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hapa275Hi everyone! My name is Julie Taeko Gramlich, and I have always associated more with my Asian side.

I am proud to be Hapa because I represent more than one culture — bringing the countries of Japan, Germany and England into a beautiful blend. Before, these countries were at war. Now they have created me, among many other half-Japanese, half-White people.

I love the fact that I can break the barrier of race purely with my appearance. I have no idea how many times I have been asked the question “What are you?” or the more politically correct “What is your ethnicity?” I love it. I thrive on it. I almost beg to be asked.

Sometimes, I play the guessing game. At other times, I inform them immediately. I’ve been called everything — ranging from Brazilian and Spanish to Chinese and Vietnamese. Based on just looks, 98% of people cannot guess what my ethnicity is, unless they see me with my parents. While I don’t necessarily “belong” in any one culture, I embrace the challenge. To me it’s more about individual happiness with one’s true and chosen identity.

I find it admirable that I not only speak Japanese, but I also celebrate the New Years customs and cook certain Japanese dishes. During one period of my life, I hated going to Japanese Saturday school, because I wasn’t as fluent as the full-blooded Japanese students. During another period, I wanted my parents and I go out to dinner, so I could be seen with them and my heritage wouldn’t be confusing. Nevertheless, I have persevered through my “identity crisis,” and have come to realize that my personal happiness with my chosen identity of being both races is of utmost importance.

7 thoughts on “Japanese, German, English

  1. Ah, my brother & father have a similar complexion, though with coal black hair. I, on the other hand, have the British “lily white” skin of my mother as well as blonde hair and grey-green eyes from some British/German/French ancestor. My father is 1/2 Japanese, we are 1/4 Japanese [yes hapa applies]. Both my father / brother get Hispanic, Italian and Portuguese [my father when in Portugal had a gentleman run across a busy road because he thought my father was someone else, a local]. I get British or one of the Scandinavian countries. If not for the same facial features most people would probably think my brother & I half siblings at least not fully siblings.

    Funny how genetics work. Doesn’t help that people not of the same origins [Europeans] have a certain “image” about how Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, etc. are supposed to look supported by media, google images, etc. My uncle [dad’s cousin], full Japanese, for example is oftentimes confused for some Mediterranean mix because his features are not “Japanese enough” to non-Asians and some Asians.

    Julie, if you still follow this, you asked Hanako if they’ve lived / worked in Japan. Have you? I have spent many years in Japan, I am fluent in Japanese and embrace that side more than I would say the European half mostly because mum’s family is not the most generous. I followed relatives’ history and got involved in a theatre troupe to help pay for my education. Funny how one of my colleagues would have passed for standard stereotypical Japanese except for the fact she had rich natural auburn hair.

  2. I am Japanese, German and British too!! :) And I went to Saturday Japanese school when i was younger but I still don’t speak Japanese… maybe if my mom spoke it that would have helped. Also, nice write up :)

  3. I can relate to the school situation too! For me, I was fluent early on in Japanese and it was always the teachers that kept looking at me, asking questions and making sure I wasn’t some foreigner speaking so perfectly. Noticeably they would challenge me because of that, but nonetheless it didn’t shatter me as a person.

    very nice story!

    • Thank you very much. I wrote this so quickly, but now I am starting to write a book to help parents who are raising mixed hapa children! Let me know if you have any ideas. Thank you!

  4. I hated Hoshuko too! It was the absolute bane of my existence… I was the only hapa and so I got picked on badly. But now as an adult, I am so grateful that I get to be bilingual and bi-cultural. Sounds like we have some things in common!

    • I don’t remember getting picked on, but I didn’t feel like I fit in. I hated it specifically because I got bad grades, whereas in regular school, I was doing so well! Lol. Have you ever lived/worked in Japan?

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