Growing up, I never questioned who I was or what I was. I was simply me.
In middle school and high school, I was known as Asian. Everyone knew I had an Asian half to me, and it was never questioned. Upon moving to Japan for college, I was questioned left and right.
Some people had to ask what I was, some people assumed I was full Caucasian, and some people disagreed with me when I told them I was half-Japanese.
A year ago, I went through an identity crisis that left me depressed and more confused than ever. I used to not care what people thought of me, but living in Japan and being doubted has made me feel the need to prove myself.
I have felt the need to prove to strangers something that is already there I have felt the need to prove I am Japanese to people I will never associate with again.
Recently, I have started getting used to being different and not being accepted by my own people (Japanese). I have realized that despite all the problems, confusion, depression, and endless questions I have about my identity, I would much rather be the biracial person I am than a person of only one race.
I love being Japanese and American. I love having two races. I love having parents from two different backgrounds. I love having the best of both worlds. I love being able to be on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. I love having two homes.
Within many students at my school, I have started a trend with the term “hybrid”. It is basically the same as “Hapa”. I am a hybrid, and I am proud. Hybrids are beautiful, exotic, unique, and diverse. Be proud to be a hybrid. Own it.
Alas, Japan can be like that, but not always. Sadly some ignorance remains (I mean, after all these years you’d think their attempts at employing English in local advertising would improve a lot more right? lol) I’m sure you’ll find more enlightened and curious peers who will help you enjoy Japan whilst helping Japan acclimate to an increasingly cosmopolitan local culture….
I felt the same way as a youngster. When looking at myself in the past, i felt i was more asian than my other half. and eventually as i got older, i felt i lost some of those qualities that made me look asian. Now most people would never assume i am Japanese mixed, but rather mexican, or filipino.
From what I understand, Japanese in Japan do not even accept full-blooded Japanese if they were born and raised in another country. Very fussy about what Japanese means exactly. By the way, I am half and while growing up in the Midwest I was always asked “what are you?”
My kids are hapa- Japanese and English. I always thought, double would be a better term than
Hapa, because they have the exposure of two cultures not half of each. Immersing yourself in both of your cultures will give you twice as much experience in life. Best wishes in all your endeavors!
I am a bit older than you, but I too understand how you feel. I remember struggling with the issue of non-acceptance from Asians. Really, it’s like a badge of honor and will center and ground you as an individual.
I used to use the term hybrid all the time before we had hybrid cars. Your use of the term in this way makes me smile.
Thank you for sharing.