Japan 2015
- Kiko Mizuhara, Model
- Isamu Noguchi, Artist, Designer
- Maria Ozawa, actress, model, and former AV idol
- Rola, model, talent and actress
- Alice Sara Ott, Pianist
- Renhō, journalist and politician, leader of the Democratic Party of Japan
- Gōtoku Sakai, footballer
- Tina Tamashiro, Model
- Eiji Wentz, singer, entertainer, and actor
- Priyanka Yoshikawa, Miss Japan 2016
- George "Joji" Miller, entertainer, singer, YouTuber
- Stefan Ishizaki, footballer
- Yu Shirota, actor and singer
- Lynn (voice actress), singer, actor and voice actress
- Shane Williamson, speed skater
- Yu Darvish, pitcher for the Texas Rangers Major League Baseball team
- Megumi Nakajima, voice actress, singer
- Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi, President of the Pan-European Union and count of Coudenhove-Kalergi
Hāfu in popular culture
- Aya Brea
- Giorno Giovanna
- Josuke Higashikata
- Jotaro Kujo
- Kazuhira Miller
- Mikaela Hyakuya
- Mikasa Ackerman
- Takumi Usui
- Tamaki Suoh
- Tsuna Sawada
- Trunks (Dragon Ball)
- Krieger, Daniel (29 November 2010). "The whole story on being 'hafu'". CNN. Retrieved 2011-04-12.
- Navidi, Nooshin (22 June 2010). "Hafu draws viewers into world of Japanese identity". Japan Times. Retrieved 2011-04-12.
- Yamada, Mio (28 February 2009). "Hafu focuses on whole individual". Japan Times. Retrieved 2011-04-12.
- Fujioka, Brett (14 January 2011). "The Other Hafu of Japan". Rafu Shimpo. Retrieved 2011-04-12.
- "Growing Up Different but Never Alienated". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
- Japan and Global Migration: Foreign Workers and the Advent of a ... - Mike Douglass, Glenda Susan Roberts - Google Books. Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
- American Mixed Race: The Culture of Microdiversity - Naomi Zack - Google Books. Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
- Kosaka, Kristy (2009-01-27). "Half, bi or double? One family's trouble". Japan Times. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
- "About the film | Hafu". hafufilm.com. Retrieved 2016-09-14.
- "Being 'hafu' in Japan: Mixed-race people face ridicule, rejection". Retrieved 2017-05-01.
- "Documentary shows hardships of mixed-race individuals in Japan - AJW by The Asahi Shimbun". Ajw.asahi.com. Archived from the original on 2013-10-13. Retrieved 2013-10-20.
- Shoji, Kaori. "Double the trouble, twice the joy for Japan's hafu". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2013-10-20.
- Hafu Film
- The Hafu Project - By artist Natalie Maya Willer and researcher Marcia Yumi Lise
- Hapa Japan
- "“This Is Who I Am”: Jero, Young, Gifted, Polycultural" -(Fellezs 2012)
- Die Kreuzungsstelle - A voices of half Japanese, mixed race/multiracial or multiethnic persons.
- Biracial Beauty Queen Challenges Japan’s Self-Image, NYT