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  • Meg Hoffmann

A love letter to japan, from my mixed-race self


i love you

but you suffocate me  

21 years ago

i was born on your land,

the only mixed race baby in the hospital

my father the only gaijin in the hospital

but my family was not “japanese” enough for you

so when i was six months old i left and moved to a land that was also not mine but still welcomed me

i lived there for 10 years.

when i was 10, i came back to you, but not home to you. For you did not say okaeri to me.

you took my broken family in and welcomed us so long as we did not stick out too much from the rest of the crowd

but i did

my japanese was not good enough for you

my hair, not dark enough

my eyes, too light

i was too loud for you

too outspoken for you

not polite enough

did not speak to my elders correctly

I started to despise myself for it

when i was 12 i started commuting to school on the train

i was glared at

stared at

yelled at

told to go back to where i came from

i was sexualized

i was groped

I felt suffocated

when i was 15 i came to you with my depression

and you scoffed in my face


“You’re just weak.

Suck it up. Gaman-shiro”

“Don’t talk about it

Don’t show it

Don’t feel it”

It hurt.

When I was 18 I finally left you

Yet again to another country that was not mine but still welcomed me

for the first time in 7 years, i felt like i could breathe

Because there, we were all different

Here, my identity was not repeatedly questioned

Here, i could be who i was without shame

Japan I love you

I love you because you’ve showed me the taste of sweet vinegar rice and sashimi

You’ve showed me the pink sakura trees after a long and cold winter

I love you because you are safe and clean

I love you because you’ve showed me what hospitality means

You’ve showed me night lights that shine brighter than any city in the world

You’ve showed me unity in times of despair

You’ve showed me that hard work is important

You’ve taught me my manners

Japan I love you

But you suffocate me

You suffocate me because no matter how much I want to,

I know I will never belong here

I will never be truly yours,

You suffocate me because you will never accept all of me, only part of me

You suffocate me because a part of me will always be foreign to you.

Will there ever come a day when I can call this place I was born my home?

When will I stop being, half to you, and whole instead?


I love you

But you suffocate me

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