Being “Half” in Japan

Transcripts available in the following languages:

  • en

In terms of my cultural identity being “half” in Japan, oObviously, you're considered a little bit exotic in the Japanese community, but you are also different. I would go to the countryside and visit with my aunties and uncles and if I walked down the street, you know, people would turn around and say, oh, “gaijin gaijin,” you know, foreigner, foreigner. 

So, but within the U.S. schools, of course, I was Japanese and there were a lot of my friends I hung out with a lot of, um I would say, Japanese-Americans. Some were from Hawaii, some were from California, their parents, and also some other half girls like me. So growing up, a lot of my friends were Japanese-American or half. And it was interesting because we would speak Japanese to each other in school so nobody would understand what we were saying.

So in that sense, in the American schools, I had a really Japanese identity; in the countryside in Japan, I was considered a gaijin. And so, you know, it was a different - different differed depending on where I was.

Date: July 14, 2022
Location: California, US
Interviewer: Lana Kobayashi
Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum; Japanese American Bar Association

half identity mixed

Get updates

Sign up for email updates

Journal feed
Events feed
Comments feed

Support this project

Discover Nikkei

Discover Nikkei is a place to connect with others and share the Nikkei experience. To continue to sustain and grow this project, we need your help!

Ways to help >>

A project of the Japanese American National Museum

The Nippon Foundation