In Hiroshima, Japan, a Teenager Finds an Unexpected Home

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A trip to Japan’s most misunderstood city teaches a young traveler what it means to belong.

My name is Daisy—though, here I sometimes go by my Japanese middle name, Tomoko—and I’m 17 years old. My dad is Japanese American and my mom is white, so in Japan, I am referred to as hafu or half Japanese. The truth is that I’m not really Japanese at all. I’m American, born and raised: My family has been in the United States for four generations. I speak elementary Japanese that I learned through a summer course. My closest family in this country are third cousins whom I’ve never met. Despite all that, in the United States, I am still seen as foreign, apart from the fabric of society. People will ask, “Where are you from?” or “What are you?” The answer they want is not, “I’m from California. I’m an American.”

Daisy Okazaki