Hafu: Dating As A ‘Half Japanese’ Woman In Japan
Is It Me Or My “Hafu-ness” That You Like?
What it’s like to date in Japan—a halfie’s perspective.
Right, the disclaimer. This article is all about my own personal perspective and thoughts about dating in Japan as a hafu (a child of one ethnic Japanese parent and one non-ethnic Japanese parent) woman in her late(ish) 20s. I am aware that not everyone will have the same experiences as me and opinions will differ. Also, if you have read my previous hafu in Japan article, you will understand why I refer to myself as halfie or hafu. Disclaimer over!
Now, a little bit about me. I was born in Tokyo to an English father and a Japanese mother. I speak both languages (although English is my stronger language), have experience living in both countries and know both cultures. I’d say I’m very 50:50 in that sense. Others would argue (even myself at times) that I’m far more English than Japanese. Here, I want to share my personal experiences of dating in Japan as a hafu woman.
Halfie Women Treatment
Japanese culture is renowned for its general politeness and respect, qualities that I deeply appreciate about the culture. However, when it comes to the realm of dating, my experience as a half-Japanese individual has unveiled a different side of interactions. The contrast in how I am treated compared to Japanese women is unmistakable, a conclusion drawn from both personal encounters and observations.
On numerous dates, I’ve found myself bombarded with inappropriate questions. It’s disheartening how some individuals feel entitled to express their misguided opinions and views without any consideration. Assuming, perhaps, that as a foreigner or halfie, I must inherently be more “open-minded.” Unfortunately, this often translates into a negative presumption, making it challenging to connect on a genuine level.
It’s disheartening how some individuals feel entitled to express their misguided opinions and views without any consideration…
Even during nightly strolls, encounters with men on the streets take an uncomfortable turn. Phrases like “gaikoku jin?” (are you a foreigner?) or “wah hafu jann” (wow, you’re a halfie!) are delivered in a sleazy manner that I’ve rarely seen directed at Japanese women. The brazenness of these encounters, combined with unmentionable remarks, is not just disheartening but also reflective of an underlying concern.
Personal space and boundaries seem to be mere suggestions in these situations. Numerous dates have unfolded where the guy stands or sits uncomfortably close to me in public. It’s not due to a lack of space or excessive noise. It’s a deliberate act to showcase the presence of a non-Japanese-looking halfie beside him. This behavior, I believe, reflects a desire to assert a certain status or perhaps an attempt to make a statement, leaving me both frustrated and disappointed.
Strange Bragging Rights
To a very specific subclass of people, foreigners are still viewed as more “desirable”. This leads to the emergence of a term known as “gaijin hunter.” It’s crucial to note that the term “gaijin” itself can carry a negative connotation, underscoring the sometimes indecent way non-Japanese individuals are referred to.
Regrettably, these “gaijin hunters” do exist, pursuing relationships for various motives, whether it be marriage or more casual connections. I’ve encountered numerous instances where foreign girls share their dating stories. They express frustration over men who seem to date them solely for their foreign status. These men treat the relationship as a status symbol. They use their foreign partner as a trophy to showcase to friends, without any genuine intention for a long-term commitment.
…are halfies seen as the convenient or “easy” option, chosen for reasons beyond genuine connection?
For those of us who are half-Japanese, a different set of challenges arises. Many individuals find us more approachable, perhaps due to our fusion of Japanese culture and language proficiency. Some men openly express a dream of dating or being with a foreign girl, but the prospect often falters due to the perceived language and cultural barriers. This raises the disheartening question: are halfies seen as the convenient or “easy” option, chosen for reasons beyond genuine connection?
The situation takes another disconcerting turn when men confess that their parents advocate for settling down with a “cute hafu girl.” While the desire for adorable offspring is a common sentiment, it becomes unsettling when the primary reasons for dating someone are reduced to their mixed heritage. It’s a reminder that, once again, being a halfie can overshadow the essence of an individual. Reducing us to a stereotype rather than recognizing our unique qualities.
The After Effects
These experiences have left me grappling with a fundamental question. “Are you dating me for me, or are you dating me because I’m hafu?” It’s disheartening, to say the least.
Even in my younger years, I hated the notion of being reduced to just the “hafu girl,” judged primarily for my appearance in Japan. This discomfort made me determined to distinguish myself in other aspects of life. I threw myself into academics, craving recognition for my intellect and hard work. Sports became my escape, where I could be recognized for my athleticism. I traveled the world, living in different countries, in pursuit of being seen as cool and independent.
Are you dating me for me, or are you dating me because I’m hafu?
Yet, despite these efforts, the question persists. Am I valued for who I am, or is my identity as a halfie overshadowing everything else? It’s crucial to note that expressing these sentiments isn’t a manifestation of insecurity. On the contrary, I feel privileged to be a halfie, and am proud of my dual cultural heritage. What I yearn for, however, is to be acknowledged for aspects beyond my appearance.
This desire isn’t a plea to cease celebrating the uniqueness of being a halfie but rather a call to recognize the depth of my personality and the achievements I’ve earned. I wholeheartedly believe that true connection stems from understanding and appreciating what lies beneath the surface. In a world where appearances often take precedence, isn’t it fair to aspire to be seen and praised for the qualities that define me from within?