Finally Going to Japan

source: 123rf
Image ID : 75553096
copyright : Sasin Tipchai

 

Next week I will be in Japan for two weeks, and though it hasn’t quite sunken in yet, I will finally see the country which is responsible for 50% of my DNA makeup and many of the  sensibilities and habits which were instilled in me when I was little.

For over 50 years, my desire to visit Japan was coupled with remorse over even wanting to visit without my mother, since she has never once visited the country from which her parents came.  Even more guilt-inducing was thinking about how in the world I could believe that my diluted, half-Japanese self had any right to visit Japan if my mother never got a chance.   For those of you who are wondering why I am not taking my mother on this trip, she is 87 years old, wheelchair-bound, incontinent, and actually refuses to take any trips anywhere due to her weary, broken state.  I know that she will live vicariously through me, as I retell the stories and experiences which I am about to create on this journey to the motherland.

Over the course of 14 days, I will visit Sapporo, Sendai, Kyoto/Osaka, Nara, Nagoya, Hiroshima, Fukuoka (the prefecture which my grandfather was from), Kumamoto (the prefecture my grandmother was from), Okayama, and Tokyo.  Most of my destinations within the land of the rising sun will be reached via Shinkansen, also known as the bullet train.

Because samurai blood runs deep on my grandfather’s side (we are also ultimately descended from the Imperial Family of Japan), I look forward to seeing the older architecture in some areas, and also plan to visit the cemetery in Fukuoka where some of my ancestors are buried.  But what I look forward to more than anything else while I am in Japan is the FOOD.

Many Japanese foods, like chawanmushi, mochi, takuan, sukiyaki, agedashi, ramen, sashimi, anpan, and manju, are my comfort foods, and since I will have all types of Japanese cuisine available to me to sample for two weeks, I have a feeling my taste buds will be very happy.  I also absolutely adore seafood (perhaps I was a cat in a past life), and will probably be eating it every single day while out there, which is why I will also continue to take chlorella daily to control the mercury levels in my body.

Once I return home, I look forward to creating a blog post in which I discuss my adventures in Japan.  It will truly be a blessing to visit the exquisitely beautiful country within which my family’s roots sit.

Multi-Ethnic

Image ID : 10043846
Copyright : ariwasabi

It’s pretty rare these days to encounter someone who is comprised of a single ethnic line. With the popularity of DNA analysis kits, most of us have found out that we are multi-ethnic.

Though it is obvious that I am of mixed heritage, I went through most of my life assuming that my paternal lineage was 100% eastern European. DNA summaries from both 23andme and Ancestry.com told me otherwise. I found out that though my paternal bloodline is mostly Hungarian, with a touch of Balkan, I also have a bit of Italian, German and French in my DNA. My mother’s side is 100% Japanese, which I definitely expected.

There are people like me whose multi-ethnicity is obvious, where you can look at them and see that something is different. Our faces are dead giveaways. I still get a kick out of the fact that some people tell me they don’t see any Asian features, while other people know upon first glance that I have Asian blood. After all, I am more Japanese (50%) than anything else. The epicanthic fold which is so characteristic of Asian eyes is something I possess, and because of it, I can never pencil in a fully lined eye shape. It’s a constant reminder of my Japanese heritage.

Me and my epicanthic folds from my Japanese lineage

Ethnic blending is not only more commonplace, but it is also celebrated more than ever before. What is puzzling is that our need to categorize can often stand in the way of making a pure, empiric assessment of someone who is multiethnic. Jamin Halberstadt speaks of “processing fluency” in multiethnic faces, but his research only examined blended faces created from two individuals, one Chinese and one Caucasian. He states that “racial ambiguity” can render a face less attractive if the viewer must suddenly categorize a blended face into one race.

How do multiethnic individuals identify with their surroundings, and how do they define themselves racially? It turns out there are differences which depend on the particular ethnic mix. As someone who struggles with checking off one ethnicity box on surveys, when push comes to shove, I categorize myself as Asian since 1. I have more Asian blood than any other, and 2. My primary parent, my mother, is Japanese and colored my upbringing with the nuances that a second generation Japanese-American from Hawaii naturally possessed. I can also tell you that by identifying with my Japanese-ness, I was teased and bullied by my very Caucasian classmates who only saw that I was different from them, and therefore, somehow inferior. I almost had to make sure I could blend in at least somewhat just to survive.

According to the Multiracial in America by Parker, et al, I guess I was behaving appropriately:

“…experiences and attitudes differ significantly depending on the races that make up their background and how the world sees them. For example, multiracial adults with a black background—69% of whom say most people would view them as black or African American—have a set of experiences, attitudes and social interactions that are much more closely aligned with the black community. A different pattern emerges among multiracial Asian adults; biracial white and Asian adults feel more closely connected to whites than to Asians.”

Regardless of how I and many other multiracial individuals have been forced to identify with one ethnic community, I am very proud of my Japanese heritage, and will always defend it, especially when someone is quick to fling disparaging comments my way simply because I’m not “pure”. The segment of the global population which is considered pure is growing smaller and smaller, and ethnic blending is accelerating whether people like it or not!

Antibiotic Resistance

antibiotic resistance

I cringe every single time I hear people say that they stopped taking an antibiotic after a day or two because they felt better. Those of you who are not trained in medicine, who flippantly decide that you won’t continue to take an antibiotic because you “feel much better”, should be aware that by engaging in this habit, you are making the issue of antibiotic resistance even worse.

Bacteria are quite crafty, because they constantly find ways to neutralize or block the effects of antibiotics. Most of the time, they acquire genetic mutations from the bacteria which have become resistant. So even if some of the more susceptible bacteria die, even one resistant bacterium can multiply rapidly and thus replace all the bacteria which were killed. Those new bacteria also have the same resistance which the original stubborn bacterium has. This is how things can get pretty ugly pretty quickly in the face of bacterial resistance.
it is a virus
Antibiotic resistance can occur even when patients follow instructions and take the full course of antibiotic therapy, but the chances are far greater when patients miss doses or stop taking the medication because a smaller proportion of the bacteria are killed or inhibited. Another situation in which antibiotic resistance can run rampant is when antibiotics are taken for viral infections such as the common cold. Specific antibiotics are used for specific types and strains of bacteria, and are not one-size-fits-all medications. Yet people continue to foolishly turn to an antibiotic (usually one which was prescribed for a bacterial infection, and which was abandoned before the full course was taken) when they have symptoms which they believe to be from a bacterial source. I have even heard friends freely admit that they took their child’s or spouse’s leftover antibiotic in hopes that it would make them feel better.

Please don’t be one of those people who contributes to antibiotic resistance by being irresponsible about antibiotic use!