A stereotype of Japanese Americans

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There’s a stereotype of the super-achiever. We just call them super-Japs. And in that way, Japanese Americans are very Japanese. I mean they’re very goal-oriented. They’re very achievement-oriented. They’re very society-oriented.

But, I always saw Japanese Americans as selling themselves out, especially Nikkei Sanseis. They sold themselves out to be white, to assimilate. That’s a very Japanese thing.

When I came to Japan—I wasn’t looking for it, but—that was the most striking thing is now I see genetically where some of my behavior patterns come from. The way I defer or the way I feel or the way I approach a situation—some of that stuff is very Japanese, and I couldn’t have grown up farther from being Japanese. Japanese Americans on the west coast at least have that association. But on the east coast, there was none of that association.

But, I guess I reacted as a kid because there was always the expectation that I would be the over-achiever. So actively pursued being an under-achiever, I suppose. I’ve thought about that a little bit, especially when I came out here and I started seeing some of my personality traits and some of the way I see things and seeing the similarities and the parallels. I’ve thought about that a lot.

Date: September 12, 2003
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Interviewer: Art Nomura
Contributed by: Art Nomura, Finding Home.

FindingHome japanese americans stereotype

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