'Living in two cultures gives one different ways of looking at things.'
Photographer Elina Moriya is proud of her Japanese and Finnish heritage. She sees her exhibition of a series of photographs of 'Nibai' 'people as a statement of tolerance'.
'No one should be judged because of their parents or cultural background or the way they look', says Elina. 'A picture can show what a person looks like, but is it enough to class them as 'halves'? What you see up front is only a reflection of what’s inside. People are always more complex and more impressive than one would think. Everyone is special and beautiful in their own way.'
Nibai meaning double is the name adopted by some who have Japanese and Finnish heritage. The Nibai organisation was started in 1997 and slowly Japanese people living in Finland started to call Finnish-Japanese people Nibais instead of half (haafu in Japanese).
'Being Finnish-Japanese is part of our identity and we live with that reality everyday,' says Elina. 'Living in two cultures gives one different ways of looking at things, so there are always at least two ways of seeing everything. That’s why everyone who has been brought up between two cultures should be called a 'double' rather than a 'half'.'
'The photographs show ordinary Nibais living in Finland: teenagers, families, sisters and brothers, friends. The people in the pictures are not famous, nor are they professional models. I tried to bring out some of their personality, energy and positive outlook, the invisible, inexplicable bond between them, the feeling of belonging that only Finnish-Japanese people share. Being different is a positive thing, it makes us strong, as long as we take it the right way and feel proud about it.'
Elina says the exhibition which was shown in Finland, 'encouraged people to reconsider what it means to call people 'half' instead of for example Finnish-Japanese. In both countries, which are both very homogenic in terms of population, people started to think what it would be like growing up with two cultures and not just one. They began
to realise what a positive thing that could be.'