Don’t Call Me Hawaiian

“Even though I’m an American-born Japanese from Hilo, Hawaii, I don’t identify myself as Hawaiian to show respect for real natives who are indigenous to Hawaii.

“There’s a big resurgence in actual, genuine Hawaiian culture and language back home.

“And although I grew up ethnically Japanese, I discovered that fitting into Japanese culture was far more difficult than I had expected. As someone who looks like a local, expectations of how I speak and my behavior are much higher than, say, a white person. This in turn heightens my awareness of my gaikokujin-ness or foreignness.

Scott Yoshizumi with a gigantic plastic ice cream cone display behind him.

“I decided to come to Japan after finishing university in Australia to connect and learn my roots. My great great grandparents were from Japan and I wanted to experience the customs my father told me about when I was growing up. Also to see for myself if there was a difference between what we know as Japanese culture in Hawaii versus Japanese culture in Japan.”





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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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