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It ain’t easy being a bilingual girl

by Kaori Shoji

Special To The Japan Times

This bilingual thing … they say that it’s a both curse and a blessing. Watakushigotode kyōshukudesuga (私事で恐縮ですが, A thousand pardons for having the gall to talk about myself), but I think of it more like a stigma. It’s not the same for millenials — they were born and raised in a kinder and more lenient Japan, whereas us old-timer eigo-tsukai (英語使い, English-speakers) have had it tough since day one.

Being a Japanese teenager trying to survive in last century’s school system was tough enough, but a Japanese teenager who had spent a chunk of time in the United States and must survive in the ikiuma no me wo nuku (生き馬の目を抜く, the equivalent of gouging out the eyes of a horse) environment of a public school classroom — perhaps the term chō kibishii (超きびしい, extremely severe) will fit the bill.

Recently, I was told that kikoku (キコク, returnees, or kids who have spent time overseas) was now a neutral word, and even has positive connotations. Back in the 20th century, a returnee was considered different, weird, wakaranai (わからない, incomprehensible). To be able to speak a foreign language ryūchō ni (流暢に, fluently) while being Japanese at one and the same time just wasn’t cool. In fact it was closer to being yucky.

It was tougher for boys. My brothers learned very quickly that scoring 100 in English earned no respect and kept girls (the pretty, fun ones especially) away. What counted was stuff like getting the regulā (レギュラー, starting member) slot in the yakyūbu (野球部, baseball team), or owning one’s very own baiku (バイク, motorcycle) and letting it rip on some bōsōzoku (暴走族, motorcycle gang) strip in Chiba or Shonan. Failing in both, my brothers decided to delete their entire pasts and pretend they couldn’t speak a single word of English. The ploy worked. In a few months their facial expressions and body language had completely changed. If the school had given out awards for assimilation, my brothers would have taken home every one.

For girls, the big obstacle to assimilation was our penchant for freedom and having a good time. Now of course, tanoshimukoto (楽しむこと, enjoying oneself) is a phrase bandied about by everyone from shōgakusei (小学生, grade schoolers) to daijin (大臣, Cabinet ministers). But 30 years ago anyone who behaved too freely and got around was under suspicion. A real Japanese was supposed to kurō (苦労, suffer), don’t ask why. As a kikoku jyoshi (キコク女子, returnee girl), I just didn’t get it. And by the time the office memo about the suffering thing came around, it was too late.

I was a henna yatsu (変なやつ, bizaare one) who could give a gaijin (外人, foreigner) directions in English but was clueless in every other aspect of Japanese life. I couldn’t even do rajio taisō (ラジオ体操, radio exercises) without bumbling up the sequence and was convinced that chōrei (朝礼, morning roll call and lecture) was an invention of the Spanish Inquisition imported to Japan to make us feel like miserable bugs to be crushed under the shoe of the kōchōsensei (校長先生, high-school principal).

For the record, a kikoku’s social life wasn’t all that great either. Taidoga dekai (態度がでかい, having a big attitude) is one of the banes of the kikoku’s overall image, and for this reason the really nice, well-bred kids tended to stay away. One day in ninth grade my best friend gave me a letter to call off the friendship; her mother thought I was contaminating her daughter and any further relations would damage her chances of succeeding at kōkō jyuken (高校受験, high school entrance exams). It was the first time I fully understood that being different in Japan came with a certain price tag. Very literally, one couldn’t have one’s cake and eat it too.

Interestingly, being a hāfu (ハーフ, half Japanese) has never had the same stigma of being a kikoku. A hāfu was the coolest thing a nihonjin (日本人, Japanese person) could be. Just witness the number of mixed-race idoru (アイドル, idols) and tarento (タレント, celebrities) crowding the media (my favorite is Anna Tsuchiya). In college, some of my girlfriends would say that marrying a gaijin was the surest, quickest way to social success and adorable children. Ayako, who practiced exactly what she preached, gave birth to three adorable hāfu children and said: “Kodomo ni ichiban ii mirai wo ageta” (「子供に一番いい未来をあげた」”I gave the best possible future to my kids”). As soon as they were old enough, she enrolled them in a tarento ējenshī (talent agency) specializing in mixed-race kids. One of them now appears in a detergent commercial.

The kikoku, on the other hand, often wind up leaving the country. There’s at least one kid in every returnee family who refuses to fit in and flees as soon as s/he can get their hands on a plane ticket.

In our own family, we secretly pined to be jyun-japa (純ジャパ). In kikoku-speak that’s “purebred Japanese,” or someone completely uncontaminated.

  • yoyo

    As a ハーフ I have to say that I disagree that it does not have stigma and I think the concept of ハーフ being cool is a much more recent thing. I am stared at wherever I go in Japan and people insist on trying to speak to me in English because they think I won’t understand Japanese. Appearance wise, I don’t fit in and in even in Tokyo I have had people shout ‘gaijin’ across the street.

    • Kazuhisa Nakatani

      I think this article and your experience do not contradict each other.

      帰国子女(returnees under age of 20) used to be odd-man-out, because they didn’t understand the notorious 暗黙の了解(unstated rules) even though they perfectly appeared to be Japanese. On the other hand, the ハーフ(mixed-race) boys and girls fell onto 外人(foreigners) category due to their appearance — although they were born and raised in Japan, and had Japanese citizenship in most cases. Like it or not, being 外人 works as license to be awkward in Japanese social context, and the author seems to believe it’s better than returnees’ situation.

      The Japanese people are very kind to 客(visitors), but that kindness entails certain distance in communication. I assume you have felt alienated by the unnecessary visitor treatment, but I can also imagine why the returnees longed for the license that free you from 暗黙の了解.

      By the way, as a “purebred Japanese” who hardly have overseas experience, I have always felt suffocated in the Japanese community in which 同調圧力(peer pressure; i.e. you have to be the same as others) was strong and rampant — 空気(atmosphere, or unstated public opinion, agreement etc.) was the ruthless dictator of the society.

      It was a lose-lose situation for all of us. I am glad the situation is now changing for the better, or is it?

  • Ben Yoshida

    it was only in 2008, that the Ainu people were recognized, politically, as a separate ethnic entity.. It is not surprising that society would ostracize individuals, who in their eyes, are different. I apologize, Ms/Mrs Shoji, for the suffering you had to endure, in a nation that prides itself on its unity, and conformity, at the loss, of its humility.

  • Heidi

    As interesting as this article may be, it is also PAINFUL to read. The romaji is not only unnecessary, but also misspelled half the time. It completely distracts from the entire message of the article. What’s the point aside from complaining that you were different growing up? What are you expecting from people? No matter how old you are, going back to your home country after living in another for a long time completely changes your perspective, your views on life, society and the world is completely different. So, what are we trying to say to the world outside of “poor me”?

    • Bob

      Um … go to the top of the article. Click the blue text that says BILINGUAL. Feel silly as you realize that all BILINGUAL articles in the Japan Times are written this way, and your hatred for the writer marks you a nitpicky bigot. Cheers!

      • Heidi

        “Nitpicky” isn’t even a real word. If you are going to be childish and insult someone, you might as well use proper English as to not to sound like an imbecile.

      • long term resident

        Heidi,
        Nitpicky is a real word http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/nitpicky?s=t
        Who’s the imbecile now?

      • Heidi

        Haha, you win.

    • Masa Chekov

      Heidi, the romaji is there because the main purpose of the article is a Japanese lesson. A lot of early learners of Japanese cannot read kanji or even kana.

      I always enjoy Ms Shoji’s articles, by the way, this one included.

      • Heidi

        The article itself IS interesting, but like I said the romaji distracts from the article and takes away from the message.
        I’ve never read a “bilingual” article from this site before, and after this I am not really inclined to try again.

      • Masa Chekov

        But Heidi, the message IS the romaji/kana/kanji. It’s not clear if these Bilingual articles are even intended to convey a true story with a real message. I’ve always read them with an eye towards learning how normal Japanese words and phrases function in a typical situation. They are very useful for this purpose.

        Anyway of course don’t read if you do not enjoy the articles, but I think if you are a learner of Japanese you will find some useful information to grow your skills. Just my opinion, though.

      • Heidi

        The formatting of this webpage is so odd that the kanji refuses to show up, so I didn’t even know that there WAS kanji until other people mentioned it.
        That aside, I understand your point, that these articles are supposed to teach Japanese. Though I feel that it would be much more beneficial to any Japanese learner to have a full English and Japanese version. Learning new words is nice, but if your aim is to sound more native the best way is to see how these words are used in a sentence. Otherwise it’s not functioning more than a fancy dictionary.

    • http://www.tadaimatte.com/ Ashley Haley

      Someone is clearly looking at a JT bilingual article for the first time…

      • Heidi

        Indeed, and it will be the last time, too. My friend sent this to me because she thought I would be interested, and I had serious difficulties getting through the headache even though I was interested in the topic.

  • Lily Queen

    The grass is greener on the other side of the fence, right? I think *talking* about how cool multiracial people are is, unfortunately, much more common than actually being accepting of them. (And the fact that they’re in demand for media only shows how othered and exocitized they still are.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.christianson.790 Mark Christianson

    As a white kid who grew up in and attended public school in rural Japan, my experience was easier overall, so I cannot pretend to understand the difficulty of trying to fit in as a kikoku. However, I think it is important that Japan openly talk about its social perceptions and prejudices and how it wants to educate its next generation.

    If Abe and MEXT get serious about improving ethics education in Japan, I sincerely hope they will have several lessons on respecting diversity and valuing those who have different backgrounds and ideas.

  • Ian

    I’m of the opinion that the writer of this article has embellished her whole story. I fail the believe that her brothers “pretended” not to understand English in order to “fit in”. and that she (the writer) endured the kind of treatment she describes. Indeed if this story was written in 1950′s Japan I would concur and empathize but clearly it is purely sensationalism. Japanese students would, for the most part, have been envious of her and her brothers’ English skills and you can be sure requests from various mothers for private lessons would have been many. The writer is obviously pontificating and self-aggrandizing her importance. In short, she is bragging and wants everyone to know she’s bi-lingual..

    • Bob

      What qualifies you to comment on this? Your comment is rather mean-spirited and given that you don’t qualify yourself as half, kikoku, or even a long-term resident of Japan, one wonders at why exactly you feel so certain that things were different than the author says. Put bluntly, you weren’t there and it’s very condescending how “sure” you are that your version of reality is the correct one.

    • deborah

      I have to assume you are NOT familiar with the Japanese school system. My daughter attended Japanese public school until 8th grade (last year). While on the surface the kids and teachers will welcome you and say positive things, at a deeper level where it counts they will dis you for being a fluent English speaker and punish you for not being a pureblood Japanese. Even in English class! I find it incomprehensible how you made the leap from what Ms. Shoji shared to your cruel and unnecessary diatribe against her. Perhaps you missed your calling as a member of the Spanish Inquisition.

      • Glen Douglas Brügge

        I volunteered to teach an English class at a middle school in Tokyo; there was one girl who spoke perfect English, she could have possibly been mixed, and she was constantly being picked on for being fluent – not horribly, but you could see the jealously of some in the remarks they made. I felt that she gravitated towards me for want of someone who might understand where she was from. I truly felt badly for her.

    • Alex

      I disagree. As a (current!) teacher in public school, I have witnessed firsthand students who I know to be fluent pretending not to speak a word of English. Sometimes it has happened with “half” Japanese students, and sometimes with full Japanese kids who have been studying English from a young age. These students never, ever raise their hand in English class, and if called upon some even change their accent to sound more Japanese. This is a real (sad, frustrating) thing.

      • leaf

        “never, ever raise their hand in English class, and if called upon some even change their accent to sound more Japanese” I’m a returnee and I used to do the exact same thing! I hated the “sugoi”s and murmurs of “admiration” I’d get from fellow students after being called on to read a passage out loud so I tried a more Japanese accent. That actually didn’t work for me (I got stuck because I didn’t know which katakana sounds were “appropriate” to use) so I ended up going back to reading with a normal accent as fast as I can-just to get it over with. Everyone was generally really nice and I never had any problems but in a Japanese classroom being a kikokushijo is just plain uncomfortable.

    • kyushuphil

      You’re wrong, Ian.

      Here where I’m living now in my fifth year, teaching at a school in the mountains of Kyushu, I can inform you that the entire adult culture here is uninterested in English — and it warps the kids.

      Earlier on, kids are open to much. But by the time they get to high school, the damage is done. Everyone wants only to be a conformist. This accompanies destruction of all individuality. Personal silence — “damari-komu” — rules. As for English, it may be required in high school (and junior high) but teachers present it as a dead language. Most classses just to emphasize the habits of rote learning, regimentation, and teacher-always-speaking-Japanese — even for English. English teachers don’t travel. They read no books in English.

      This area has many professional people who went to college and had English there. But, as they had it in high school, too, it was all for nothing, a total waste of time, total waste of state resources. No one wants it. Except maybe wherever it is you live.

    • Perry Constantine

      I think your opinion is misguided. Just because you haven’t personally seen this sort of thing doesn’t mean it didn’t happen to her. Everyone has different experiences growing up. And the bi-lingual is because this is a language article.

      I worked in Japanese public schools for five years. I’ve seen kids who can speak to me in English just fine one-on-one then go on to play dumb in class and act as if they don’t speak a single word of English. And that’s post-2000. Especially for boys.

  • Robert Murphy

    How a haafu or kikoku is regarded fully depends upon the specific people, exact location, and specific time (era) the judgement is taking place. I’m in my 40s, spent most of my haafu life in Japan, and have seen the entire spectrum of reactions to ‘being haafu’ and/or kikoku, first hand. In short, Its silly to bicker about whether being haafu or kikoku is seen as cool or un-cool when if fully depends upon synthesis of the people, time, and place the judgement is occurring. (that said, there is a very serious problem with most Japanese schools when it comes to proficient English speakers, whether haafu or kikoku; there are very few schools here that have well-designed support systems for native or native-like english speakers. It does seem to force a dumbing-down of the English in a significant number of them on many levels. This IS a major problem that should be more seriously addressed.)

  • Bob Roberts

    Maybe you should sue your parents for being わがまま and taking a 仕事
    overseas. They seem like very ひどい people for forcing you to grow up in a
    外国. Perhaps you can start an organization to prevent other Japanese 両親
    from doing the same. 帰国子女=虐待. It ain’t easy writing for the Japan Times. Especially when all the hafu’s have it so much better. Most of them are making more money by appearing on TV.

  • Bob Roberts

    Maybe Japanese parents should work harder to prepare 帰国子女 to readjust to life in Japan. Both of your parents are Japanese, right? You grew up in a Japanese household. It seems like they took jobs overseas without preparing you for the eventual return. Yes, it is hard work..but it was their responsibility to prepare you for any difficulties. Maybe they didn’t do enough research.

  • nikky

    Heidi hits the nail on the head. Whatever the point of the article (I couldn’t finish), the mixed language usage is not only bad form when speaking, it’s a headache to read. This isn’t a “Finnegan’s Wake” kind of headache either; this is torturous to read without any upside.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hiromi.t.tanaka Hiromi Tama Tanaka

    I married an American and my daughter is ハーフ/Half. For me, marrying American was an easier choice because it feels comfortable to adjust from tighter culture to a looser one. But reverse is tough. American woman marrying a Japanese man or, students studied in the US going back to Japanese school system. At a Japanese school where one class is consists of max of 40 students, everyone should simply sit still and memorize what teacher says quietly just like others. If everyone started to express their difference, the teacher cannot manage the class. But in the US, class is usually max of 25. From the childhood, presenting your interest and project starting from show and tell at the kindergarten, is a norm. For presentation, it is not cool to be same as others, You have to be original. Accumulation of this difference could build up to be a difference in Japanese and American. Passive learning had served its part after the war by creating a human resource to produce all kinds of items with fixed standard at the factories. But time has changed. Those work has long gone to China and South East Asian countries. What Japan really needs now is a different talent of human resource. Someone who is able to express opinion and convince people in a fair manner. Someone who is creative who can create his/her own future and future of Japan.

    Kikoku-Shijo boys and girls. Do not let anyone put you down for your difference. You have to be different from others to be able to create your future and new future of Japan. But always be fare. As long as where you stand is fare, meaning you are not acting only for your own benefit but also for others, then you are free to say anything and do anything at all. It doesn’t matter what nationality you are, just be a free yourself.

    Kikoku shijo is lucky to have chances for Relative Evaluation of different culture since it is almost impossible to evaluate our own while we are deeply in it. Again, time has changed and we are able to express what is wonderful and what needs to be improved for our own country. Time is with us for having such tools of SNS and network. Kikoku shijo is the bridge between conventional Japan to the global society. Please be ultimately expressive and creative! :) If you hesitate, you become a Weirdo. But if you stand strong, you become a Hero!!!

    • Bob Roberts

      You have a romanticized image of American schools. Not all American schools are good. Many of them are overcrowded. If you live in a good neighborhood then your children can attend a great school. But most schools in the USA are not as good as Japanese schools. Many American schools do not offer art or music classes. There is no brass band. Some don’t have club activities because of a lack of funds. A larger percentage of American schoolchildren cannot read or do basic math. Don’t disparage Japanese schools until you’ve seen American schools up close. Many ハーフ say that their Japanese school was MUCH better than their American school.

      • http://www.facebook.com/samuel.floreani Samuel Floreani

        To be fair, there is excellent stateside math education at the university level if you have any sort of major that requires it. The real problem is that the low-level education sort of sucks.

        In all honesty, my math skills weren’t up to par until I took Calculus in high school (something clicked, I guess) and I didn’t really become proficient with the stuff until about a year into my engineering degree (nothing like some differential equations to really put your feet to the fire, eh?).

  • Elvin Miguel

    prefer to know both languages… cool or not cool, so long as you can speak and understand the language properly is a must…

  • Bob Roberts

    My third comment…but this is not journalism. Where are your sources? The hafu’s such as Anna Tsuchiya who appear on TV are all exceptionally beautiful and handsome. Not all biracial children look like models. This is a MAJOR stereotype. (There are no biracial children who are fat or unattractive?) This is like saying kikoku have it easy because Utada Hikaru is a huge star. Your argument makes no sense.

  • smile

    Let’s be clear about something. The author wrote:

    “In college, some of my girlfriends would say that marrying a gaijin was the surest, quickest way to social success and adorable children”.

    Gaijin here means 欧米人. Let’s not pretend it could mean anything else. Asians of any colour don’t count. Africans do on occasion. I say this based on observation AND what the Japanese themselves told me.

  • riverguardian

    Erps. I’m a kikoku and I’m the one and (only) child in my family fleeing from Japan.

  • Glen Douglas Brügge

    I wonder if “being cool” for being ハーフ is due to the 見世物 (side-show freak) factor rather than because Japanese truly find people of mixed breeds a positive, and diversifying addition to their culture? When I was in Japan ハーフ were all over magazine covers – but somehow I got the impression that they were only presented as a curiosity. I might be totally wrong – certainly their families don’t see them this way, but when you start calling a race of people “cool” and “trendy” it creates this odd sense of distance – it objectifies them. But, being “trendy” at least makes you acceptable on some level, while being a returnee, you are seen as having turned your back on the group – and in Japan, once you step outside the group, you almost can never come back into the fold. I feel for those Japanese who have experienced this – I know many, but I never honestly asked them how they approached the matter of hiding their foreign lives.

  • http://amzn.to/madeindna Made in DNA

    This article was torture to read. You should have just used English.

  • http://twitter.com/claredery Clare Dery

    I’m a female Caucasian marrying a Japanese guy and planning to raise 2-3 ハーフs, or as I’m planning to call them, ‘mixed-kids’ in Japan. I do often worry about the upcoming arguments with my future husband and in-Laws about the Japanese education system, but I foresee just having to keep my own opinions to myself and hope my stubborn でかい態度 doesn’t rub off on them too much so they will appear to conform in school and have a happy school life. I plan to supplement their rote learning with my own lessons at home ̣(I’m a teacher anyway).
    Am I わがまま for planning to put my future kids through potential bullying and name-pointing on the streets? I don’t think so. Kids will always bully kids. I was bullied for my surname, cheap clothes and a silly hairstyle.There are more and more ハーフs in Japan these days ̣anyway (though mostly from Asian countries), and their native English may well lead them to a successful career when they’re older (and at least they won’t have to memorize Eiken English words parrot fashion on the train with those red blackout cards).

    • Bob Roberts

      I recommend the documentary Doubles by Regge Life. Most mixed kids in Japan are well-adjusted and comfortable being who they are Both of my kids are biracial. They love their schools and have lots of friends. It is not all rote memorization, despite what people think. I find that the parents often project their fears about Japanese society onto their kids. Speaking Japanese is all that counts. There are African, Indian and Brazilian kids in Japanese schools. Nobody bothers them as long as they can speak Japanese.

  • leaf

    I’m a kikokushijo. One thing I learned (that I’d like to pass onto fellow kikokushijos who are having trouble adjusting to Japanese culture) is that if you look Japanese, it’s best to look and act Japanese as much as possible and downplay the fact that you can speak English. Try to make it so that people would go “Oh, I almost forgot you’re a kikokushijo”. But then, people start to assume “Well, you’re a kikokushijo but you’re English isn’t all that good, right?” which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it means “You’re practically one of us”. On the other hand, downplaying your English ability so much that people start to assume you must suck at it does have it’s annoying moments. The best thing is to have a high TOEIC score or Eiken that you can unleash on people (a secret weapon!) when you feel that you deserve a bit of acknowledgment. Even then, though, don’t flaunt it, be shy about it. It’s all about being 謙虚. There are tons of English speaking people out in the world. Try to differentiate yourself from them by becoming an English-speaker with knowledge of and roots in Japan, as that’s the kind of person global society is looking for.

    • Bob Roberts

      How’s that working out for you? I bet you pretended not to know Japanese when you lived abroad. Am I right?

  • John Galt

    It’s almost as bad as being poor and ethnic in America.

  • OMGWTF

    I could not even read your article. Why on Earth do you think it is OK to constantly mix Japanese and English in your article? People who speak like this drive me crazy as it only serves to diminish your language ability. Choose one language and stick with it. Especially when writing an article. I would have been fine had you just written this entire article in Japanese or English, but you chose to write an article that made me stop reading after the first couple of sentences. Just like all these nuggets in the comments that are mixing Japanese and English. WHY DO IT? You can easily say the word “half” in English and it still means the same thing. There is no point, and peppering your English with the little Japanese you actually know is the whole reason why people in Japan assume no non-Asian foreigner can speak Japanese. STOP SCREWING UP OUR IMAGE. I have devoted a considerable amount of my life to studying the language only to have that cocked up by the people who think it’s cool/funny to pepper their English with Japanese.

    • Glen Douglas Brügge

      You do realize this article is “meant” to be written this way. Look at the category it is under, “Language.” It is essentially an article peppered with handy expressions for learners who want to expand their Japanese.

  • qwerty

    Calling mixed-race kids “half” is wrong – it implies that they are only 50% – 50% Japanese, and 50% something else – it doesn’t really matter what.

  • Inago

    Maybe peoples experiences are different depending upon the time and place and the people involved. Japan is not completely homogenous, despite the persistent use of “we Japanese” from native Japanese in English. Hopefully most people, the author included, realize that not all “kikoku” have the same experience; some communities are simply more open-minded than others.

    “A hāfu was the coolest thing a nihonjin (日本人, Japanese person) could be. Just witness the number of mixed-race idoru(アイドル, idols) and tarento (タレント, celebrities) crowding the media (my favorite is Anna Tsuchiya).”

    I suppose being black in the US during the 1950s was the coolest thing a person could be; just look at celebrities like Sammy Davis Jr, Jacky Robinson and Sidney Poitier… My 4 year old “hafu” (or double) daughter came home from yochien (preschool) with bruises and a bloody nose. She probably wasn’t so “cool”–at least in the area we lived in.

    This article was fine, until it started throwing around stereotypes.

  • Jiminosaka

    Excellent article that really exposes what “others” go through here. I do disagree with you, however, about the halfu part. I have worked with many, and all of them had identity issues. I watched their struggles to be accepted. I found their sometimes weird behavior towards me, a real gaijin, was puzzeling. I heard one who I had mistakenly approached in English, tell other coworkers that he wouldnt speak English because of pride. I guess that means he was ashamed to be associated with me because I equated “gaijin” to him. Others acted very distant towards me, probably for the same reason. I think the reason many of them become tarento is because they cant be accepted somewhere else so easily in Japan, or just dont wont to deal with the othering. I think you missed the mark on mixed race kids in Japan.

  • http://naruhodo.jp.net/ Leong Shen Lim

    I am a Chinese Malaysian studying in Japan. As far as I have seen, being a hafu (especially mixed with white) has been beneficial. I don’t know whether or not 30 years ago there was discrimination issues on hafu, but for sure recently being a hafu is considered as some kind of success (we can’t choose though) in the society. Many of my hafu friends always enjoy the attention from Japanese opposite sex. They show affection at the first sight to my hafu friends and didnt show interest on me (because i look like a normal Japanese) until they found out im foreigner too. But they are still nice to me when they found out I’m foreigner. So I conclude myself that:

    1) Japanese prefer caucasian-like people as appearance.
    2) Despite the appearance, Japanese like foreigners who can speak Japanese.

    I heard many stories about how Japanese people discriminate foreigners but I haven’t seen a serious one so far. I still think Japanese people are nice to foreigners in general. Though there are still some social norms that irritate us but as long as we get used to it, it wouldn’t be a problem I think. ;) Culture is all about mutual understanding.

  • 思德

    An interesting article on an issue that won’t go away anytime soon. Thanks!