Behind the Blog
Diaspora Japan's inception & future
Diaspora Japan, established in 2018, was born out of a desire to address the scarcity of diverse perspectives from the African diaspora and motivated by a driving urge to catalogue the manifold experiences of people of African descent living in Japan.
It is a photo and interview series where we sit down with Black folks from all backgrounds and walks of life who, whether temporary or permanent, transplant or native, call Japan "home".
Our storytellers share with us their impressions, experiences, and histories, digging into how by birth or migration they came to be in Japan, what their day-to-day lives consist of, and how they find ways to survive, and thrive, in Japan.
We hope this blog will act as a corpus of narratives that contributes to the vast nuance of the black experience, serving both to combat the insidious notion of a Black monolith (in Japan and abroad) and to raise awareness of Japan's multifaceted Black community.
In the interview portion, we have asked participants to expose their vulnerabilities, to tell us their stories and recount their struggles and triumphs in Japan in a largely self-guided exercise. Be it a fond memory or an anecdote that symbolizes what people living outside might not understand about the reality of being black in Japan, we graciously catalogue these stories and publish them for the world to hear.
Likewise, the directing of the photographs is left largely to the storyteller. They are free to come as they are, choosing dress and location that bear meaning to them. It can be representative of their relationship to Japan, an extension of their personality, linked to a defining hobby, or some aesthetic choice that hints at what ties the storyteller to Japan.
In recent years, there have been a handful of highly publicized incidents that have piqued curiosity and hinted at the tenuous and relationship between Japan and blackness. Ariana Miyamoto’s Miss Universe Japan 2015 victory, which was largely celebrated abroad, was met domestically with contempt. In recent memory, there were two blackface scandals: the first occurring in 2015 (Momoiro Clover Z) and the second taking place in 2017 (Masatoshi Hamada's New Year's Eve Eddie Murphy sketch) that drew international interest.
As topics like these arise, it leads us to speculate on the invisibility of blackness in eyes of Japanese society and question what humanity is afforded this, our community in Japan.
Against all odds, by some stroke of fortuity or fortitude, at any given time an estimated 25,000 Black people reside this small island country in the Pacific.
We don’t have a particular agenda with this initiative; merely the desire to give people a platform to have a voice and speak their truth.
Check in from time to time for new, full-length interviews. The #BlackinPublic street interviews are uploaded intermittently as new content is available.
Subscribe using the form below for updates sent straight to your inbox.