Hafu: The Ups And Downs Of Being “Half Japanese” In Japan

First things first. I hate to start off by putting out a disclaimer, but these are my own personal opinions and thoughts about being a “hafu” (half-Japanese) and my experience will/may differ from others. I do not expect everyone to agree with me. Please take what I say with a pinch of salt. Disclaimer over! Now a little bit about me…

© Photo by Tabitha Wilders

I was born in Tokyo to a British father and a Japanese mother. I attended an International School in Yokohama for eight years before moving to the UK. After completing my masters in London and working abroad for a couple of years, I finally returned. Here are my personal experiences of being a hafu in Japan.

The hafu or daburu debate

Hafu: The Ups And Downs Of Being “Half Japanese” In Japan© Photo by iStock: CSA-Printstock

Hafu refers to a person who is half Japanese and half something else. Some are against this term and ask others to call them daburu (double). To them, daburu represents both cultures and ethnic heritages that make them who they are. They hear the word hafu and think it makes them sound like half a person. Others prefer hafu as it tends to be associated with kawaii (cute) or kakkoii (cool) stereotypes in Japan. Common stereotypes include the expectation for us to have an envious multiracial look and the ability to speak multiple languages.

My opinion? I’m personally not offended by the term hafu and here’s why. It’s because it doesn’t have a negative connotation attached to the term nor is it used in a derogatory way. I do not hear the word hafu and think of myself as half a person (sorry, that’s …continue reading