Naomi Osaka, a New Governor and Me

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Census/Demographics, Media Archive on 2018-10-08 03:48Z by Steven

Naomi Osaka, a New Governor and Me

The New York Times
2018-10-06

Motoko Rich, Tokyo Bureau Chief


The Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun printed a special edition when Naomi Osaka won the United States Open tennis championship in September. Yomiuri Shimbun, via Associated Press

Is Japan becoming more welcoming to mixed-race people?

TOKYO — Just over 40 years ago, when my family moved from California to Tokyo, the fact that my mother was Japanese did not stop schoolchildren from pointing at me and yelling “Gaijin!” — the Japanese word for foreigner — as I walked down the street.

After seeing my red-haired, blue-eyed father, a shopkeeper in the suburb where we lived asked my mother what it was like to work as a nanny in the American’s house.

When we moved back to California two years later, I entered fourth grade and suddenly, I was the Asian kid. “Ching chong chang chong ching!” boys chanted on the playground, tugging at the corners of their eyes. Classmates scrunched their noses at the onigiri — rice balls wrapped in dried seaweed — that my mother packed in my lunch bag. When our teacher mentioned Japan during a social studies lesson, every head in the class swiveled to stare at me.

Now, back in Tokyo as a foreign correspondent for this newspaper, I am no longer pointed at by people on the street. But I am incontrovertibly regarded as a foreigner. When I hand over my business card, people look at my face and then ask in confusion how I got my first name. My Japanese-ness, it seems, barely registers.

In the past few weeks, covering local reaction to the tennis champion Naomi Osaka, the daughter of a Japanese mother and Haitian-American father, and Denny Tamaki, who is the son of a Japanese mother and a white American Marine and was elected governor of Okinawa last weekend, I have wondered whether Japanese attitudes toward identity are slowly starting to accommodate those of us with mixed heritages…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Another Win for a Player Getting in Touch With Her Japanese Roots

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive on 2016-01-23 03:22Z by Steven

Another Win for a Player Getting in Touch With Her Japanese Roots

The New York Times
2016-01-21

Ben Rothenberg


Naomi Osaka signed autographs after her 6-4, 6-4 victory over 18th-seeded Elina Svitolina at the Australian Open on Thursday.
Credit Issei Kato/Reuters

MELBOURNE, AustraliaNaomi Osaka (大坂 なおみ) liked to think she had a universal appeal to the crowd that watched her 6-4, 6-4 win over 18th-seeded Elina Svitolina at the Australian Open on Thursday afternoon.

“Maybe it’s because they can’t really pinpoint what I am,” said Osaka, who will play the two-time champion Victoria Azarenka in the third round. “So it’s like anybody can cheer for me.”

Osaka, 18, is coached in the United States by her Haitian-born father, Leonard Francois. She spends little time in her mother’s homeland of Japan, the country she represents in tennis, but received strong support from Japanese fans as she pulled off the upset on Show Court 2.

“I always think that they’re surprised that I’m Japanese,” she said. “So like the fact that there was like Japanese flags and stuff, it was like really touching.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,