Ukeireru. The Day I Accepted Who I Am Isn’t Really Up To Me

I am a Japanese Canadian male. I was born and raised in this country Canada, a place I’ve grown to love and respect. But know it was never my choice, not my godly decision, not my call to be born here. I did not ask or had a say to be born in this country, at this time or environment.

I was born of Japanese descent into this great country of freedom, a land of opportunity which offers full democracy.

I was educated and released into this element, hoping for a better life. I realized early, I did not look like others around me, I am a visible minority. I was forced to face life circumstances differently from everyone else.

I was forced to break through the barrier from a tradition of eating fishcakes swimming in a bowl of rice with green tea, into a culture of high sodium and agnostic attitude.

Derukui Wa Utareru: “The Nail That Sticks Out Is Struck”

I am human and this is where I was born. This is who I am. The elephant in the room parable, is my struggle to fit into an indifferent and at times discriminatory society. The one I call home.

To be born Japanese in Canada, being a visible minority in a multicultural mosaic, paints a canvas like an oxymoron that bites with sarcastic overtone.

Akusenkutou: “An Uphill Battle”

I was born into a society that prejudges anyone who’s different from them. What people instantly categorize is anyone who isn’t like them are suspicious, like I’m a threat. Biased opinions are formed before discovering factual proof.

What’s assumed are certain ideologies in this culturally sensitive world we live in, and as a result I am not always necessarily accepted.

What’s discriminated are certain people, things and events. Humans like me are immediately generalized and boxed based on my race, religion, or gender.

These stereotypical attitudes are ingrained into people starting from their youth, from their parents beliefs and passed down. What’s pigeonholed is people who look different like me, don’t always fit into their squared circle.

What this does is limits my relationships, my growth, and the experiences I deserve, which ultimately narrows my life, keeping me on the outskirts.

Nanakorobi Yaoki: “Fall Seven Times And Stand Up Eight”

My parents as immigrants arrived to this country, Canada, with hope in their eyes. It was the land of new opportunity, a new beginning. They understood the need to prepare themselves to deal with a host of issues, to assimilate into the culture.

To learn a new custom, a different way of living, adopt a new language, eat new food, all in the attempts to fit into mainstream Canadian society.

Doing so must of been traumatic, especially for my mother who must of felt a rupture of separation, when leaving the country of her birthplace, which at least provided her a sense of cultural security.

Chototsumoushin: “Charge Headlong”

To be a visible minority, what’s immediately felt is my skin tone and narrow eyes impacts my ability to be considered a seamless full-fledged Canadian, with all the benefits.

I look visually different, and regardless of generational status as I am a Nisei Canadian, my distinct ethnic features relegates me to the outer regions of being considered authentically Canadian.


What “white” society still has is this stigma, an embedded view, a built in stereotype of what constitutes someone to be a full-fledged Canadian.

Whether it was in school growing up in a rude redneck town, at the workplace or in public, it remains to this day, a stark reminder, the reality of being forced to be consciously aware I am different. I look different from the people around me.

My resentment at times can fester regardless of hard I work, how hard I try to fit in, this in the attempts to dispel these perceptions of being visibly different.

And because of this, I consider the process of attempting to fit into Canadian society, at times traumatic, as I am reminded on a daily basis, I am an outsider.

Canada is a great country, it plays a host to a smorgasbord of ethnic backgrounds. I still often shutter however, because despite I was born in Canada, the reality of acceptance from others always isn’t necessarily so.

Keizoku Wa Chikara Nari: “Continuing On Is Power Don’t Give Up”

Everybody wants to be liked, accepted, especially when we’re young and finding our footing in this world. Being popular is the greatest social currency we can have, and nothing else seems to matter.

I realized early in life, some people will never like me for how I look. First impressions are always first instinct, and not based on who I am or what I do.

There is instant judgment where humans like me are immediately stamped. “If you are different than me, if you are too ethnic, if you stand out,” you are branded with indifference.

Everyone is conditioned to think this way, so I’ve accepted some people on this planet will never accept me, so I stopped my attempts to please everyone, to fit in, so thanks but no thanks.

What makes life generally easier is to have acquaintances that understand me, and to develop human kinship with those who I have something in common with.

So I reach out to you dear stranger, with a good chance of being rejected or ignored by you, knowing well enough to read the tea leaves on those who don’t want to be associated with me.

Otherwise, when I’m sad, I will instinctively edge towards the conclusion something is wrong with me. I then jolt myself back to reality, and remember I was born this way, different.

Ame Futte Chikatamaru: “Adversity Builds Character”

There is a Japanese term for acceptance” rel=”noopener nofollow ” target=”_blank”>acceptance, which is ukeireru. Its translated definition is acceptance of oneself, the acceptance of others, and the acceptance of communities.

What this term summarizes is it concisely answers the two questions which are fundamental to the human condition: “What’s expected of me?” and “How do I fit in?”

I apply this to my life here in Canada , as it helps me to create the calm necessary for day-to-day living.

It means putting the needs of others before mine, while recognizing we are all part of nature. And like nature, we are constantly changing, evolving, hopefully for the better.

What this recognition implies is any crises in life will not last. This too will pass. It becomes a necessity to envision any current stress that’s felt, will hopefully become a distant memory.

Sayonara and Happy Canada Day.

1 thought on “Ukeireru. The Day I Accepted Who I Am Isn’t Really Up To Me

  1. I read your post. The weird thing is, that many people of the same nationality often feel different from others. Some of us feel like we are too fat, or too awkward, or too shy or whatever. We all need to stop judging and being afraid of others who are “different” from those around us. Your situation is, I am sure, a difficult one. Hopefully, as life proceeds, as people get to know you better, they will see that you are no different as a human being. You work, you have a home, you are kind, you do most of the activities that others do. I am sorry, that so many people are not seeing you as another human being. Just be yourself.

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