Haruka Kikuchi


April 3, 2017


How old are you?

I am 30 years old.

How long have you been in New Orleans?

I moved to New Orleans in January of 2014 so it’s already three years.

Where are you from originally?

Tokyo, Japan.

What brought you here?

I am a huge fan of the music of New Orleans. Before I moved here, I visited seven or eight times. It was one of the big dreams in my life. Finally I got a visa and moved here.

Why are you still here?

I want to be a New Orleans musician and to play the music naturally. It’s not just on the stage. Music is life. I’ve stayed here because I’m still learning about the music and the lifestyle.

What things about the lifestyle of New Orleans do you like?

Tokyo is a big, busy city. People are walking hard, walking fast. Tokyo’s young people socialize using only Facebook and Twitter. People don’t have conversations with each other. They don’t live in the real life. New Orleans people go to eat, drink together. They say hi to each other.

How would you describe your work in the music community?

In Japan, my family or my audience always ask of me, what do you dream? You want to be a world musician or you want to be famous? You want to get a Grammy? That’s not my dream. I just want to be a musician here. I really love my life in New Orleans.

Do you remember being taught or told anything growing up about your behavioral expectations as a girl that were not the same as your male peers?

I was born in Japan and my whole family is Japanese, so Japanese. Education is separated by girls and boys. Boys should be blah blah blah blah and girls should be blah blah blah. Girls have to learn how to be home a lot: cooking, washing, everything. And the boys have to learn more sports and things. Japanese people deeply believe that stronger people should help weaker people so men should be strong for protecting their family and being a father because they are stronger than woman or children. Women should be lovely, kindly and doing housework for being a mother in the future. 

Can you define sexism as it presents itself to you?

Men and women are totally different but we should respect each other. I don’t know which side is a man’s side and which side is a woman’s side but to not respect or understand each other is sexism.

How does being treated in a sexist way make you feel?

It is more sexist in Japan than in the U.S. Some people say things to me but I don’t care. I am a Japanese girl who moved to New Orleans by herself and people say to me, “You’re so strong! It’s girl power!” It’s surprising to me because that doesn’t happen to me in Japan. The most sad thing to me is when a female plays the music, people don't listen the music but just look at her. If she looks beautiful, she may be a good musician even if she cannot play well. I just want to be a good musician, not an idol for men.

Can you recall any occasions when you were treated in a sexist way that may have stuck with you?

My boyfriend is also Japanese. He’s so Japanese (laughing). He is also a musician living in New Orleans so we live together. Many Japanese people come visit us which is good but my boyfriend is older than me and he has been in New Orleans longer than me and people give respect to him before me. I have frustration about that. People think I play the music because of my boyfriend. It’s not true. I do my job by myself. People sometimes confuse or misunderstand or give disrespect to me. There are a lot of people that think I owe my boyfriend everything. He helps me but I pay my own rent, bought my own car, book my own gigs by myself, of course!

Are there any particular stereotypes of women or of men that drive you insane?

My boyfriend always says to me, “Women cannot drive well, women cannot”…it’s so sexist. He is also a musician and he sometimes says that a woman cannot be a musician and a mother or a wife at the same time. But I don’t think so. It’s already 2017.

And you said that’s a really Japanese way of thinking?

Yes. I’m not sure about my future but I want to have a family in the future and be a mother and I want to continue to do my music or my jobs.