Metropolis Magazine
Issue #805 - Friday, Aug 28th, 2009
Metropolis Specials Metropolis Classifieds Metropolis Joblet Visitor's Guide Japan Inc Kansai Scene iTunes Metropolis Friends Metpod
SEARCH METROPOLIS
PRESS RELEASE
English
Japanese
INSIDE METROPOLIS
Home
Podcast
Giveaway!
Photo of the Week
The Small Print
UPFRONT
Star Struck
Q&A
"Page 2 "
FEATURE ARTICLES
Advertorial
Feature
The Goods
Body & Soul
Tech Know
Cars & Bikes
Global Village
Horoscope
Mailbox
The Last Word
The Negi
+ Best of Tokyo
Classifieds
Jobfinder
TRAVEL
Features
Haikyo Corner
Out & About
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Agenda
Art
Books
CDs
Clubbing
Dance
Japan Beat
Music
Sports
Stage
Live Report
Multimedia
Pop Life
2008 Flashback
LISTINGS
Concerts
Jazz/World
Classical
Stage & Dance
Clubbing
Exhibitions
Sports
TV
Others
Fireworks
Metropolis League
MOVIES
Reviews
Times
Theater Maps
DINING OUT
Restaurant Review
Bar Review
International Dining
Local Flavors
Table Talk
Tastemaker
Sake
Wine
Beer
INFO
About Us
Subscribe
Distribution Points
Search
Sponsored Links
Tsukaeru
チラシ印刷
Past Issues
804: Drama Scene
803: Heads, Tails & Snake Eyes
801: A Legacy of Emotion
800: Through the Monocle
799: Fighting spirit
798: Taking the Stares
796: Friends Don't Let Friends Become Salarymen
795: Fuzzy Democracy
794: Hung Jury
792: Highway to Hell
791: The Cartography of Cyberspace
790: Train Talk
789: A Confessions of a Teenager in Kimono
787: A Downloaded Question
786: Counterculture Shock
785: The Good Sensei
783: Me, Charisma Woman?
782: Stumbling Block
781: Paradise Lost
779: Half and Half
778: Road Rage
777: Dumb Luck
775: The M-List
774: Compatriotic Spirit
773: The Naked Truth
770-71: It Ain't Easy Being Green
769: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas in Japan
768: Japanese Lessons
766: Bad Credit
765: Chew on this
764: Red faced
763: Down and Out in Tokyo
761: Kicking the bucket
760: Thumbing It
759: Fixing the System
757: Smoke rings
756: Stalking the Predators
755: Banding Together
753: No Competition
752: Sex and This City
751: Let's Shogi
750: The Yasukuni Follies
748: Loud and Clear
747: I'll be back
746: Raiders of the lost SMAP
744: Magical Mystery Tour
743: Murder in Lotus Land
742: Stereotypes 'R' Us
740: The Mother of all Mothers
739: Crimes of Fashion
738: The Hafu Dad Brigade
737: The Green Team
736: Fight Club
735: The Paper Chase
734: The Wind-Up Writer Chronicle
733: Food For Thought?
732: Home and Away
731: The 2008 Nazi Olympics
730: The Two-Wheel Revolution
729: Gimme a Break
728: Power Play
727: Dying for a doctor
726: Footloose Revisited
725: Little Fish, Bigger Pond
724: Japan's Peace Monster
723: Language Abuse
722: Scumbusters "R" Us
721: First Action Hiro
720: The Return of Asashoryu
718-719: A Time to Give
717: My Homelessness Dilemma
716: The 30 Percent Solution
715: Past Imperfect
714: Killing the Kimono
713: The trouble with Tibbets
712: Surfing the Shinto-net
711: Falling Stars
710: Macho Man
709: Bad Impressions
708: Bloodsport
707: Our Last Word
706: Anonymocracy
705: The Air Up There
704: Read the Signs
703: The sky should not be the limit
702: My Year Zero Proposal
701: The Joys of Freeganism
700: Prada for the People
699: The Parasite Country
698: Washed up in Tokyo
697: Birthing's Not for Babies
696: On the Handlebars of a Dilemma
695: My So-Called Poverty
694: Get Out the Vote
693: The Ishihara Mystery
691: Let it Flow
690: Caf Culture
689: Oyaji Fashionistas
688: The Democracy of the Dysfunctional
687: Polite Disregard
686: Venting on Climate Change
685: Silent No Longer
684: To protect and serve?
683: Save the Sanshin building!
682: In the Realm of the Pond God
681: The Open Society and Its Enemies
680: Five-Ring Circus
679: Topic of Cancer
678: Pet Peeves
677: Why I am Banned in Japan
676: A long way to the top
675: Euro-vision
674: Child's play
673: Why I did it
672: I Love Japan
671: Running Crazy
670: Planet Apology
669: A peek behind the curtain
668: Opening Up
666: Pitching a fit
665: All wrapped up
664: Yule Rules
663: Field of Dreams
662: Save Lives, not Face
661: Why Do I Buy a Ticket?
660: Dying for a Nap
659: We, the jury
658: Grain of truth
657: Remembering The Maverick
656: A Rose by any Other Name
655: Heir today, gone tomorrow
654: Manhandled on the Metro
653: The bodyguards of the road
652: Separate but equal
651: Going for the gold
650: Being Audrey Hepburn
649: Not Sitting Pretty
648: Get Smart
647: Through foreign eyes
646: A failing grade in cute
644: Club Lands
643: Sayonara, Hide
642: The JET SET
641: What, me worry?
640: The Da Vinci Load
639: Making Waves
638: Final Cut
637: Resave the whales
636: Soccer Silliness
635: I, Smoker
634: The Ultimate Loss
633: Shoot the Messengers
632: The second sex
631: A Maverick Moves On
630: The curse of Baron Mitsui
629: Waiting for Heidi
628: Memoirs of a fake celebrant
627: Take it Outside
626: Wa? What wa?
625: A well-drawn life
624: St. Patrick the abducted
623: Bend over
622: The (Un)Late show
621: Oil spill
620: Ice Follies
619: Pride Goeth
618: Lost roles
617: Saying it with Cookies
616: Wrestling with foreigners
614-615: Blank Pages
613: Fretting Over Freeters
612: Farewell, Sensei
611: Sympathy for the wild ones
610: Back in Black
609: Out of many, one
608: Youth culture
607: The Russians are coming!
606: Meddle Detector
605: Tokyo, Mon amour
604: The Wailing Wall
603: Getting Abreast of Cancer
602: Willing Ally
601: New war,same story
600: The Big Chill
599: The Gray Zone
598: Jail break
597: Extremely Lost in Translation
596: Wounded Despot
595: History Lessons
594: Valhalla of the Imperial Army
592: Culture crash
591: Complaints Department
590: What lies beneath
589: Strange Games
588: Junk Science
587: The day the invaders came
586: The Test that Drove Me Crazy
585: Smile and say “lesbian”
584: Keep Article 9
583: The Great Divide
582: An ad for all seasons
581: Killing the Golden Goose
580: The other half
579: Give me back my bye-bye
578: Araki in Focus
577: Head out on the Highway
576: The hate that won't go away
575: Here's the beef
574: Yukking it up
573: Squatter’s rights and wrongs
572: The Trouble with Yokoso
571: Fire from the sky
570: Invasion of the gairaigo
569: Good company
568: Find Out What it Means To Me
567: Field of schemes
566: In the Name of Justice
565: Winner or Loser?
564: Staying Foreign
563: The Scare after Tomorrow
561-562: The Spirit of Things
560: War for remembrance
559: Storm damage
558: The Meaning of Godzilla
557: Who’s left to listen?
556: Paying respects
555: Gender Trouble
554: Coming clean at last
553: Go our own way
552: Hits of yesteryear
551: Heir apparel
550: Personal Reflections
549: Nuclear Reactions
548: Article of faith
547: Martyrs for the firm
546: A different anniversary
545: We, the jury
544: Wrongs & rights
543: Moore or less
542: Fair games
541: Developmentally challenged
The Last Word
By Cory Gaskins

Half and half
It’s easy for biracial people like me to feel out of place—everywhere

Cory Gaskins is a freelance translator who has just entered a masters program

I am Japanese. In fact, I had been Japanese for 21 years before coming to Tokyo to live for the first time in 2006. You might not consider that very Japanese, but I think I’ve passed all the tests.

For instance, when I was 10 and living in Portugal, I endured hordes of people shouting “Hey Chinese boy! What are you doing?” I’ve been stopped from entering bars in various countries because of a “dress code,” while other underdressed Caucasian kids were let in. I’ve had people tell me, “Japanese people are weird. Have you seen that show Takeshi's Castle?” They are referring to a TV program that was popular in the ’80s, despite the fact that we have well entered the 2000s.

Because of all this, I expected that when I moved to Tokyo, I would finally be able to blend into Japanese society. How naïve I was! I didn’t realize that I would have job interviewers sniggering at me because I spoke perfect Japanese, or neighborhood women in a store praising the shop clerk for “his bravery to talk to the foreigner.” Or having the dreaded question “Are you haafu?” being asked over and over again, even by strangers.

If I reply “Yes,” I am presented with a stream of other questions and comments—nothing is too personal for them to ask: “Is it your mom or dad that is the foreigner?” “Where did they meet?” “So, do you speak Spanish? No? Why not? But you’re fluent in English.” “Well, you do look Latino. Look at your body hair.”

If I say “No,” I am met with “Whaaat? Really?!? Oh my god! That is like the seventh wonder of the world!”

Some people, namely celebrities, do capitalize on their biracial origins, wearing the “We’re different” sash proudly. But that’s not me. I don’t get paid for how I look or how much I stick out in a crowd. When I moved to Japan, I was simply a recent college graduate struggling to fit in.
Emi Yokoyama

Everyone goes through an identity crisis at some point. But most of us haafu are constantly forced to confront the fact that we are “the outsider.” I’ve always accepted being the only Asian among my friends, and being stared at when we went out. Sometimes people would come up and ask me why I am not dating or hanging out with “people of my own race,” but they were quickly shot down by my friends for being racist. Just once in a while, I wished I knew somebody else who could understand how great it is to drink warm green tea after eating the undulated sweetness of azuki-filled mochi.

After the 1,000th time I was asked “Are you haafu?” and after repeating the same set of answers three or four times a day, I'd had enough. Not only that, I started feeling pangs of indignation when the locals seemed eager to point out how much I didn’t belong here—the very country I'd identified as my homeland since birth! I wondered how other haafu coped.

Well, ask Google and you shall receive. I found a local group of half-Japanese people on the web. Having never met anyone else like me, I seized the opportunity and decided to get together with a group of strangers.

Two years down the road, I am still hanging out with the people I met at that first haafu gathering. They were the first true friends I made, the first people I met in Japan besides my relatives who didn’t approach me to satisfy their curiosity and view me as “an interesting being.” I found people who I could go with to my first Japanese matsuri. People who I could rant to and who would understand my frustrations. Whether I was hanging out with half-Chinese, -Peruvians, -Greeks or -Palestinians, my race never became an issue—none of my new friends made a fuss when I was able to belt out a popular B’z song at nomihodai karaoke. By befriending other haafu, I was able to be who I truly was, and not what my race was.

As I’m about to leave Japan, I would like to say thank you to all my friends who have kept me straight from the beginning. Friends who made me feel confident that, even if I ended up in a jungle, it would be OK if I was the only one enjoying green tea and wagashi.

Got something to say about this article? Send a letter to the editor at letters@metropolis.co.jp.

Listen to the Metropolis Podcast, the coolest guide to what goes on this week in Tokyo.

Looking for international friends? Check Metropolis Friends now - it's 100% free!