Half Japanese or Half-Blood?

When I lived in England, I was never particularly concerned with whether people around me were completely English, half English, or just a bit English. I mean, what did it matter? I myself am actually half Scottish, a quarter English and a quarter Italian, but nobody made a big deal of it.

Before I rant about Japan’s obssession with geneology, here’s the concept of blood purity in the world of Harry Potter:

Wizards who have four magical grandparents are known as pure-blood; those who have one or more Muggle (non-magical) grandparents are known as half-blood. Those with two Muggle parents are known as Muggle-born, or, pejoratively, as “Mudblood”. Among pure-blooded families, a division exists between those who accept and appreciate those of mixed or Muggle parentage, such as the Weasley family, and those who consider such people inferior. (Source: Wikipedia)

In Japan, the common term for someone with a foreign parent is “half”, meaning half Japanese. While this isn’t meant to be derogatory, I’m reminded of the terms half-blood and mudblood and can’t help but feel describing someone as “half” implies they are impure.

I bring this up because my son, Rikuto, is “half”, and it’s really bizarre when I show people pictures of him and they suddenly realize they are looking at a “half”. Usually this is followed by cries of kawaii! (he’s so cute!), because despite the implication of impurity, most Japanese are envious of and love that foreign-look.

Becky - Half-bloodOne Japanese celebrity who has found success purely on her impurity is Becky, daughter of a Japanese mother and British father. Becky had dual citizenship until she turned 20 and had to choose a single nationality by Japanese law. She decided to be Japanese and has found a career on variety shows, game shows and any other program that needs the “cute appeal” of a “half”.

Becky is more than just a mudblood, though. She’s actually a graduate of Tokyo’s Asia University and holds a degree in Business Administration.

While it would be great if Rikuto grows up to be the most handsome half-blood Japan has ever seen, I hope he follows Becky’s lead and gets himself an education to fall back on should the Japanese ever stop oggling at “halves” like him.

15 comments

  1. ジェイソン (Jason)

    The “half-blood” thing is something that my wife and I are a bit concerned about, too. Well … my wife, moreso. Occasionally, people who are not 100% Japanese are teased throughout their childhood or not allowed to take part in certain clubs at school. Reiko had seen this growing up, and I couldn’t imagine someone not being included just because their geneological heritage is a bit more worldly than others (my family is Canadian, but 150 years ago were based in England, Ireland and France).

    That said, I’m sure that the cute factor of being foreign will eventually wear off. Theres a large number of foreigners in Japan, and eventually we’ll be commonplace enough to not even warrant a second glance 😛

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  3. Jez

    My wife is Indian… or at least her parents were. I don’t expect this to be a problem for our child in the UK, at least not where we live.

    Sounds like your kid is going to face a lot of prejudice which is very unfortunate for him….

    I read the comment above about “not being allowed to take part in certain clubs at school”… if true thats pretty disgraceful…

  4. Amina

    Re: “I hope he follows Becky’s lead and gets himself an education to fall back on should the Japanese ever stop oggling at “halves” like him.”

    So do I. Oggling is free but the Japanese are not known for passing out free food and money to hafuus…but let me know if they do in England haha.

    All the best to your son Rikuto. And not to worry, spending my childhood in Japan was one of the best experiences of my life. Cheers.

  5. a half blood

    It is really hard to be a half blood.
    We have to live in both race and be the best of both race. Even if we want to change it we can do nothing but accept it. In the midst of a race, we do not belong because we still are half blooded. We do not have a race of our own that we could belong to but we are who we are, half bloods and it would be passed from generations to generations, a repeating history. So where do we really belong? – to the half bloods! Living the best of both worlds and facing every challenge of being a half blood! and the thoughest? to accept being a half blood and be who we really are.
    BUT
    If I could be a pure blood, I would marry a pure blood of my race. I have my reasons and I think you know why.

  6. Me ^_^

    I would love to be half japanese !
    Im only quartor (sorry if i spelt it wrong)
    But than if you think about it, i wouldnt be born.
    I dont think he’ll be bullied or anything by it btw.
    people will prob admire him for it

  7. Robin Jone Watanabe

    hi,im just about to tell the story of my life… 20 years ago, my mom’s family was suffering the word “poverty” in the country of filipinoes (philippines). she decided to go for abroad as an intertainer (singer) for greener pasture for her family… while in japan, my mom had worked too hard, she’d sent my grandparents, her brothers and sisters money for they to live and to finish their studies…

    unfortunately, inspite of being graduates, they were’nt able to use their degree,diploma or whatever, because those particular times when they were in college, they just fooled around..they didnt think of my mom’s perseverance, the sweat, blood she gave for them.

    staying in japan for almost a year, ofcourse, she’l meet a japanese partner, my dad.at the start, they were ok,but years had passed, my dad and my mom had lost communication.i dont know the reason. and now, i am here to ask for help regarding mr.yoshiaki watanabe. i honestly say this “i need support”. were back to my moms life when she had suffer poverty… plz do… my nos. 09194198032

    thank you so much mr.ramsay.

    God bless!

  8. Erika

    Im half-Japanese, and although i havent lived in japan[howevever i do visit frequently] i know for a fact that all that stuff about not being accepted into certain clubs because you are not full japanese is nonsence, sure that probably happened agez ago but like today all the kids would love to be friends with Rikuto, not because hes half japanese or anything but just because they like him and want to be friends with him!

  9. Shane

    I’m half and have never had any problems with anyone with regards to it… I think I can see why people could have problems with it though, my white friends typically call me asian, while the asian ones typically call me white… Its become a joke, but that could give someone an “I don’t belong anywhere” complex. I love it though, have the best of both worlds, and feel like I fit in anywhere (if my Spanish ever gets any better, I could conceivably pass for Latino too, I guess).

  10. Maya

    I’m also a halvsie and proud of it! I grew up in London, UK where there is so much diversity my blood wasn’t really a huge issue. I’ve often wondered how different it would have been growing up in Japan.
    When I visit with my parents I get stared at a lot out of curiosity but when I’m not with them I’m just another gaijin. My cousins only say they’re jealous of how pale I am and of course I feel the exact opposite but there’s certainly no animosity.
    Oh and I’ve been mistaken for Latino, and French, and more usually ‘a bit foreign’!

  11. Kelly

    Hi

    I`m also half and its true that you sometimes get teased for being half because I have also lived in the US for part of my life! In Japan everyone says how cute you are but you just want to be accepted by somebody as normal because then maybe you can make actual friends that dont judge yo for looks I want my child to also have a good education to fall back on!

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