hapa358Hi there, my name is Justine and my father is Japanese/Hawaiian and my mother is Caucasian. I was born and still live in the beautiful rainy city of Portland.

Growing up I always had a really hard time identifying with who I was. I remember people would always ask me, “What are you?” or “Where are you from?” and I was always thrown off by this.

Sometimes people would just assume they knew what I was or where I was from. I didn’t know very many Hapas growing up so it was hard to find others who knew how I felt, except for my sister. I actually didn’t find out I was part Hawaiian until a few years ago so I mostly identify with my Japanese and Caucasian parts.

hapa358-2My father has been pretty absent for most of my life, and I think that had an affect on how I identified myself. As a result of this I was never very close to anyone on his side of the family until more recently. Even though I wasn’t around them much growing up, my mother always tried really hard to incorporate that culture into my life.

She would make Japanese food for my sister and I a lot, take us to traditional events, and we hosted many Japanese exchange students through out my childhood. When I turned 13 I had the opportunity to visit one of our former exchange students in Okayama and it was one of the most exciting experiences I have had. I would love to return again some day and learn and see more about the culture.

I’m proud to be Hapa because what I am makes me unique. Not only did I get peanut butter and jelly sandwiches packed in my lunch growing up, but onigiri and mochi too. I’m not just white, or just Japanese or Hawaiian, but a beautiful mixture of them all. I’m Hapa.

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