This is an ethnographic case study of four Japanese American university students studying the Japanese language in Hawai‘i. Drawing on Rampton’s (1990) concepts of language expertise, inheritance, and affiliation, this study investigates the role of the Japanese language in the construction of the students’ identities. Moving beyond Rampton’s discussion, the careful examination of the relationship between the individual students and their study of Japanese provides a more accurate understanding of these concepts. The findings reveal that the students’ language inheritance and affiliation, which are understood as their “continuity” with other Japanese Americans in Hawai‘i and their “connection” to the language and culture in Japan respectively, have different significance for each student. It is suggested that, by paying sufficient attention to these two aspects, which are both important factors in the construction of the students’ identities, teachers can integrate the National Standards for Japanese into their classroom more successfully.