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I’ve been called Korean, Filipino, Chinese, and even just plain White. Almost every time someone asks about my ethnicity and takes a guess, chances are they would guess wrong. I am half Japanese with a blurry mix of Irish, German and British. My mother was born and raised in Tokyo, while my father was born in the States, and I am completely bilingual.

Honestly, I have never heard of the term “Hapa” until a few months back, but I can honestly say that I am a proud Hapa. I have gone to Japan every summer since I was 2, and also had the language drilled into me by my mother since a young age and went to school during the summers in Japan. I am always getting praise and compliments on how good my Japanese is, almost as though they expected less of me. I grew up speaking the language like any other native speaker, so how should being a Hapa make it any different?

I have found myself finally getting used to the stares, the curiosity and the questions I get and the disbelief or cynicism by people who claim I look more like one side of my family then the other. I get stares, whispers and am immediately labeled “gaijin” or a foreigner while in Japan, but never quite seemed to find a place while in the States either. When I was younger it used to bother me, but now I can finally see the experience as positive and have it help define the person that I am today.

3 thoughts on “Japanese, Irish, German

  1. Hi..I’m 48 yrs old and have lived my life with the same stares, looks, guessing games etc….Japanese, Irish, German etc..the good news. Was born in Taunton, Massachusetts, uprooted here in Florida. Being proud of our heritage, as my mom was one of the most beautiful women ever from Tokyo, now I am still stared at and told how young and gorgeous I still look all the time. Funny thing, it makes me so uncomfortable for I want to be defined for who I am, not what I am. I also have two very handsome sons that don’t look Asian at all but they are proud too.
    Just enjoy your journey and know, you’ll age gracefully, but do well in life, that’s what ultimately defines you. Best to you!

  2. Haha, wow…I went through the language thing too! I think that has more to do with anyone who’s been born outside Japan, though (I’m a nisei). “Nihongo jyouzu desune~” was a refrain I heard often, and even my relatives were like “Nihongo ga jyouzu ni nattane!” every time they saw me. I used to think that was horribly condescending (I was like, “I speak it at home all the time, and you think I’d be bad at it?”) but I’ve learned to accept them as (I hope) they’re meant, a compliment on my linguistic ability! It was also weird when I went to work in Japan to have ppl complementing me on my English. “Eigo jyouzu desune! Ryugaku shitandesuka~?” lol

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