In just two years here I have clearly absorbed a lot of the local prejudices about what it means to be "Japanese".
My confusion lasts only until Ariana opens her mouth. Suddenly everything about her shouts out that she is Japanese, from the soft lilting tone of her voice, to her delicate hand gestures and demure expression.
Well of course she is. Ariana was born in Japan and has lived here all her life. She knows little of her father's home back in Arkansas in the United States. But to many Japanese, and I really do mean many, Ariana Miyamoto is not Japanese. Not fully anyway.
Ariana is what is known in Japan as a "hafu", taken from the English word "half". To me the word sounds derogatory. But when I ask her Ariana surprises me by defending the term, even embracing it.
"If it was not for the word hafu, it would be very hard to describe who I am, what kind of person I am in Japan," she says. Full story...