If you are born in America, even if neither one of your parents are Americans, you are a citizen of the USA. The same goes for Brazil, or any number of countries. But in Japan, even if you’re born here (like Joshua was), you’re still not Japanese. Why is that? Because Japan sees themself not just as the country of Japan, but as the nation of Japan. That means that one of your parents needs to have Japanese blood in order for you to be Japanese (in general). And as Americans living here in Japan, even going to Japanese schools, that difference is ever in front of us.
Being different in Japan can be a hard thing to live with. There is such a strong pressure in society to conform to the norm. And while there are many things we are learning to do differently because we live in Japan, there are so things we could never change: like the natural color of our hair, skin or eyes. Sure, you can die your hair, take skin treatments or wear contacts, but your core identity remains the same.
And even though there have been times when we thought “It sure would be nice to not stand out,” I have also released that it’s part of what makes our experience here so unique. So instead of focusing on the negatives of being different in a place where different is not usually a good thing, we choose to celebrate it.