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hapa253My name is Jay or Jian Yamazaki and I’m a mix of indigenous Japanese (Ainu) and South Indian (Dravidian). My dad is from Kerala, my mom is from a business family in Kyoto but she lives in south India since childhood.

My grandfather was strict with traditional Indian family rules, but my parents raised me as an international type and I’ve been interested in Japanese culture since childhood. My family follows Hinduism, though I was a follower of Shinto, which wasn’t encouraged much.

Growing up, I was a festival geek. I liked Hinamatsuri, shrine festivals, Hyottoko, Nihonjin Habba (in India), Thrissur Pooram, and so many others.

Since I was exposed to so many cultures, I easily made friends from different communities. One thing I’ve learned from living in Kerala is that “looks do not define anything, but your lifestyle and heart do.” My friends are a mix of Muslims, Christians, and Hindus, and all of them love me for who I am. My family is quite famous in our town.

hapa253-2I can speak many different languages, though not all fluently. As a young student, I spoke Malayalam with a Japanese accent. I used to be very quiet and people assumed I was American or Chinese.

I’m a singer-songwriter and sing in different languages. I once had a bad experience auditioning in Japan, where it is very homogenous, but I haven’t given up. I hope to be a professional in the coming years.

Personally, I do not embrace one single heritage. Like religion is the root of all evil, I believe embracing one heritage is a way of creating difference. I think being Hapa is special, but I just embrace good values and try to find things in common with Hapas and non-Hapas.

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