Being a biracial Asian/Caucasian American was an interesting identity to have in Japan. At the same time that I looked more similar to the homogeneous Japanese population than most of the students in my cohort, it is not as if I knew more about Japanese social and cultural factors and “fit” in more to Japanese society. However, sometimes I felt myself feeling more comfortable because I looked more similar to Japanese citizens than the others, which was an odd feeling since I am not at all Japanese. Often, Japanese people would address me first in Japanese because they assumed I could communicate with them in Japanese even though I only knew a few simple phrases compared to my paler, blonder companions.

It was interesting to learn about social norms in Japan and I found myself beginning to dress more similarly to Japanese women in a more reserved and stylish manner. I often felt uncomfortable wearing shorts in public because that is not common there even when the weather reached unbearable temperatures. In addition, I noticed that Japanese people are quite private and reserved in public compared to the boisterous noise I am used to of many Americans. I actually realized that I liked this type of social norm and felt that it was easier to comply since I am more naturally quiet. It was a little tricky to navigate the fact that I am half Asian, but am third generation so I do not feel like I fit into the Asian category that many people in Japan initially put me in before talking to me. I did not really experience culture shock when I arrived in Japan but actually experienced more of it when I returned to the United States and was sitting in a popular taco restaurant in my hometown in Connecticut. It was strange to see so many non-Asian people in one room and I kept finding myself staring at other diners and workers there which I did not expect to happen at all.