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.