“Being Japanese and Malaysian Indian is what makes me who I am. Before, I used to think I’m just Japanese and it just so happens that I am half Malaysian. For a long time, I knew nothing about Malaysian Indian culture. Now, being Malaysian Indian is a stronger part of my identity, even though I was born and raised in Japan. Now I love that side of myself and my South East Asian heritage.
“Growing up in Tochigi was pretty nice, Tochigi at that time didn’t have much exposure to people of different backgrounds because there weren’t many foreigners back then. I was the odd one out at school. It was nice because people were kind regardless. I personally didn’t experience any specific problems because of my background. There were definitely times that people didn’t accept us as well as other foreigners, but they still weren’t used to foreigners at the time.
“There was no particular difference in attitudes between people in Tochigi and Tokyo. The kids in Tokyo were pretty used to foreigners. They had more exposure to foreign culture than most others. That said, In general, when I would go shopping, the reactions from people were pretty much the same as the people in Tochigi.
“Growing up in Tochigi, there were some times I had to struggle. Initially I used to think that when people treated me differently, it was because I was mixed or came from a different background. As I grew up, I found that was not entirely the case. Rather, it was because of my personality and how I saw them. For example, it’s not entirely negative when people are looking at you. They are just curious. Once I learnt to be less judgemental, there was a positive change in how I interacted with people. Once I realized that, it was a kind of enlightenment.”
Interview & 📸 by: Mark Stephen Horbury