My name is Anne Tsuyako Funayama. My father is Japanese and my mother is Swedish. I feel more Swedish than Japanese. I don’t speak Japanese — I can say a few words but more like a tourist visiting Japan.
I didn’t have any problems growing up here in Stockholm, Sweden. I don’t think I ever heard anything about my looks. Where I grew up, a lot of my friends were half Swedish and half something so it was never an issue to anyone. Not even when I was among only Swedish people did I hear anything improper. Some are curious and ask where I’m from and when I tell them they just find it very fascinating.
I would have loved it if my father had spoken Japanese with me and my siblings. It would be easier for me when I visit my relatives in Japan. They haven’t said anything about me being mixed either and they are from a small area in Yamagata. I have tried to study Japanese but it’s very hard to learn all the grammar. It’s very frustrating knowing that I could have learned Japanese for free and speak fluently.
I’m very proud of being half Japanese and I hope my (future) children will have some Japanese looks too.
Hi there. I enjoyed reading your blog. I searched the words “japanese swedish” and came to find this page. My sister and I are American but our father is of Japanese ancestry and our mother is of Swedish. I never would have thought there was another person on this planet with the same mix! I’ve been to Japan once but I have never been to Sweden although I hear it is beautiful.
The Japanese language isn’t too tough. In fact, I think it’s easier than English to learn. I have tried in the past to learn some Swedish but I couldn’t get the hang of it. Someday I hope to learn more.
I’m Japanese and have known other mixed kids who say the same about their parents. Now I am a parent of mixed marriage (my girls are half Japanese half American) and have seen mixed kids who do not speak both languages of their parents, I can say that it’s not all parents.
For parents to teach a language is at cost of parents’ time and efforts. Free can be more expensive than paying. Let being a parent itself is hard enough, if children don’t understand what their parents are saying, parents cannot discipline. You have to start teaching a language at the age when children are still acquiring their first language, which is extremely challenging. Some kids have reaction to it. I have learned that not all kids are built for that.
In many cases of half Japanese half another nationality children that I have seen and are bilingual are the ones who grew up in Japan and went to the International School. That is not really free because those parents pay a ton of money to make their kids bilingual.
As for my kids, they are still bilingual. I hope they will stay that way, but at this point, it’s hard to tell since they are still very small. I’m a stay-at-home mom, so I have a lot of time with them. However, as soon as my first daughter started going to English speaking kindergarten, her ability to speak Japanese has worsened and it’s been tough for me. I understand that it’s hard for her as she is showered with English for 7 hours a day and then if she has a play date, she speaks more English for another 3-4 hours. My role as a parent to influence her has diminished since she started schooling.
Japanese is not an easy language to learn, but any language is difficult to learn once we become an adult. I acquired French much later in my life and I’ve suffered a lot to learn. You’re lucky that you have family in Japan. You can get help from them if you really want to learn Japanese.
I can go on and on, but I should not write a novel on a comment section, so I need to stop. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!! You’re beautiful!