Erica Meure Pool | 絵里香ポール
“How does the place where you live influence the way you experience being half Japanese?”
Please share your answer to Erica’s question in the comment area below.
|Born in||the Netherlands|
|Lived in||the Netherlands - Japan|
|Reading and Writing||⚫⚫⚫⚪⚪|
|Speaks||Dutch - English - Japanese - Spanish -|
I ‘m from the South in the U.S., and there are only a couple of asians including my mom. I think each person ‘s experience is also dependent on what they look like. My experience was and still is very different than my older sister. I always looked mostly Japanese (especially when I was younger), and so I was bullied quite a bit in school. Also, people never thought my sister and I were related. If they found out, I was always asked if I was adopted. Unlike myself, my sister has always looked more European (although now she looks mixed), and so she was never bullied like me. Even though I’m hafu, it seems as people only view me as Asian. For example, people around me expect me to be this stereotypical Asian. And because parts of me are not, people view my differences as weaknesses. There is so much more I could say, but I’m writing too much for a comment;)
It influences a lot. If you live in a country where people are positive toward Japanese, then your life can be happier. On the contrary, if you live in a country where people are negative toward Japanese, then your life can be tougher. It has a lot to do with the educational program, how Japan is portrayed through media, and politics of the country where you live in. These factors influence a lot on how people perceive us for being half Japanese. Realistically speaking, it’s not so easy in most western countries, or you could say it’s too much easier for hafu to live in Japan 🙂 I’ve realized it through my own experience. These are external influences that affect my identity to a certain extent, but the core of identity isn’t affected. It’s better for hafu to live in many different countries, it lets you explore yourself deeper.
Well, let me say some of the comments sadden me. My father was Japanese born in Hawaii. My mother was African American, Irish, Cherokee and Blackfoot, born in Texas. I grew up in the Central Valley of California. This area is agriculture based and we are very diverse. My daughter’s were raised like myself not knowing prejudice. Our experience of growing up here is a blessing.
I have lived in Minnesota most of my life and there are very few Japanese here. Being half Japanese was for the most part a special thing, something to set me apart from the mainstream and be a source of pride. The flip side of that, however, was the underlying sense of there being a norm of which I was not a part. Tribal feelings run deep in the human psyche and there has always been a part of me that led me to feel that standing out amongst the crowd was a burden that I did not chose to bear. It should not be a surprise that a half Japanese felt this kind of existential duality.
I grew up in a multicultural city with a large Japanese population, being half was nothing out of the ordinary.
I even had a friend-group of just ‘halfies’ and we would hang out speaking in both Japanese and English.
Around the age of 13 I moved to a small town where my family was maybe one of three Japanese families.
There being ‘half’ becomes your main identifier “She’s half Japanese”.
I think living in more monoracial place can take a toll on your ‘halfie-experience’ but I think it is import to positively influence people that haven’t been exposed to Asian/halfie cultures.
I think being in the U.S. is very good for my Japanese. I lived in Japan for only 8 years, but while I lived int he U.S., I attended Japanese school during the weekend and my mother would search for Japanese families to hang out with. I believe I grasped the Japanese accent and a good amount of fluency. The U.S. has a surprisingly high volume of Japanese expats, that it’s not hard to find Japanese families, stores, restaurants, and schools. I am now 26 years old and work for a Japanese company in the U.S. It provides me with an opportunity to brush up on my Japanese while working.
I’ve had countless people tell me Pearl Harbor jokes, or tell me about my squinty eyes, while I lived in the U.S. It doesn’t compare to the harassment I receive for being half black. I am not talking about the U.S. citizens harassing me (it happens), but being half black is considered “tainted” in the Japanese culture. Many of my extended Japanese family has disowned my mother and I’ve been constantly harassed in Japan for being “kokujin” “gaijin” or countless other names. Adults will point and whisper as you are walking down the street. I definitely had great friendships and enjoyed living in Japan, but it doesn’t compare to the U.S. The Japanese in the U.S. are far more accepting of us.
I have lived my adult life in the USA. (Growing up I was a military brat and moved back and forth between the USA and Japan). Living in the USA my experience living as a half-Japanese has been a life under siege. I am fiercely proud of my Japanese heritage but I have learned to walk invisibly in a culture that is still so proud of its defeat of Japan in WWII. Coming into the 21st century it felt like things were getting better but as of late the USA is regressing to its latent jingoistic behavior.
Father American of various Euro ethnicies and 4% Central Asian
Born in US
Lived in US and Japan
Visited Japan Lost track
Lived in Japan 20 years
Speaks Japanese まあ一応 :P
I believe where you live is significant to your own ‘identity’. I was born in Tokyo and have lived in California, Germany and the Netherlands. My identity is a combination of all those influences whether I like it or not.
I’m Canadian and Japanese and have lived in Canada, Japan and China.
The reaction of Canadians (including Japanese-Canadians) in all three countries is pretty much the same – Canadian with Japanese roots – which in turn makes me feel very Canadian, because the majority of Canadians (at least around me) consider themselves “Canadian with x roots” often only a generation or two away.
From Japanese in Canada (not J-Canadian) I was Canadian, in China I was fellow Japanese expat, and in Japan I’m hafu – not really Japanese, kind of foreigner but it doesn’t matter what the foreign part is. But I feel Japanese, and maybe more defensively so in Japan… A bit like I have to prove it.
Many Chinese in China said I couldn’t be either – too tall to be Japanese and not blonde so can’t be Canadian and well that’s just funny!!
I think it influenced the way I experience being half Japanese greatly. I was born and live in Hawaii, a place where being multiracial and multicultural is commonplace. I was never made fun of or put down for my Japanese heritage, in fact it was quite the opposite! I’m half Caucasian, and my looks draw heavily from that side, so here in Hawaii people think I’m from the mainland United States and I can be judged for that. Here looking “local” is a big deal.
In term of culture, there are plenty of influences from japan and all over Asia in Hawaii, so I have a very diverse experience. I believe that I have a connection with a Japanese culture that has been modified to a distinctly Hawaiian-Japanese culture. I also don’t speak any Japanese, but was able to take Japanese language classes in high school! So I’m overall very happy with my experience being Japanese in Hawaii!
It influences big time, I was born in Mexico to hafu parents.
They were never taught the Japanese language, they were born around WWII, so blending in with Mexican culture it was really important, being Mexico so close to United States I mean.
I was born in a city that didn’t reject me fully, but reacted (and still reacts) to my full Japanese name, probably people made fun of my name a lot of times, but I wasn’t treated as Japanese, nor as Mexican… so I belong but don’t belong at times.
I guess I just been doing what needs to be done in order to survive.
I am also Mexican Japanese! People also made fun of my name but Mexicans always make fun of others haha.
Erica, I think the place where you live influence who you are, having a second culture at home it’s just a plus!
I think I am more Mexican than Japanese because I grew up in Mexico, Spanish is my main language, I know the culture, and I am more familiar with Mexico than Japan but I am super proud of my Japanese heritage! I embrace anything that has to do with Japan. Being hafu makes me unique, extra especial, and Mexicans think that Japanese are smart! Haha so it’s always being a plus.