Growing Up Half Japanese

“What are you?”

I’ve read blog after blog about people half-jokingly complaining about being half Asian in America. But, in all honesty, I absolutely love it, half Japanese to be exact. My dad is from Washington DC of Northern European descent and my mom is from Japan.

Yes, I get the “what are you” question all of the time, but it doesn’t really bother me; I think it’s funny and interesting when people guess what ethnicity I am, the most popular guess surprisingly being Latina.

asia japan japanese japanese culture
Japan. Photo by Janko Ferlic on

The best parts…

Like I said, I don’t think there are that many, if any, downsides to being half Japanese. So, these are just some of my personal favorite parts of being “hafu” as they say in Japan… (“hafu” = half Japanese, half something else)

  1. I get to talk to my family and friends in a language that rarely anyone understands. When I’m home in New York, my family and I can speak in Japanese and most people around us don’t understand. In Japan, I can speak in English and most people don’t understand. Just to mention an example, one of my close family friends and I were on the same soccer team for years when we were younger, and we would always say things in Japanese during games so the other players couldn’t understand.
  2. I have 2 completely different cultures in my family. I think this is my favorite part of being half Japanese. Culture in America and Japan are almost polar opposites; the way people act, the food, and pretty much everything is so different, but I love it. It’s so interesting when my mom points out that I am so American in some ways because I am much more outgoing and loud (oops) than her relatives and friends, but also says that I am very Japanese in other ways like when I am overly polite and scared to be confrontational (haha).

    architecture art clouds landmark
    Photo by Pixabay on
  3. FOOD. Because my dad is American, I’ve always loved food like chicken parm or New York pizza. But, I mostly LOVE the seemingly crazy food from Japan, especially raw octopus and sashimi. Thanks to being half Japanese, I don’t find any food too “crazy” or “scary” to try, so I always have a great time trying out new food to this day (I was never happier than when I discovered they sold raw octopus in grocery stores in Spain and Germany too)!
  4. Traveling alone doesn’t scare me! As previously talked about in almost all of my other blogs, I LOVE traveling alone. Whether it’s for one week or one year, I am always up for a trip to another country. Of course a lot of people who aren’t biracial or anything of that sort also love to travel alone and are not scared to do so. But, I definitely think that for me, being half Japanese has made me much more comfortable when traveling alone. For a lot of my friends, the idea of leaving the country without their parents or friends is understandably a scary thought. But, being that my mom took my siblings and me to Japan every summer since we were born, I have been exposed to different cultures for as long as I have been alive and I am used to doing things alone in another country. Now, the idea of going abroad alone excites me to no end.

    The Japanese team qualified for the Russia World Cup 🙂
  5. I can pick and choose when to be American and when to be Japanese. This one is a joke. But seriously! Sometimes, it is so great to have 2 countries to fall back on. During the World Cup in 2018, the US didn’t even make it to the tournament in Russia. So, I was a full-on proud Japanese fan. On the 4th of July, I am always all-American, decked out in my red, white, and blue. While I was in Madrid and I met some other girls from the US, I was so glad I was American because we had something in common from the beginning. The list goes on!

There’s probably much, much more to be said about how great it has been for me to be half Japanese. All in all, I couldn’t be happier that I have parents from two completely different cultures (mostly because of the yummy food 🙂 ).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s