• Diaspora Japan

Wataru Chagera Miyazaki (pt. 3)

Updated: Nov 2, 2018

So you mentioned your hair. How do people usually react to it?

[laughs] I know it’s a thing for a lot of African people that they don’t want people to touch their hair, especially without permission. And a lot of Japanese people really want to touch my hair and I don’t really have any problem at all with that. They usually say things like “Oh, it feels like a poodle, or it’s really soft like wool,” and I just let it slide. But in consideration of my friends I tell them that you can touch my hair but just don’t go touching anyone else’s without permission.

I see. How do you take care of it?

As far as taking care of it goes, that is recently a big thing. Japanese hair products are generally not meant for African hair or even half African hair. In my case, Japanese hair products tend to give me dandruff problems and dry my hair out. Thanks to my sister, I just recently started caring more about my hair, I’ve learned about African products that I can get in Japan. That’s really helped a lot. But it could be a big problem for people who are living in Japan. People even say that the water is bad for African hair.

Where do you get your products?

When it’s not my sister, who is giving me all of her hand me downs, I usually get it off of the net. I can’t think of the name of the website right now but basically anything for African women’s hair. Which helps my hair to smell really nice actually.

But usually it’s my sister and my mother who get things for me.

So, a bit of a different question but, what’s home for you? And does home have to be one place?

I think what’s important to know about me is that I recognize myself as Kenyan and Japanese and Ugandan, and because of my upbringing in international schools and with mixed friends, I am very much a third culture kid. Sometimes I find myself sort of in between. I don’t identify with any one place. Which is a plus because I can relate to a lot of people. But it can also be a negative because I don’t feel like I can fully empathize with anyone.

But home, yeah that’s a tough question. I guess because of my situation the only two places that I recognize as home are the two places that my grandparents lived, the grandparents on my mother’s side and the grandparents on my father’s side. Suzuka in Mie prefecture and the other is Kampala in Uganda. And even though I didn’t grow up in Kampala Uganda it’s like a physical location where I know I have family and where I know I can return to and feel welcome. That also goes as well for the Mie area. Because of that I consider them home. But if the people ever moved, that wouldn’t be home anymore. You get what I’m saying?

Yeah. Sometimes we just have to be hermit crabs. Home might not always be a place. It could be a set of people, a feeling of safety, or mentality.

That actually brings up a very good point. And I wouldn’t go so far as to call them “home”, but my recent interactions with the hafu groups that I’m with has for the first time really made me feel a connection to group of people. Which I think is really cool because I’ve never really been a group person before. But this random group of hafu people that I would’ve never known I suddenly feel really connected to.

But even within the hafu community there different kinds of experiences. The people who grew up in Japan and who might have experienced bullying and then the ones who grew up abroad and came back to Japan to get in touch with their Japanese roots. And I feel closer to that second group. But super especially with people who are half African.

Yeah so for example there were two women that I used to work with who are half Japanese and half Kenyan. From the first moment that I met them I was like, yo these are my sisters, I love these two, I will protect them. We never really got all that close but I feel really strongly for Africa hafu kids, especially Africa-raised hafu kids. I can spot them from a mile away. Is that prejudice?

[laughs] I think that’s community. That’s really powerful.


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