My Name is Lena Yumi McMaster. I am second generation (both of my parents are half Japanese) half Okinawan, 1/4 Irish, and 1/4 German.

I grew up in a small town with little cultural diversity. Although I’m Hapa, I feel that it often goes unnoticed because I look white. I also feel a bit different from other Hapas because my parents moved here when they were in their late teens so I was raised very differently. At my home Japanese was our first language, and yes, fresh rice was made daily.

I also had a little bit more confusion because I am actually not half Japanese, I’m half Okinawan and there are some mainland Japanese that are very racist against Okinawans.

I always felt more Japanese (Okinawan) than anything, but I lost touch with it in middle school through high school. I used to hate my middle name, until I was 15 years old. My driving instructor asked me if my middle name was really “Yummy” and I laughed and said, “No, I know it’s embarrassing, it’s Japanese.”

She said, “Girl be proud — not many people can say their middle name is Yummy!!! Own it!!”

Today, I actually wish it was my first name so more people will ask me about my heritage because I love sharing my story and hope that I’ll find more people just like me. I consider myself to be blessed to be so unique, one of a kind, and I’m proud to say that I am Hapa!!

6 thoughts on “Okinawan, Irish, German

  1. Hi Lena, my name is Kelly and I too am half Okinawan and half American, it’s so cool to find someone who is like me, and better yet, my middle name too is Yumi! My mother is full Okinawan who came to America with my dad (he was a marine stationed in Okinawa). I’ve lived in Okinawa when I was young, and visited back there to see family. God I miss it there so much. Maybe we can talk or message sometime :)

    • Hi Kelly,
      Thanks, for sharing! I’m am so excited to hear from someone with a similar story as mine! I miss Okinawa as well! Where is your family from in Okinawa? I would love to talk more!


  2. In reference to the above poster, I think everyone’s expereince is different. If this young woman feels that there is discrimination against okinawans, that is her experience of that. I’m sure that you didn’t mean to be dismissive. Also, confused about your DNA comment – anthropologically there is evidence to show that people with two mixed parents tend to have a wider variety of appearance, though.

    I am in the same situation – both my parents are mixed – my mother is irish, indian (first nations) and black where as my father is mestizo filipino. My mother was much darker than I am, had hazel eyes and very dark (nearly black) hair that I believe she may have chemically straightened, as I 1) rememeber her having burns on her scalp and 2) have found pictures of her where she has kind of a fro happening! Her father had black eyes and hair, which he kept shaved but I think was more glossy. Her mother (who was Irish) had fair skin, freckles, blue eyes and dark hair.

    My father had more stereotypical “asian” eyes, but they were dark grey and his hair was also very dark brown/black but he was fair complected.

    How did I turn out? Green grey eyes with a very dark, thick rim about the edge my iris that looks nearly black. I have dark hair, but in the past I’ve colored it (trying to move away from that a little) and palish skin that tans up if i actually go outside. My hair is textured and does cool things on its own without gel – after years of trying to grow out my hair I have learned to accept my hair’s texture at least. I have a more asian/native face structure, but gained a little weight so its not as obvious. People think I’m white or hispanic all the time. It leads to a lot of very awkward situations where 1) people think I’m white and think they can disclose their racist crap to me or 2) people want me to be white and am uncomfortable with me not being what they think I look like. And I don’t think it is necessarily easy to be a person who “looks white” and is mixed, because you 1) get crap from all sides and 2) have your own issues to deal with as a mixed person.

    It was nice to see someone on here who is “white looking” and openly identifies as being mixed. I have a lot of friends who are closeted about their mixed heritage. There are a lot more of us out there than people think – just some people realize its easier (in the short term, superficial ways) to deny who you are and try to “pass”.

    • Hi MK,
      Thanks for sharing, it’s always nice to hear from others who have mixed ethnicities. Also, I appreciate your remark about discrimination against Okinawan’s. It is true things have changed and Japan is more accepting. But, that reason I feel that way is because I was raised in a Japanese environment where I was the only half Okinawan aside from my siblings. Most of the elders thought differently as Winton said “their isn’t anymore beef.” That is mostly true with the younger generations. But, If I elaborated it would be a very long response.

      As far as the topic of DNA goes, I understand what you are saying. But, typically I have noticed most Hapa’s typically have darker features such as, brown hair or brown eyes. At least thats what I have noticed. Although, I am aware that there are others that have lighter features and it is varied. I have yet to meet others that have lighter features and would love to in the future.

      I think it’s easy for me to identify with being mixed because both my parents were raised in Okinawa Japan until they moved here at 18. Most of our family and friends are Japanese and others are Okinawan. We have actively been involved in the local Buddhist community, Kenjinkai, and much more. I think it also made a difference because Japanese was my first language as a child. For me growing up I always felt different being the only one with auburn hair, fair skin, and blue eyes.
      But, regardless I encourage all people of mixed cultures to embrace their heritage. Culture is a beautiful thing, no matter where you live or what the circumstances are always remember that you are beautiful. It’s okay to be different! Always keep in mind that somewhere in the world there are many who feel the same way that you might.
      I want to clarify that color should have nothing to do with who you are as a person. This is just how I feel and we all should all be entitled to express our feelings. I’m all about embracing ALL cultures around the world ^__^

      I want to thank everyone for sharing!

  3. You are beautiful. I can see the OKINAWAN in you. It’s a part of what makes you beautiful inside & out. I would never change a thing about you or your brothers. Be very proud of your heratige. I still like what mom Nakamure said about me. “A funny looking Okiawan with an american stomach”. She knew me, & I lover her.

  4. That is so interesting. Knowing how DNA works, you got the 25% chance of looking more caucasian, huh? I think that’s cool. I don’t know what kind of small town you grew up in, Yumi, but if you think about it, it may have made your life somewhat easier looking more white (Although you spoke Japanese at home). I’d be curious to know how that may be considering where you grew up.

    I know one girl in San Francisco that has hafu parents (both half Japanese). She looks more on the hapa side.

    By the way, at least where I grew up in the Tokyo area, there isn’t any more beef between the Okinawans and Japanese. In mainstream Japanese media there isn’t either. They freely talk about it, like how Namie Amuro is from Okinawa and 1/4 Japanese. They manage to take care of a decent amount of it with Koreans too, which I’m really glad about.

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