Photo: Twitter/@annaPHd9pj
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Half-Japanese woman hands card to people who ask tiresome questions about her race

147 Comments
By Oona McGee, SoraNews24

Whenever the topic of racial discrimination is brought up in Japan, one of the arguments you’ll hear is that the vast majority of Japanese people aren’t racist, they’re simply naive.

Naivety should be no excuse for discrimination, though, even when you live in a largely homogeneous country where 98 percent of the population is Japanese. Still, the lack of racial diversity in Japan means a lot of locals don’t have much experience directly interacting with people of other nationalities, particularly in rural areas, and as a result, people with foreign features can find themselves on the receiving end of stares, pointed fingers, and inquisitive questions time and time again.

While it’s one thing to receive attention as a foreigner in Japan, it stings more deeply when you’re half-Japanese, or haafu (“half“) as it’s commonly known here. Instead of being accepted as a Japanese descendant, your non-Japanese appearance becomes the topic du jour, and conversations descend into predictable questions that end up hurtfully listing the ways in which you’re not 100-percent Japanese.

One half-Japanese woman, Anna, decided to tackle this problem with a “First Meeting Card” which answers all these predictable questions, while also educating the other person on the inappropriateness of asking these questions in the first place.

Screen Shot 2020-06-24 at 8.30.59.png
Photo: Twitter/@annaPHd9pj

On the front of the card it says:

“♡First Meeting Card♡

Are you haafu? Yes, I am.

Which of your parents is the foreigner? My father is American.

How many years have you lived in Japan? About 15 years in total.

Can you speak English? Yes.

Which language do you dream in? Both.

Which language do you use when you’re thinking? The language I’m speaking in at the time.”

Screen Shot 2020-06-24 at 8.32.03.png
Photo: Twitter/@annaPHd9pj

On the back of the card it says:

“Which do you prefer, Japan or America? Both have good and bad points.

Are they your real eyelashes? Yes.

I’m always asked all these questions upon first meetings. I’ve grown tired of answering them every time so I made this card. To the people who ask these questions, I have a request. It’s rude to ask questions about a person’s appearance or race upon first meeting. From now on, when you want to ask another person these same questions, please remember this card.”

Anna says about half of the people she’s given the card to simply stand up and leave after reading it. Other reactions have been mixed, with one man clicking his tongue and throwing the card back at her, saying “You won’t get anyone with a card like this”. Women, on the other hand, seem to be more sympathetic, with many of them expressing surprise and apologising immediately. While some of them try to explain why they asked such questions, others have sided with her, commenting on how she must be fed up with answering the same questions time and time again.

People online were equally sympathetic, leaving comments like:

“This card is a great idea! I’d love one of these as I’m often asked these questions and I always have to force a smile when I answer.”

“This happens to me too. It’s so odd that strangers who strike up a conversation with me immediately want to know all about my family background. Why do I have to tell a complete stranger all my personal details?”

“The word ‘haafu’ is commonly used in Japan but it’s actually a form of racial discrimination.”

“It should be obvious that it’s not okay to talk about someone’s appearance when you meet them.”

“A lot of Japanese people can’t imagine that half-Japanese people won’t want to be asked these questions. It’d be a bit of a shock for them to realise that it’s actually unintentional discrimination.”

This “unintentional discrimination” is something that half-Japanese people encounter time and time again in Japan. Even if it’s couched in polite, friendly conversation and comes from a place of naivety, it doesn’t mean it’s not racial discrimination.

Anna’s brave act of creating the card and sharing it with people to spread awareness of what it’s like to be half-Japanese in Japan is going a long way to educating people on how not to be “unintentionally” racist in Japanese society.

It may be a challenging journey with a lot of roadblocks to chip away at, especially when even famous half-Japanese people like Naomi Osaka is asked these mundane questions by reporters in Japan, but if we can follow in Anna’s footsteps by saying something instead of smiling and politely playing along, the day when First Meeting Cards like this are no longer necessary may not be that far away.

Source: Twitter/@annaPHd9pj via Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Naomi Osaka stirs up debate about what it means to be Japanese following U.S. Open victory

-- Indo-Japanese beauty Priyanka Yoshikawa chosen as Japan’s Miss World representative

-- New list of inappropriate Japanese job interview questions from prefectural labor department

© SoraNews24

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

147 Comments
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I am intrigue about the Eye lashes . what no photos?

-2 ( +14 / -16 )

half such a demeaning phrase

20 ( +34 / -14 )

Once when I was wearing a plaster cast on my arm I thought of doing the same. Everyone I met asked the same questions about my accident.

Most of us of obvious foreign appearance get questions - what country, how long, chopsticks, natto etc. However, if you are born in Japan it must be especially wearisome.

But on the other hand, if you are in Japan outside of one of the major metropolises, you will probably end up talking to other foreigners just because they are foreign, especially in inaka. And the first few minutes of conversation will be where are you from, how long have you been here, what job do you do. Often not dissimilar to the questions that Japanese ask you.

20 ( +24 / -4 )

Jesus Anna, if generic questions ain’t your thing you need to get the first plane out of dodge! Poor wee thing. You are lucky to get any questions , so cancelling the standard programmed ones is gunna really cut down the gene pool for ya. It’s ok though doll, we all live in hope that the occasional person who can carry an original and interesting conversation pops up once in a while, but you learn it’s best not to expect it. Be kind and pleasantly surprised when it does happen.

Here’s a strategy, let them ask the standard questions and see if they do better with their reactions to your answers. Unless you are too above it all of course!

Anna says about half of the people she’s given the card to simply stand up and leave after reading it.

no doubt!

-21 ( +22 / -43 )

@Ricky Kaminski13 - Where are you from?

28 ( +33 / -5 )

The article doesn't say whether she gives it to absolutely everyone who asks "haafu" themed questions. Presumably there is a line you have to cross. At least some of the people will no doubt deserve the card.

I'm sure everyone out there gets "why did you come to Japan?" a lot. I think most people are fishing for praise about Japan rather than "I have an arts degree and graduated during a big recession".

24 ( +25 / -1 )

half such a demeaning phrase

Are you half? My half friends don't mind it.

-5 ( +17 / -22 )

unintentional discrimination

I like this phrase more than 'micro-aggression'. Aggression implies intent - whereas these are generally unrealized and unintentional. Unintentional discrimination much better fits in my opinion.

19 ( +25 / -6 )

Jesus Anna, if generic questions ain’t your thing you need to get the first plane out of dodge!

This is her home, she was born to, that she lives in.

27 ( +33 / -6 )

I get asked why I am so tall and people recoil in horror when I say I have a degenerative, terminal, genetic condition. Serves them right.

17 ( +22 / -5 )

Most of us of obvious foreign appearance get questions - what country, how long, chopsticks, natto etc. However, if you are born in Japan it must be especially wearisome.

More than that. People are trained to be easily offended these days, and that card is over the top. But these questions directed at her would be central to her identity. She is Japanese, yet she is being treated like an "exotic" foreigner - in her own culture, one where people don't want to stand out. It's not the same for a full-on foreigner, who can just brush the questions off.

The card is probably a good way to get rid of people who wouldn't add much to her life anyway. And interesting that it's the women who apologize while the men get huffy.

18 ( +21 / -3 )

Being black when I am asked where I am from for the last 15 years I've said Iceland. The shock on faces is priceless.

28 ( +33 / -5 )

I remember my favorite request:

"Well, can you be... you know, smaller?"

(Note, I'm 183 cm, and at the time roughly 110 kilograms)

"Not really."

"But you're so... big."

"Sensei, you didn't have a problem with that when I carried the broken refrigerator out of the staff lounge for you."

silence

19 ( +22 / -3 )

What a brilliant lady!

Before at interviews I would do the same thing; pre empt all the racist questions

My nationality is

My age is

My Japanese ability is

Ive lived in Japan since

My marriage status is

I actually had one interview years ago, where they had a subsidary in the US and needed a monitor (spy) to report back how the natives were performing. The location was remote and Im sure they got a tax subsidy to hire the locals there, and they couldnt keep Japanese staff to train them as they would all leave.

Because they had experience with the US HR laws etc, they straight up told me at the interview, we can ask you questions we cant ask in the US, and the panel of zombies began their interrogation.

7 ( +13 / -6 )

I get asked why I am so tall and people recoil in horror when I say I have a degenerative, terminal, genetic condition. Serves them right.

when I get these annoying intrusive and sometimes racist questions, I just return the question with "today Im not available to teach English" or "please ask her or him" (Japanese bystander) Problem solved everytime

3 ( +11 / -8 )

Half-Japanese ??? If you are a Japanese citizen you are entirely Japanese. Being Japanese is matter of law, not race.

0 ( +16 / -16 )

When the kids and I go out, I hear "oh, gaijin kids are so cute!" When my wife comes along, I hear "oh, half kids are so cute!" lol

16 ( +18 / -2 )

I’m a quarter Japanese / Hawaiian /Caucasian.

I haven’t got a problem with anyone being genuine, I do of they are just being a douche.

I don’t mind being referred to as half or quarter or whatever. I am also a citizen and everyone knows.

The people who I have seen the most offended are the western parent of their mixed kid. Many times the term half upsets them and they think it’s detrimental, and that I should be called a “double” instead.

LOL!

2 ( +10 / -8 )

...progress is slow, slower than a snail but things are better than before, especially in the big cities. things like this can help the Japanese, even if they don,t realize it... ignorance is one of the big problems in Japan... but then again, this kind of annoying quiet racism is much more easier to deal with than the other kind of racism we see in the US and Europe, i wonder if this woman ( who made the card ) is aware of that...

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

Half-Japanese ??? If you are a Japanese citizen you are entirely Japanese. Being Japanese is matter of law, not race.

Why do you ignore that Japanese is not only a nationality, it's an ethnicity? Does one automatically become ethnically Japanese when they take on Japanese citizenship?

9 ( +17 / -8 )

The people who I have seen the most offended are the western parent of their mixed kid.

I'm not sure if they are the ones I've seen the most offended, but it's a definite trend.

I'll follow my kids' lead when the time comes. If they don't want me to use it, I won't.

As I said earlier though, my half friends don't care.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Jesus Anna, if generic questions ain’t your thing you need to get the first plane out of dodge! Poor wee thing.

Well lets flip that. A native goes up to a Japanese in the US and ask:

Why you come here?

How old are you?

Why you use chop sticks when you eat?

Do you speak English?

The reply would probably be "get the hell away from me"

14 ( +21 / -7 )

The reply would probably be "get the hell away from me"

Ummm, nope.

-8 ( +7 / -15 )

Isn't "getting carded" a bad thing? It means you've committed a foul.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

What about the question, " Can you use chopsticks?"

I always enjoy telling Japanese that they're very good when I see them using a spoon. Umai na!

22 ( +23 / -1 )

She she should make the business cards with those q's and A's. Because the card is focused on only the questions so some people get annoyed or baffled but if they are business cards the purpose changes.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

When people start entering into the realm of private questions upon first meeting, I answer their question nicely and then bounce the same personal question back.

Inquisitor: Where's your family from? They're from Miyagi and the US.

Me: How about you? Where did you mother and father grow up?

That either makes them want to stop asking or they're willing to share their personal information with me, which is fine.

22 ( +22 / -0 )

@RickyKaminski13 WHERE ARE YOU FROM ???

10 ( +11 / -1 )

A group-centric society vs the nail that sticks out!

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Even if it’s couched in polite, friendly conversation and comes from a place of naivety, it doesn’t mean it’s not racial discrimination.

No. She’s just taking offense where none is given. She needs to get over herself.

-12 ( +11 / -23 )

I don’t think she knows what “discrimination” is.

-7 ( +13 / -20 )

Can't imagine what is going on with the eyelashes.

Growing up in a place that is 98% one race, like Japan, would be far different from growing up in California. Here we have, in order of numbers, Hispanics, then non-Hispanic whites, then Asians, then Blacks, with no one group making up 50% of the total population. A lot of people are also of mixed race.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Can't imagine what is going on with the eyelashes.

I've been asked multiple times in Japan whether my eyelashes are real. They're pretty long - I guess that's generally rare to occur naturally in Japan.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

With me it's the eye brows, like paint brushes.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Be happy that anyone even wants to speak to you. thats a good thing.

People talk to me in public all the time, and I enjoy it. One of the quirks of Japan.

-5 ( +10 / -15 )

@sf2k

I quite agree, 'half' is a horrible label, 'double' is much better.

1 ( +10 / -9 )

My two children are constantly stopped by the police asking for their alien card, they have even been told they need to carry a passport to prove they are Japanese. A quick response of no we don't and our lawyer will have fun suing you and the department if you even try to force us or take us to the station usually ends the conversation.

She has a good idea, going to show this to my children but I know their first reaction. That will be her first question and answer: Are you half? Her reply is yes. My children long ago reply: No I am double! As they are not half human they are also not half citizens they are 100% both. The timing of this article is interesting as just last night my son was on his way home from work and was again stopped by a plain clothes officer that gave him a hard time and again got the full on lie that he needs to carry proof of Japanese citizenship like a passport! I will be honest in work job search neither had any problems and with the general public the same, but police and city gov office nothing but trouble, oddly they have never had any problems with the national government not even immigration.

20 ( +25 / -5 )

@1glenn There is no such thing as mixed race! There is only one race on this planet, human! The sooner we stop using the term race the fast and better things will be. We do have mixed ethnicity and that would be a more factual term. Mixed ethnicity could mean Swedish and Italian as much as it could mean Japanese and French. Race right away gives a negative tone to all conversations.

12 ( +18 / -6 )

I didn't realize having to answer basic questions about yourself was such a hassle. Don't we all have to answer repetitive questions every time we meet someone new?

Also, giving someone that piece of paper is basically saying "get lost!"

-4 ( +10 / -14 )

Oh Anna!! That is a wonderful idea.

I would have liked to do the same thing as a Light Skinned Black American but growing older now I don’t mind talking to the people. Actually, a good way is to give them a lot of info from the first question and if they still want to talk to you then they may be worthy of true interaction.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

@Antiquesaving

As a black man I understand your sentiment. However, I am proud to be black. I am proud of my ancestry and of my parents. They had it far worse than I ever will. I would dishonor them if I were to take the generic I am a human. Yes I am human. I am a proud black human. The problem is not race. The problem is the idiots in all races. Thankfully, they are the minority.

I went to college in Wilmington, Delaware. My best friend was a guy from podunk Arkansas. He was far more treated with disrespect because of where he was from than I was. I was just another black guy. He was "trailer trash", "redneck", "Ozark hillbilly".

To this day he is my brother. He came to my wedding here in Japan. He came to see all my kids when they were born. I have reciprocated. I am blessed with my brother. Yet both are proud of who we are and where we come from.

I can say the same about my father in law and my wife's family. We ought to see past race, but we must also honor and be proud of who we are.

Be blessed.

18 ( +22 / -4 )

I dislike the term ‘half’. If you are a Japanese citizen then are Japanese 100%. And don’t give me that nonsense about Japanese being race. ’Half’ perpetuates the discrimination.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

She has a good idea, going to show this to my children

She probably got this idea from the Joker movie where he gives out a card to strangers explaining why he bursts out laughing for no reason.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Several decades ago I went to a function where lots of people asked me the typical questions one asks a non-Japanese. So many asked, in fact, that my then-girlfriend (Japanese) who spoke very little English asked, “Don’t you get tired of being asked the same questions?”

The questioners almost always looked at her when they asked me. So, the next questioner got her answers to their questions.

Q: Where are you from? (Look at girlfriend)

A: Chiba. And you (in Japanese, of course)?

Q: No, no. I mean, him.

A: Ask him.

Q: Ur..., uh. Hmm?

17 ( +18 / -1 )

Get the answers put on a t-shirt. I had this idea 20 years ago.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

I don’t really think any others other than mixed race people should really be listened to.

Most of you just don’t know what the reality is, and thats just normal.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

@kyushubill

So basically you would like to continue the concept of race and racial differences because you are proud to be black! Now look at the other side the one you would object to. Proud to be white! Clearly that does not sound good and is used by groups opposed to mixing equality, ect... Black is not a race white is not a race! The proof is a black American as nothing in common with a black Kenyan and a white Swede as little if anything in common with a white southern European. A black American would have far more in common with a white American than an African.

So if one wants to continue using the term race for people then one has to accept that the problems of race identify will continue and possibly get worse because the more one says they can be proud of being black, Asian but not white the more they will push people into taking sides the more resentment will build! Which is sounds better? I am proud to be Swedish or I am; proud to be white? Because those are the choices

13 ( +19 / -6 )

"Now look at the other side the one you would object to. Proud to be white!"

Actually you are wrong and making assumptions about a black man you never met. I have absolutely no problem with anyone being proud of who they are. White, Black, Asian, Korean, American, or anything else. I will not dictate what someone else wishes to identify as or be proud of.

Step off that ivory tower my brother, it can be a rough fall.

-1 ( +12 / -13 )

I am Japanese. If I meet some Japanese, they normally ask me where I am from.

I don't like the questions. But I understand their effort to start conversations associated with me.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Been visiting and living in Japan off and on and off since the early 1980's and have had tons of strange questions asked to me from Japanese nationals that probably never travelled outside Japan let alone their prefecture. At first it was annoying and after I began to understand the culture and the people's curiosity I relaxed. The can you use "hashi" etcetera type questions was funny when my "hashi" skills were better than my Japanese coworkers, LOL.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

agree with ricky. i admit, at about the 10 years mark, i was getting tired of these questions every day, but fortunately i realised it was just something i had to live with and learn to enjoy. this woman needs to find a way to deal with it....and that card sure as hell ain't it.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

@kyushubill

Don't live in an Ivory tower never have, struggled all my life due to people's preconceptions regarding my looks and disabilities. As for you not objecting then that would make you the exception, just read the news and how that is not acceptable in the USA, EU or Canada, etc... Now look at history in the 1940s German leaders used the German people but that was quickly changed to either German race or more often Arian/white race this had far more impact far more connotation of superiority than the earlier ethnic Germans that was used. You don't need to call yourself some race to be proud of your heritage or family, if that is so important then perhaps you need to look at why just being proud of your heritage and family isn't enough. I am a mix of 3 different ethnic groups all very different in customs and language white means nothing as there is not universal white customs, language, etc... same for black. Now ask what are my children? Japanese, Asian, French, Irish, Scott, etc... what "race"do they say they are. See the problem with race.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Those saying that this woman needs to just get used to it or that they have been answering this type of question since arriving in Japan here are some questions: are you mixed or Japanese? If not then not the same! If you are not Japanese, how would you like it if when you return to your country of citizenship that every time you meet new people they question you on your ethnic background, ask where you are from, ask if you are a citizen, etc... I have met many Asian, black and Hispanic north Americans and the one question that will get them all upset is Where are you from? While they are in their own country where they were born.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

If you are a Japanese citizen then are Japanese 100%. And don’t give me that nonsense about Japanese being race.

Japanese is an ethnicity as well as a nationality. If you are 100% Japanese when you take on cititzenship, then does taking on citizenship then also mean you take on the ethnicity?

1 ( +6 / -5 )

I am Japanese. If I meet some Japanese, they normally ask me where I am from.

I don't like the questions. But I understand their effort to start conversations associated with me.

@Testuya - That sounds fine...

...but imagine if every time you meet a fellow Japanese person they just presume you aren't Japanese, and every time you have to perform the same Q&A role play to prove that you actually are. Can you imagine how infuriating that might be?

There are many seemingly insignificant situations where issues occur. Imagine going to the supermarket to buy a bento, and being given a spoon instead of chopsticks just because its presumed you aren't Japanese. My Japanese nephew (half British) gets this all the time. They don't ask him if he wants a spoon instead of chopsticks, they don't speak to him at all because they presume he's a gaijin.

Imagine as a Japanese person having to constantly reinforce to people that yes, you can use chopsticks, yes you can eat rice, yes you actually can speak Japanese. Yes, I AM Japanese - just treat me normally please.

Imagine having to do this in your own country! Not overseas as a half Japanese person - actually in Japan!

Sure, it doesn't happen to everyone all the time, but it drives my 19 year old nephew crazy. He has lived all his life here, but half of the time (pun intended) he says he feels like an outcast. He has his coping mechanisms, he lives with it, he knows he benefits from his 'dual ethnicity' too - but most of the time in his day-to-day life he just wants to be accepted as being Japanese.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

Lol she's setting herself up to get asked these questions twofold now

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

This is the key reason my wife and I left Japan to raise our HALF daughter in a country in which xenophobia and racism is actually illegal. Even as a baby born in Japan we had 50% Japanese people saying how cute she looked while the other 50% grimaced or stared in disbelief. What kind of parents would we be to subject our daughter to such a label? If you can't change Japan, and you cannot, you leave.

-5 ( +8 / -13 )

It's just Not in Japan, it's Global Gesture but in western, they do it indirectly which is even worse.

Here's the simple proper list u should expect.

Original - Full Service

Halfu - Half Service

Outcast - Unpredictable Service

-13 ( +2 / -15 )

Like I stated before...the parents and others here are outraged.

The children and us who actually live double lives with its blessings and curses get it.

It is a laugh seeing westerners get all offended and angry. And no, everytime a Japanese person asks you something it is not offensive.

I very much doubt someone who says he is always stopped by the police here and asked to show ID.

Those who know Japan know better.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

Bet if she was drop-dead gorgeous she wouldn't mind the attention and questions. Instead, she is trying to get some attention (or seeing perceived racism) out of people's natural curiosity. Although I am a white American I get asked where I'm from by people I don't know in Japan; its no big deal and a good conversation starter. She needs to lighten up or leave Japan...

-8 ( +7 / -15 )

I used to tell people each of my kids is not a 'half' but a 'double'. Then wait 30 seconds while the look of puzzlement on their faces gradually gave way to a 'naru hodou' (occasionally). Usually just 'eeeeh?' though.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Would it be rude if you get this card and proceed to continue to ask questions, like at what point was fielding these questions annoying to you? Do you find the time and resource spent doing this worth while? Would you recommend all "half" do this? in general would you consider yourself antisocial or is it just half questions? Etc...

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@FireyRei

Good luck with that! In our case my children asked to return to Japan because the politic surrounding ethnicity got far to complicated. In Japan they were never prompted or asked to chose which side they are. My son was into theatre never a problem in Japanese schools but when in north America he was told many times not white enough not Asian enough to play xyz. The last straw came when he was originally picked to play the lead role which was a Japanese character with some Japanese dialogue. The other Asian parents objected saying he wasn't really Asian, so they replaced him with a full Asian non Japanese and then had the audacity to ask him to teach the new guy how to pronounce the Japanese lines. Naturally he refused. He was the only Japanese in school and worse the only Asian to have actually lived in Asia. But not Asian enough for the north American Asians. Oddly in north America my children never had any problems with Caucasians but constant problems with those claiming to be pure Asians.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

@thepersoniamnow

I don't get offended I expect it even after 30 years. My children get tired of it and they should as they are Japanese and citizens. As for not believing those that say they get stopped regularly by the police. Well sorry you can believe what you like. Just last night my mixed son got stop and asked to produce his alien registration card which of course he does not have. This is not a rate occurrence not for him not for his sister. My wife get frustrated with the number of times I get stopped driving, the usually fake reason is "is your winker working (aka turn signal)" next after the yes it is, they ask to see my Alien card! Not my drivers license but my Alien card, I drive a lot due to my work and this is at least once a month. I don't care anymore but the real fun is if they ask my wife for an alien card that is when the fireworks go off and she can be like a load of Dynamite

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Vernon Watts

extremely sexist remark! Nice going! My daughter by all accounts is beautiful and my son extremely handsome (yeah they don't get it from me). But both get tired of this both get tired of having to argue with police that insist they show proof of Japanese citizenship. You get asked where you are from all the time! Where here in Japan or in your native America? Do you get stopped in the USA and asked to prove you are American? Do you get asked regularly in America what your ethnic background is or what ethnicity each of your parents are? As for her needing to lighten up or leave Japan this is her country not yours perhaps it is you that should take that road I am sure most wouldn't miss your thinking and attitude!

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Once I called a toll-free number regarding delivery of a product I'd ordered, and in the course of our conversation the "service provider" asked me, "Amerika no kata desu ka?" to which I replied, "Kankei nai desho?" I don't normally have a problem with discussing this topic, but it was concerning a commercial transaction and since my nationality was irrelevant, I felt it was none of his business.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I like that last question...which language do you think in. It's a question that can only come from a person who is not fluent in more than one language, and needs to "think" to convert from their own language into another.

Yea, I agree those are very common and rather rude questions which arises from general ignorance rather than any ill intent. So that card is a good idea. As long as it doesn't go right over the recipent's head.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

6 of my siblings are halfies. Never have they ever considered it demeaning. They do find the term "double' a bit ridiculous. Seems Karen should get a job and stop making assumptions about everyone else.

4 ( +12 / -8 )

My two (grown up) kids refer to themselves as “half” quite happily, and have done since they were small. “Half English and half Japanese” is too much of a mouthful, and “double” is plain wrong. They got 50% of their genes from each of us, no more.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Of all the things to complain about...

People are curious.

According to this article, she's reacting as if people keep asking her really inappropriate questions.

It's still a novelty in Japan. Calm down.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

@Ken Wyatt if it was you in your own country and it was just about every time you meet someone for the first time, would you be saying the same thing? My children get these questions and more nearly every time they meet someone for the first time, they also get them just shopping from total stranger they didn't even say a word to even cashiers. As for still a novelty in Japan, sorry for more than 30 years Japan has had talento on TV etc... that are mixed, my adult children had many classmates that were some form of mix that was public school in Tokyo. When I meet a new acquaintance in my home country the questions are what work do you do, where do you live, etc.. never has anyone asked what is my ethnic background or that of my parents. It is only natural that mixed children in Japan find being asked these things annoying. A side note, if this was actually acceptable in Japan then why is it not legal to ask those same questions to a possibly mixed Japanese when they apply or are interviewed for a job. Note I said Japanese it is perfectly legal to ask non Japanese but not a Japanese citizen. This was told to them by their university when job hunting and was taught to my son in university as part of his work place diversity courses. So obviously the government sees this as a problem and as being inappropriate.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@Antiquesaving it seems to me that you worry too much with what other people think and the PC of today. you are (1) white, you are (2) Swedish, you are (3) European. you,re those 3 things ... be proud of it. to the parents that still find themselves frustrated, or worried, or just annoyed, with the way Japanese people think about your kids being haafu ( i don,t like that word but ... ), sometimes feeling like discrimination, other times like just plain curiosity, know that deep down there,s a feeling of jealousy and admiration.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

So many confirmations of what we already intuitively know about the centrality of race. Aggrieved parents of halves here, demanding to know why their progeny haven’t earnt an automatic exemption from discrimination and been accorded status as honorary insiders; Asians in North America doubling down on their racial exclusiveness by nixing an ethnically half Japanese from performing a Japanese role on account of his lacking Asian cred. A black man, excoriated for expressing pride in that identity. Best thread in ages!

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

@rcch I am neither Swedish nor European only used it as an example of the differences. If you read the article it is not parents that are annoyed or frustrated it is the young woman who is mixed that is. It is not I that has to deal with the problem near daily nor is it I that has to answer these questions, it is my mixed children and if they are tired and fed up with them that is their right. No one who has not had to deal with constant questioning regarding their background their citizenship in their own country has any right to tell these mixed Japanese anything. And again if this is all so innocent then why has the government made it illegal to ask these sort of questions to potential employees that may or may not be mixed? Because it is often not as innocent as many here would like us to believe.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Antique

Understood and agree.

I just also think that being involved with foreigners is really not something Japanese are used to.

It’s better for me to be at peace with it personally.

Since I have moved back here (Osaka) I have a lot of friends from all over and everyone has told me they have only been stopped once or twice in 20-30 years here.

They range from Black Japanese to Brazilian to Korean. I myself would never be seen as Japanese and always get a chuckle when I say my name and where Im from.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I am "half" Japanese and "half" American.

Born in Japan, raised in the States and came back.

When I lived in the States I was treated as an Asian and

never felt accepted. When I came back to Japan I was

treated as an American and never felt accepted.

For the longest time I had issues of not belonging to

either culture but I aged and learned to speak Japanese

fluently and now I just use being "half" to my advantage.

When I get stopped for a traffic offense, I can't speak Japanese (笑)

When salesmen come to the house I can't speak Japanese(笑)

And when I'm approached by a hostile gaijin I can't speak English.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

I find it amusing that anyone would take offense at being thought of as non-Japanese. Isn’t that a good thing? Why would anyone want to become Japanese?

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

@thepersoniamnow it is interesting I have been told by many mixed that Osaka was way less a problem than other places, I don't know if this is actually true but aneighbour who is a retired police officer told me Osaka police need to tread carefully because of historical problems with discrimination of a former group of Japanese (I will not write the name most know what I mean). So perhaps that has made the police less likely to as unless unavoidable. I have lived in a very working class (shitamachi) part of Tokyo at first the police were surprised to see a visible gaijin (many Asian but very few white or black) things have change in 30 years. I mostly have problems outside Tokyo when out driving for my work, never the locals they are as sweet as can be, always the police. But recently moved to a new station it is precious to see the police that come by with the questionnaire for who lives in each house. The concept of a family with 3 different family names blows their minds, correct 3 names my children have their mother's Japanese name, (ex wife), my wife now retained her maiden name and I have my name. The is this a share house is regularly asked, look of confusion on people's and police faces is hilarious

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@Vince Black I don't! It is like Canadians often take offence when mistaken for or asked if they are American (USA). Why would anyone want to be American (USA). See how that can be used!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

"Why do you ignore that Japanese is not only a nationality, it's an ethnicity? Does one automatically become ethnically Japanese when they take on Japanese citizenship?"

Rubbish. Where does it say that in the law books and the Constitution? Only the right-wingers believes in that rubbish. I repeat: Being Japanese is a matter of citizenship not race or ethnicity. You can be blonde or dark-skinned or green. If you're passport says you are Japanese you are Japanese. End of discussion.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

You can be blonde or dark-skinned or green. If you're passport says you are Japanese you are Japanese. End of discussion.

But that won’t stop people from discriminating. Nor will it stop the cops from stopping you.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.

I find that life in Japan is much more fun when I just overlook or ignore such things.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

kyushubill, well said. I agree 100%.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Where does it say that in the law books and the Constitution?

Ethnicity is not a legal issue.

ethnicity

noun, plural eth·nic·i·ties.

an ethnic group; a social group that shares a common and distinctive culture, religion, language, or the like

Japanese are a social group that share a common and distinctive culture, religion (Shinto) and language. It literally fits the textbook definition of an ethnicity.

Only the right-wingers believes in that rubbish.

What? I'm as left-wing as it gets. But that's neither here nor there, this isn't a political issue. It's an issue of definition, language and culture.

I repeat: Being Japanese is a matter of citizenship not race or ethnicity.

Why, because you say so? If it were only citizenship, and not ethnicity, then how could a single passport holding American be a Japanese-American? The Japanese would have to mean they are Japanese citizens.

Sorry, but your silly claims that it's not an ethnicity are empty. It's like trying to claim the sky is brown.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

aged and learned to speak Japanesefluently and now I just use being "half" to my advantage.

When I get stopped for a traffic offense, I can't speak Japanese (笑)

When salesmen come to the house I can't speak Japanese(笑)

And when I'm approached by a hostile gaijin I can't speak English.

I use the same tactics, and I'm not half! It works well in other countries - when I start speaking Japanese, the majority of people can't even figure out what language I may be speaking. But in some countries, a surprising number of sales people speak some Japanese.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

You could also not be a dick and talk to people. Or just ignore them.

I’m from West Virginia. I’ve heard so many dumb comments like “Are you married to your cousin” or “Can you read” from other Americans.

i didn’t feel the need to make a card for them. Don’t feel the need to make a card in Japan.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

“double” is plain wrong. They got 50% of their genes from each of us, no more.

I dislike the term double. But, to get a little pedantic, 'half' is just as incorrect at 'double' when speaking of genetics, as the genetic breakdown will almost never be exactly 50/50.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I disagree, and so do my "haafu" kids. This is entirely in the eye of the beholder.

Look, I have no problem with the term half or haafu myself. It's natural English, used in pretty much every nation I grew up in (I always described myself as half A, quarter B and quarter C, and no one blinked an eye).

But, we need to be careful about saying it's entirely in the eye of the beholder. Words can carry weight and historical context.

Take the N-word for example. You could say that people who get offended by it are stuck in their own heads, that it's in the eye of the beholder, but the fact is the word has some serious historical context.

Half/haafu does not have that same context now, but that doesn't mean it has no context. It's not entirely in the eye of the beholder. While I don't have a problem with the term myself, if my kids ever came to me and said they didn't want me to use it, I would take them up on that instantly. Because there would then be that context for me that my kids don't like it.

Now imagine if the half-Japanese populace came together and asked us to stop using that term - would it still be only in the eye of the beholder?

"Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me" is only true of physical pain.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The term half comes from the American derogatory Half Breed

No it doesn't. That's a very American-centric statement. I've described myself as half X my whole life. I'm not American, was not raised by Americans, nor have I ever meant an implication of negative American nuance of half-breed.

Get over yourself on that one.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

@Strangerland

Please learn where the term originated in Japan! How you used it in your country has nothing to do with how it came into use in Japan. I am not American but in my country it was used to describe people like my grandmother Caucasian native American mix and never as a positive thing. Any Caucasian Japanese mix that went to public school in Japan with non Caucasian Japanese mixed classmates will tell you when half was used referring to the non Caucasian Japanese mixes it was never as a compliment.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Please learn where the term originated in Japan!

Well, I read your post. I just don't buy it.

The term half-breed likely came to the racists naturally due to the meaning of the word 'half'. That doesn't mean all uses of the word half came from 'half-breed'.

I'm open though. Provide some proof to support your assertion of the origins of the term in Japan.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Here is something to think about! Most not all but most here are thinking Half the first thing they see in their head is a Caucasian Japanese mix and say why would anyone be upset Japanese think halfs are cute/pretty etc...

Well sorry to break the news to many Caucasian Japanese halfs are the minority, most so-called halfs in Japan are not Caucasian but mostly from other Asian countries like the Philippines, Thailand, China, and others are from mixed with those that came back often already mixed from south America.

These mixes are in no way treated the same as Caucasian mixes very far from it. It would Neva very rare situation for them to be called half and it be meant as cute/pretty or any other positive view. Don't believe me go and ask them my children went to school with many non Caucasian mixes and they quickly noticed how differently they were treated compared to my children.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I normally don't mind those questions as Japanese do this to each other all the time - so I just play along.

I just answer their questions and then ask question for question personal info? Are you married? Where are your kids now? How much money do you make? Where do you live? What is your historical level within Japanese society? What did you pay for your house/apartment? How did you afford that? etc. It is same thing just in reverse - great conversation starter!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Strangerland

I don't need to provided any proof, just ask a few simple questions that simple logic can answer. Prior to the occupation did the Japanese use English or English terms? No. Where do most older English words used on a semi regular basis come from? Well not USA TV or movies back then, they came from the military occupation forces. Like the often heard orai orai orai as someone direct a truck backing up which came from all right, all right, that young Japanese men like my children's grandfather learned to use to get a tip from troops by helping them park or navigate a Narrow Street in Tokyo. Logic is that it was not taught in English classes no teacher especially a foreign teacher would have thought hey this sound like a good thing to teach the Japanese. Anyone that knows Japan's history knows that most borrowed words prior to occupation came from Spanish, Portuguese or Dutch not English. But then my best source is my children's 95 year old grandfather a retired national university professor and he said the term entered into the Japanese vocabulary just after the war along with the children fathered by USA service men and Japanese women.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Unlike Europe or Latin America, the US has the one-drop rule which means that if you have just a tiny amount of black dna, you are considered black. This is why Obama is considered to be Black and not half-black or half-white. In parts of Latin America, you can have some black ancestry but people around you may not consider you black.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

You are comparing oranges and apples. Don’t try to place your silly western laws here with lawsuits etc. most wouldn’t be able to afford it. 98% of country is Japanese. 2% other. We are in the minority and nothing we can do will change that. If it bothers you that much, move to America or another melting pot. Don’t try to change a country because it bothers you, leave! Same as in the states, Australia, Canada, China etc.

I am white, have grown children and grandchildren here and have adapted to society for over 20 years. Of course there are things that I’m not fond of, but I chose to live here and will adhere to their laws and rules. Small price to pay for a peaceful country and minimal crime for my family.

good article to read, but just something to pass the time.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

JR should make a poster of that card and put it up in all stations and all trains. That would solve the problem in just a few years. But, Japan won't have many western tourists for several years, so I guess that's a dumb suggestion.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Until Japan accepts dual citizenship, there will be questions asking "which do you prefer ?".

This society can't understand you can have two cultures at the same time until you allow dual citizenship.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

People are genuinely curious about her background and she takes offense. I always gladly explain any questions about myself to those with curiosity, it helps to better understand other cultures. This lady is rude amd if someone were to give me a card like that I wouldn't continue conversing with such person.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@El Rata Are you Japanese or Japanese mix? If no then nothing you said or how you "always gladly explain any questions about myself to those with curiosity"is irrelevant. How many times does this have to be said she is Japanese not some temp gaijin living here, so not the same not even close!

When was the last time in your own contry did anyone you just met ask you what your ethnic background was or that of your parents? Note the question everyone: In Your Home Country!!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

For those that say Japanese don't understand or don't discriminate our are just not used to mixes foreigners, etc... Let me tell you a little story: several years back I entered an international design contest here in Japan, I was one of the top finalist. The organisation had a brief ceremony at their at their headquarters for the finalist and winners the grand prize was won by a man from the USA (actually an immigrant to the USA) after that we moved to a small banquet hall in a famous Ginza restaurant for a larger ceremony! Now being divorced at the time my plus one was my 17 year old daughter (why not free meal why waste it). Well at the Ginza restaurant the guest of honor grand prize winner who flew all the way from the USA, my daughter and I were stopped at the entrance and told the restaurant has a no gaijin policy, now remember this is a banquet and the winner and I are guest and to receive prizes at the banquet! Well if you think the organiser made a fuss or demanded we be let in then you are wrong. My daughter said to the restaurant manager that she was mixed and a Japanese citizen his face turned pale and said then we have no choice but to let you in but not the 2 gaijins, not sorry no choice by law and they did not like the idea. So the event organisers gave the cash prize to the winner in front of the restaurant gave me and my daughter some cash and ft or the 3 of us to go out somewhere else and have dinner. The banquet was held without the guest of honor the grand prize winner. They knew very well what they did and didn't care the fact they knew that not letting my daughter a Japanese citizen in would have been illegal makes that quite clear. So the 3 of us left to eat elsewhere, I tried to explain to this man that this was not typical of Japan but it fell hollow and he said he would never return and would tell everyone he knew to avoid Japan. So no the Japanese are not unaware they just don't care or see a problem in doing all these things because it doesn't affect them.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

My kids, who are now almost 30, have never in their lives had an issue with people asking questions about their ethnicity. They get the same questions in the US as this woman gets here, but they don't get the same qustions here. They are culturally Japanese, where this woman clearly isn't. Therein lies the problem.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Now imagine if the half-Japanese populace came together and asked us to stop using that term - would it still be only in the eye of the beholder?

Strangerland, you make some good points, but I have to disagree on this. Just because a large group decided they don’t like it, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be okay to use. Some people are okay with it. Don’t they have as much right to say it’s okay to use?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

My daughter said to the restaurant manager that she was mixed and a Japanese citizen his face turned pale and said then we have no choice but to let you in but not the 2 gaijins, not sorry no choice by law and they did not like the idea.

I'm sorry this happened to you antiquesaving. I have said this for a long time but I think the change in attitudes has to start from the top. This is why I have long advocated for a visible member of the royal family to marry a non-Japanese similar to how Prince Harry marrying Meghan Markle helped changed British opinions. A hafu member of Japanese royalty will advance the cause I think.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@expat That is interesting. My children were raised here in Japan minus a very short and unpleasant time in North America where they were clearly shunned and discriminated against by the so-called pure Asian community and the you are not really xyz stuff. In Japan the vast majority see them just as Japanese that look slightly different. But as I previously mentioned 90% of their problems come from 2 things the police regularly stopping them asking to prove they are Japanese and local city offices asking the same even going beyond asking for a new kosekitohon, oddly the national government offices have never been a problem not even immigration when leaving or returning to Japan. But those are my children and as my daughter put it, she is Caucasian mix and for her non Caucasian mix friends it is a very different story, the troubles they have are seriously not nice or good. We keep forgetting that the majority of mixed people in Japan are not Caucasian mixes and anyone that has been here for ant length of time knows their is a very big difference in how western Gaijin are treated compared to non western (Asia Africa south America).

3 ( +5 / -2 )

All readers back on topic. Please focus your comments on the woman in the story and her idea of having cards made.

The card is a reaction a tool she feels she needs because of all the problems so-called halfs have to deal with. The card does not exist in a vacuum it is not a reaction to just a single little issue or problem but a combination of accumulated problems from looks, gender, ethnicity and the preconceived idea of society towards the different ethnicities. "her idea of having the card made" No! Her feeling the NEED to have the card made.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

This is just about understanding the way Japanese people think, why there,s such discrimination and how they view the rest of the world. ... ... everybody knows that a foreigner will never be considered a real Japanese ( not even haafu ), but, depending on where they come from, the way they,re treated can be considerably different. this girl ( who made the card ) is half ( white ) american, half Japanese... so these annoying questions are just one of the small problems she will ever get from living in Japan as a mixed person. maybe she is overreacting, maybe she isn,t. but, as i said in my previous comment, i wonder if she is aware that racism in Europe and the US can be much harder to deal with. maybe if she had experienced racism in Europe or the US, she wouldn,t even think about making this card, because at the end of the day it is just some annoying questions, the same kind of questions everyone makes when meeting someone for the first time.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Never ending silly questions: reason #1 I decided to be self-employed from year 2 in Japan. Better decision of my life. Can't imagine people answering the very same questions for years and years without any prospect it will change

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My daughter said to the restaurant manager that she was mixed and a Japanese citizen his face turned pale and said then we have no choice but to let you in but not the 2 gaijins, not sorry no choice by law and they did not like the idea. 

Thats when you explain that you, too, are “half”. Problem solved.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Of course a touchy subject, but here goes.

Covering up the fact the far too many Japanese have a rather dense attitude when it comes to questions of "us" and "them" with the good old "not having much direct experience with foreigners" just doesn't cut it with me. It's more in the vicinity of not caring enough. I'm Swedish. I live in Japan. When I grew up in the 70s and 80s we didn't have a single foreigner come to any of our schools. Still no-one in my class was ever said to be "half" of anything. (And while I myself don't get questions about being "half" I might soon make a card explaining that I'm not American.)

What surprises me more is how many times I've heard that phrase being used in Japanese schools without the teacher interfering. If you're a biology or science teacher, how do you explain the concept of "half"? If you're a social science teacher? If you're not speaking up at that point, you're really not doing your job in my opinion.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I never get tired of being asked the same questions again and again since I find that some great discussions can result from them.

Sometimes, the locals get surprised by how I view their country though.

Also, I would argue that the more foreign travel and education an individual is exposed to then the concept of ethnicity begins to fade.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What surprises me more is how many times I've heard that phrase being used in Japanese schools without the teacher interfering. If you're a biology or science teacher, how do you explain the concept of "half"?

Half your DNA from your father, half from your mother. What exactly is the problem here? I would rather have a problem with this PC concept of "double". What exactly is that supposed to mean? A siamese twin? That would be the only situation where it would even remotely make sense.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I am white born in the uk to a south african mother and nz father but have japanese citizenship, my kids struggle to understand how I have blue eyes but have a Japanese passport, so I can undestand the average person on the street asking me if I speak japanese.

Things take time, this woman needs to learn patience

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Covering up the fact the far too many Japanese have a rather dense attitude when it comes to questions of "us" and "them"

The language requires it, by having to determine whether the person being spoken to and/or about is ingroup/outgroup. It's not an attitude that they have, it's a mindset dictated by the structure of their language.

That doesn't mean we can't be a part of their 'us', it just depends on the group. If you are in a company with someone, speaking to someone from another company, you will be included in 'us', and the person from the other company is 'them'.

But when the 'us' is the ethnic group of Japanese people, people who aren't ethnically Japanese will never be part of that group.

It's really not that big a deal though.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Half your DNA from your father, half from your mother. What exactly is the problem here? I would rather have a problem with this PC concept of "double".

With that argument, you should also have a problem with 'half', as almost never will someone be a perfect 50/50 breakdown of their parent's DNA. So if you're choosing your language based on DNA, neither half nor double is correct.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

People just ask questions to start a conversation. Maybe they find her attractive. Most halves in the world of different cultures have nice features. Lashes become curly, longer and more prominent. She should not be defensive. It is irritating to answer the same questions. But it happens to everyone. Even within its own countrymen who will ask: “where are you from in .....” This person is just conscious.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Erik Morales

That must really be annoying. I would have fun with it, i would say 

It is annoying if you want it to be annoying. Otherwise it is just part of normal social interaction here. Yes, you can have fun with it, but why? All you do is extend the time where the conversation is about you, and not about something interesting.

Notice that even the natives ask each other interview questions like that, to establish some mutual ground. What prefecture are you from, how long have you been in Tokyo, etc etc). The gaijin version of that is not as unique as you might imagine. In many Western cultures you can jump directly into some talk about a topic, without establishing some personal background first. In Japan, that is just not done usually.

So, mountain or molehil?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

There are people who constantly go on and on and on about their double heritage, who can't say a sentence without starting it with "as a person of _____ heritage .....", who makes sure that every single one of their friends and colleagues, and everyone in their social media circle, know exactly what their heritage is and how proud they are of it....

But a random person who doesn't know them meets them off-line asks them about it, and suddenly they are shrieking "racism!!!!".

3 ( +6 / -3 )

When did children cease saying "haro"? It really seems to have stopped rather suddenly...I used to think that being talked up on trains likewise ended in much the same way. It may be, however, that age is a factor, that I am simply much too old and much too uninteresting...In the old days (I now shudder!), I would reply to questions in English about my homeland with: "I am Troglodyte, from Traglodia. Ees very small country, east Europe." It was worse than silly; it was mean. When I think about the utter madness in America, about the obsession with "race" and "identity," about mobs tearing down statues of people about whom they know nothing, I feel very grateful for my Japanese passport. (Who would think of attacking Hachiko?) Those of us who "look different" in this country have it vastly better than just a few years ago, and it was never so dreadful to begin with. I am not unsympathetic with "haafu": I brought up several myself, and they tell me that whereas I chose to be here, they did not. Fine. But we really do need a sense of proportion.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I honestly could not bring myself to tell someone my kids are 'double'.

That's just double stupid.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

why are people getting caught up with labels? there isn't any need for mixed people to make any definitive decision regarding their identity until it comes time to adopt the funeral rites of either their mother or father's culture. in my case, i am leaving instructions to dump my body to be collected with wednesday's trash.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Definitely a finalist in the “Date From Hell” Competition

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I always told my daughters to say they were double. 2 passports, 2 cultural heritages, 2 languages, 2 points of view. Many more things too!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@Antiqusaving

You are literally contradicting yourself. Your direct response to me is one of, 'everything here is fine and we made the right choice to return to Japan'. In your next post, "My children get tired of it and they should as they are Japanese and citizens."

So are your children tired of labels or not?

My daughter is not, because here, outside Japan, she never gets labelled it. As life should be.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

On the subject of race versus ethnicity, I defer to the dictionary. Race is primarily about physical characteristics, and is determined at conception by genetics. Ethnicity is determined after birth, and is a consequence of culture.

It is not surprising that there are different races. Racial, or physical, characteristics are due to gene drift over time, with preference for survival given to the genes that are most advantageous in a specific location.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

While on vacation in San Francisco we came across a little shop that sold miniature flags, and stands in which to place them. We tried to buy a stand to hold a flag from all the places that our family comes from, but they didn't make stands that big.

In order to represent all the places from which our family comes, we would need flags from Japan, Scandinavia, Mexico, Spain, Poland, Israel, Pakistan, Greece, and Russia. And that is just off the top of my head. The modern family in the USA, and especially in California, is thus represented.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In order to represent all the places from which our family comes, we would need flags from Japan, Scandinavia, Mexico, Spain, Poland, Israel, Pakistan, Greece, and Russia. And that is just off the top of my head. The modern family in the USA, and especially in California, is thus represented.

Yes. Our family would be Japan, Italy. Persia, France, Germany, Estonia, Holland, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Jamaica, America.

People all but one.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

how stupid are people, while JAPANESE were doing BLACK LIVES MATER RALLY,,as a fake show of support, as they think its COOL..they discriminate so much against their own HAFU..shame on Japanese people.

education in Japan is fake and old.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

"Japanese is an ethnicity as well as a nationality." No it's not. Besides the law, which says if you are a citizen you are Japanese, there is at least one major and distinct Japan ethnicity that doesn't fit into the right-wing stereotype what a Japan is supposed to be. The Ainu people. The Ainu have their own language and culture. This is acknowledged by the Japanese government.

A case could be made for the people of Okinawa, as they were once citizens of an independent nation.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

If I become Japanese I will be a national but my ethnicity would remain British.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I forgot about my Dutch grandmother, and the in-laws with French and Italian blood.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

jeancolmar:

"Japanese is an ethnicity as well as a nationality." No it's not

In legal terms not, in colloquial language, yes. No need to be dogmatic about that.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Kniknaknokkaer

I honestly could not bring myself to tell someone my kids are 'double'.

That's just double stupid.

Ditto! Cant agree more.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

hmm..i'm 1/2 french and 1/2 japanese.

never felt the term 'half' was offensive nor used with ill intention.

sure people ask if my eyelashes are real, but it's meant to be a compliment.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The back of the card is absolutely brilliant, and I bet when most of the people read that part they throw it away and just reinforce the "S/he's not Japanese!" in anger, but it might actually make them think twice about their way of asking things and directly or indirectly alienating people, or just keep them from asking at all as it often involves an innate desire to express superiority by asking about differences.

In any case, Anna forgot the "Can you use chopsticks? Hai, dekimasu".

I am sick and tired of the same questions constantly as an in for curious people to actually ask you/talk about what they want to talk about ("Oh! You can use chopsticks? How wonderful! And great Japanese! So, can you explain BLM and do you support it?"), I can only imagine how painful it is to be told you're "Half", asked personal questions the asker would NEVER ask someone they know is "whole", and then ultimately watch the person decide you are fundamentally not Japanese if they don't like your answers, and if you don't choose the Japanese "half" of you as the superiority part in all their inferiority-complex questions of comparison.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

can only imagine how painful it is to be told you're "Half", 

it isn't painful (personally speaking) knowing the term half isn't meant 1/2 in japanese language (forget the original english meaning).

it makes me 'me'.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Strangerland: "Why do you ignore that Japanese is not only a nationality, it's an ethnicity?"

Why do Japanese ignore what you claim when it comes to Ainu? or in many cases the Okinawan people?

"Does one automatically become ethnically Japanese when they take on Japanese citizenship?"

They absolutely do become Japanese, 100% yes, except in the eyes of complete bigots. Same as when a Japanese or anyone else naturalises and becomes American, Australian, or what have you -- they are 100% that nationality. And in many cases, if you want to argue "ethnicity", I know more people of foreign background who naturalised or who still hold a foreign nationality who know more about Japan and it's traditional and modern culture and history than MOST Japanese do, and possibly some who know more than all, which according to your argument would make the Japanese only half or so.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

fishy: Problem is that many indeed do mean "half", and if they are mistaken for being Haafu or foreign they will snap back, "Jun-Nihonjin desu!", sometimes quite angrily.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

smithinjapan

i kind of understand what you're saying.,but i don't necessarily agree with that comment.

being mistaken for 'hafu' is somehow a compliment in most cases, i said 'most' because i am aware that there are discrimination towards certain nationalities.

but the term 'hafu' isn't meant to be bad and i certainly don't feel that way.

those silly questions we get, i normally tell them everyone asks me, and that literally ends that initial phase.,moving onto regular talks :)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I remember a encounter at the main post office in shizuoka probably 20 years ago when my j-wife and I were mailing something to my family back home. The postal clerk asked my j-wife if she was Japanese or could speak Japanese. She was so ticked off that I had to restrain her from jumping across the counter and beating the you know what out of that idiot. Lol life is a trip isn't it so

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

They absolutely do become Japanese, 100% yes

Smith claims taking on Japanese citizenship means one also becomes 100% Japanese ethnically.

Wow, that's the type of 'logic' we're dealing with folks.

Same as when a Japanese or anyone else naturalises and becomes American, Australian, or what have you

Those are words that only relate to nationality, and not ethnicity. So they aren't equivalent to the word 'Japanese', which refers to both a nationality and an ethnicity.

if you want to argue "ethnicity", I know more people of foreign background who naturalised or who still hold a foreign nationality who know more about Japan and it's traditional and modern culture and history than MOST Japanese do

"If you want to argue ethnicity..." he starts of with, to follow it up with a bunch of comments that have nothing to do with ethnicity.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Vernon

Bet if she was drop-dead gorgeous she wouldn't mind the attention and questions. Instead, she is trying to get some attention (or seeing perceived racism) out of people's natural curiosity. Although I am a white American I get asked where I'm from by people I don't know in Japan; its no big deal and a good conversation starter. She needs to lighten up or leave Japan...

It's too bad that you didn't read the comments that came before yours. If so, you probably wouldn't have posted what you did. (Although maybe you still would have.) I won't rehash the relevant comments here, but if you would like to become more informed, I suggest you go back and do some reading.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have found that a good response to, "Can you use chopsticks?" or "You use chopsticks very well." is "Yes / Thank you, I went to chopsticks school in Canada." After the typical 'eeeeh' (the surprise kind, not the doubtful kind) or 'really', I smile and tell them that I am joking and that I ate a lot of Chinese food growing up. The Japanese always get a good chuckle/laugh out of being fooled and it's a gentle and positive way of 'educating' them.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

We aren't currently living in Japan, but my kids, who are half Japanese, never get this question outside of Japan. Ever. From anyone.

But when we are in Japan, which is quite often, it comes up constantly. It's a constant dialogue that sort of follows us around wherever we are, including with family, and it bothers me. I am fully aware it is certainly going to be an issue for them in the future and is going to make them feel at odds with Japan.

So when I am in Japan I tell my kids they are double, not half. I have told other that too, and they just stare blankly at me like I am an Alien. Which I am.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Obnoxious girl who will give other haafu a bad name. People are just trying to be friendly and make conversation.

Many people have real problems out there. When she’s an old woman she’ll look back and realize she was silly.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I think that her reaction is understandable from her point of view. She was asked a question, she gave a response, it should be accepted. But it is human nature to be interested in others. But the nature or purpose of the interest should be what matters . If someone asks me a question based on my looks I ask them why they want to know. Do they ask because they have an unbias interest or do they ask because they need to make a snap decision as to my worthiness as a person?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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