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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Bi-Racial In Japan

The term "hafu" is used to describe people in Japan who are of mixed heritage - specifically one parent is/was Japanese, and the other parent from anywhere other than Japan.

Hafu is the katakana word for "half".

Japan has it in its head - and has for centuries to make sure everyone knows just what is Japanese and what isn't.

When I lived in Japan for a few years between 1990-1993, Japanese folks took the time to ensure I knew I was eating Japanese rice, using Japanese chopsticks or that such-and-such was a Japanese kimono.

To be fair, there are such things as Indian and American rice, Chinese chopsticks and Korean kimonos, to name a few examples of reality, but whatever.

But people?

For a country that likes to think of itself as advanced... as a global leader, Japan sure is stuck in the Dark Ages.

I'm a brown guy married to a white woman, and we have a light brown kid.

At no time have I ever observed anyone ever giving him the stink eye or had anyone come up and ask him about his nationality... if he is Canadian or something else...

And do you know why? Because at least in the part of Canada I live in, no one gives a crap.

Back in the 1960s-80s, things were a little different here in Canada, but still light years ahead of where Japan is today.

My mother's skin complexion was lighter than olive... her Portuguese background evident, but still lighter than most people from there... and she was born in India to two brown Indian parents... just with a mother whose family background went back a few generations to a person actually from Portugal.

My father was a darker brown person than I am today... I'm lighter than him... and as such, when I would go and see my mother at work, invariably someone would ask who I was, and my mother would introduce me as her son, and there would be stunned looks, as though they had no idea this white lady had married someone other than a white person.

Don't get me wrong... mixed marriages had been happening in Canada for a long time... but even shades of brown were enough to throw people... so I get it.

For a while, most of the married people I knew were of mixed races... weird, yeah - but not uncomfortable weird. At least not for me.

At no time, when growing up, did anyone in Canada ever look at me and call me a hafu equivalent... no... there were the standard racial slurs thrown my way just because I was brown.

I still get that in this blog... every now and then some dumb ass wants to write in and proclaim my inferiority by stating that brown guy can't be a real Canadian because Canada is white only.

Of course, I just collect their IP address and do a quick search to figure out where they are and who they are and stockpile it (and their comments) in case I feel like publishing their racist comments and names all over the Internet.

I've been on-line in the Internet's various forms since the early 1980s and know how to forensically find things out.

Anyhow... Japan... grow the fug up.

Why do you (and not everyone there, just most) have the need to categorize people?

If a kid has biracial parents but was born in Japan, why do you need to categorize him or her as a hafu?

You don't.

They are Japanese.

Japan's reluctance to get over this whole genetically pure bullcrap reminds me of Nazi Germany... with Hitler wanting to create his own Master Race of blonde, blue-eyed Arayans.

Do you know what an arayan is? Here's what Wikipedia states:

The Aryan race was a racial grouping term used in the period of the late 19th century to the mid-20th century to describe multiple peoples. It has been variously used to describe all Indo-Europeans in general (spanning from India to Europe), the original Aryan people specifically in Persia, and most controversially through Nazi misinterpretation, the Nordic or Germanic peoples. The term derives from the Aryan people, from Persia, who spoke a language similar to those that have been found in Europe.

Hunh... look at that Hitler... I'm an Arayan.

You guys know where Hitler took the swastika from, right? Here's what Wikipedia says:

The Swastika (also known outside the Indian subcontinent as the Hakenkreuz, gammadion cross, cross cramponnée, croix gammée, fylfot, or tetraskelion) (as a character 卐 or 卍) is an ancient religious symbol originating from the Indian subcontinent, that generally takes the form of an equilateral cross with four legs each bent at 90 degrees. It is considered to be a sacred and auspicious symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism and dates back at least 11,000 years.

Hunh... India again... and also Buddhism... which the Japanese I'm sure all know originated in India.

I'd be lying if I said that racism does not exist in India... holy crap, it does.

And, I'd be lying if I said I identified myself as being Indian. I don't. I don't identify myself as anything other than as "Andrew" and as a "Writer".

One of my favorite stories about myself occurred about a year after I left Japan and was back in Canada, crossing the border into the U.S. to watch a hockey game between my Toronto Maple Leafs and the Buffalo Sabres in Buffalo, New York.

As usual, me... the brown guy wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs sweater and holding onto my hockey ticket was pulled aside by the U.S. border people as my three white friends (similarly dressed) waited for the usual interrogation.

I can understand why they pulled me out - I would too. My Canadian passport shows that I was born in England, and was issued in Tokyo, Japan.

If that wasn't weird enough, Me... the brown guy... is somehow named Andrew Joseph...

I know... it sounds like someone really wasn't trying when they gave me a false passport, but no... the passport was real, and I really did have all that confusing stuff to contend with.

Like I said, I'd check out all that conflicting data, too. 

Back to Japan's issues:

The hafu Japanese kids I know identify themselves as Michelle and Alex... Michelle (aka Miki) was born in Japan, but now resides in the U.S.... and in the U.S., no one looks at them and wonders what their racial background is. At least not to the point where someone has to designate their Americanism as something as demeaning as needing to be called hafu. I hope that never changes.

But Japan... Japan needs to change. It needs to change faster than it has been changing over the past 150+ years... it needs to get over itself...

Yeah, it's a great country, has nice people, great food, wonderful customs... but I am sure there are many people born in Japan, but aren't full-blown Japanese by blood, consider themselves to be Japanese.

Shouldn't that be enough?

Hafu?

More like hafu empty.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Thanks to my friend Vinnie for the heads-up, who is a friend, not a hafu friend.

4 comments:

  1. You do make a good point there, Andrew. I think even before Ariyana winning the Miss Japan award that Japanese people are having a hard time accepting people that are half-Japanese.

    To me, I guess they need time for them to get used to them and accept them in the future.

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    1. Thanks, Justin... it's certainly not just Japan that acts like this, but this is a blog about Japan. I don't think it's a difficulty in accepting half-Japanese, though. In my opinion, it's more about ensuring the superiority of being a full-Japanese that takes precedent. It's an ego thing. Whether it's feelings of superiority, or if it's the opposite and feeling they need to hold onto their cultural identity... and there's nothing wrong with that... but there is when culture is confused with a physical identity.

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  2. You can see that that mentality trickles down to even Japanese animals like those monkeys.

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    1. Oh... the monkeys that were bi-racial! I was wondering what you meant for a second! LOL! But, to be fair re: the snow monkeys... the cross-breeding can destroy an actual species even while it creates a new one.

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