I just got home from attending a wonderful event at the residence of the Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. It was hosted by Ambassador and Mrs. Ichiro Fujisaki, the U.S. – Japan Council and the Japanese American Network.
First and foremost, the Ambassador’s residence is breathtaking. One of the unique and special things about living in the DC area is the many beautiful embassies that are spread throughout the city. Among the best and most beautiful are the embasssies from Japan, Italy, France, Sweden and Russia. The Japanese one has many authentic rooms, including a Japanese tea room and gardens — very similar to what I remember my Grandmother’s house was like in Tokyo.
Secondly, there were a couple of terrific speeches, including from two special guests … Norman Mineta, the former US Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of Commerce, and Senator Daniel Inouye from Hawaii. Both men delivered heart-warming remarks, especially about the importance of growing up as Japanese-Americans in the US. I’m sure many of the 300 Japanese Americans in attendance could relate to the remarks … I certainly did.
One fact that surprised me … there are 14 million Asian-Americans living in the US, but only 800,000 are of Japanese descent. Heck, there are nearly double that number living in Brazil (there are over 1.5 million people of Japanese heritage living there).
I grew up in Japan — I spent 13 of my first 16 years three — I attended American schools on US military bases but I spent a great deal of time with my Japanese relatives. For that, I’m very grateful. I try to make it to Japan at least once a year – I love visiting Tokyo, one of my favorite cities in the world, and I very much enjoy seeing my aunties, uncles and cousins.
As I continue to focus on building my new sports business, I’m going to continue to focus part of it doing business in Asia, primarily in Japan and China. It feels good and it feels right.
While at times it seemed a bit difficult growing up half-American in Japan as well growing up half-Japanese in the US, I’m now glad and grateful that I’m parts of two wonderful cultures. And, as I tell my friends, being of mixed racial heritage is “in” now. After all, look at two of the most famous people in the world — President Obama and Tiger Woods. It’s all good.