“My mother is Japanese and my father Bhutanese. She is from a rural place two hours away from Tokyo and he is from Eastern Bhutan. I am 23 now and was born and raised in Thimphu. Every year, we’d go to Japan once to visit my grandparents. When I was growing up, there weren’t many mixed families. I often felt left out because of my identity. It was not severe, but I felt I was always considered privileged, and not in a good way. I was left alone and had very few friends. I wasn’t considered “normal” just because I wasn’t a pure Bhutanese. My mom would make me bento boxes with Japanese food. When I brought this to school, I was laughed at. I didn’t take it personally since I was too young, but I did struggle to convince people that this was normal, at least for me. Recently it’s been much easier since people have become more open about it with exposure. Some even find it fascinating.

One of the worst parts of being mixed is getting taken advantage of. I am extremely blessed to have a great family, fiance, and a child now. But I’ve experienced relationships in the past where I was talked down to. I was humiliated because they thought I was worthless. They’d say, “She’s not even pure Bhutanese.” The biggest challenge though was sorting out the legal identity crisis. Bhutan and Japan don’t allow dual citizenship, and it was quite difficult. There are no laws for children like us, so I follow the same rules as foreigners do. I can’t find a job, I can’t apply for government scholarships. It’s difficult to even get married. It is odd because I’m half Bhutanese, but in the eyes of the law, I’m not.

Despite the troubles, a great advantage I had was growing up with 2 cultural backgrounds and getting to experience 2 different traditions. You gain a broader perspective, which allows you to be more open-minded. Japan and Bhutan are polar opposites, in the way you’re raised, the traditions, and values. Getting to experience those was really great. Being able to speak multiple languages allowed me to communicate with different people. At the end of it all, I am proud of my identity. It has helped me grow as a person”

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