British | Japanese

I am half-Japanese and half-British. In Japan I identify myself as ‘hafu’; it means mixed race. My name is Sae. I am 19 years old and am studying Social Anthropology at university in London. My mum is from Tokyo, Japan and my dad is from Birmingham, England. My mum came to England after studying at university in Japan. She was working at a bank that my dad also worked at.

I was born in England. I lived here until I was about 7 years old when my family decided to go for an adventure across the continents to Singapore. We planned to live there for 2 years, which turned to 7 so I would probably say this was where I had my childhood. I went to an Australian international school, so I really was immersed in a whole mix of cultures. This made me super aware of different traditions and ways of life, which is probably why I’m studying anthropology at university. London is where I’ve settled for the time being and I absolutely love it here.

I was pretty aware and proud of my mixed heritage from the onset. I went to a predominantly White primary school in England, so my Japanese name stood out quite a bit. I knew that the two Japanese characters in my name, Sae, meant traditional Japanese silk and England, literally spelling out my mixed cultural background. I’ve spoken both Japanese and English since I can remember so I think I’ve always been pretty clued up about both the cultures that make up me.

I went to an international school in Singapore, so growing up my friends were from all over the world. I think this gave me a super open-mind and understanding of different cultures from a really young age. I have never really thought about whether cultural similarities have influenced my circle, but I do know that my friends are all very world-aware.

Cultural background doesn’t affect my choice when dating. As long as you are curious, compassionate and adventurous, I’m all yours.

I reckon there is a lot more curiosity than judgement towards mixed-race people, or at least that’s what I tell myself. It can be conflicting when I see myself belonging to place, but other people see me as foreign.

My experience of being mixed-race has been a positive one. I think that it’s pretty damn cool to be made up of different cultures, so I embrace it and am proud of it. I see it like if you don’t properly belong anywhere specific then you can be this transient being that can bop around the world without any ties. I like that; I find it quite liberating.

I don’t think it has had an effect on my relationships other than perhaps I have friends in different parts of the world which is super exciting. I miss them a lot when I’m not with them but it’s nice to know that there will be familiar faces that will make me feel at home whether in Japan or England.

If I was to be reborn, I really would be happy to come back as myself. My family are eccentric, loving and embrace both my Japanese and English heritage wholeheartedly. My English friends are mad and love it when I bring back Japanese candy, trinkets and skincare. My Japanese friends are lovely and are excited when I turn up with English breakfast tea and shortbread. I am pretty happy to be me.

I reckon that in the future, majority of people will be mixed-race. I hope for cultural duality to be celebrated and maybe it will break down the labels and stereotypes that come with different races.