Learning to be More Accepting

“Every country has its flaws and Japan is no exception. But sometimes small things add up. I’m half Japanese, half American and I’ve lived in Japan since I was 6 years old. Some people tell me I’m not Japanese enough and it bothers me, although I’ve learned not to let it get the better of me. I just tell myself, `They don’t know me. They’re not psychic so I can’t blame them.’ I think I’ve become more accepting as I got older. There’s this ramen place next to my house and I’ve been going there since I was a kid. They’ve known me since kindergarten but to this day I still get asked, `Would you like a fork or chopsticks?’ I always say chopsticks and they will not fail to give me a fork, every single time.

“When I was a teenager, it used to really make me upset. I used to be in tears about it. But now I find it funny. I’ve learned to see the humor in some dark areas. Otherwise it’s hard to live here as a half Japanese person. So I’m really glad about being able to accept that people don’t know me and that I shouldn’t expect people to know me. And I shouldn’t expect people to be polite because polite is different in each country.

“Every time I go to a restaurant I will always be handed the English menu, which makes it more difficult when the English doesn’t make sense. People would be baffled. And sometimes people want to help me out so much, they think I’m a struggling foreign person here. When they want to show me that they worked hard to present it to me in English, they would almost thrust it in my face. I don’t get offended but my Japanese friends do. I try not to talk about it too much but they see it more now and I think they realize that I deal with this all the time. They thought I was just overreacting before.

“I feel really happy that I’m more accepting of people’s mistakes and of people’s flaws. I was definitely not like this growing up as a teenager. I was very angry. But I learned that it’s very difficult especially for older people, because I live with my grandparents and they recently started opening up to me about what happened during the war.”

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Finding diversity and inclusion. Breaking down barriers one post at a time. Stories and snapshots of foreigners making their way in Japan.

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