In 2016 Scottish writer Iain Maloney and his Japanese wife Minori moved to a village in rural Japan. This is the story of his attempt to fit in, be accepted and fulfil his duties as a member of the community, despite being the only foreigner in the village. Even after more than a decade living in Japan and learning the language, life in the countryside was a culture shock. Due to increasing numbers of young people moving to the cities in search of work, there are fewer rural residents under the retirement age – and they have two things in abundance: time and curiosity. Iain’s attempts at amateur farming, basic gardening and DIY are conducted under the watchful eye of his neighbours and wife. But curtain twitching is the least of his problems. The threat of potential missile strikes and earthquakes is nothing compared to the venomous snakes, terrifying centipedes and bees the size of small birds that stalk Iain’s garden. Told with self-deprecating humour, this memoir gives a fascinating insight into a side of Japan rarely seen and affirms the positive benefits of immigration for the individual and the community. It’s not always easy being the only gaijin in the village.
‘Intelligent, warm-hearted, down-to-earth and often very funny, The Only Gaijin in the Village is a very fine book. Ganbatte!’ Alan Spence, Edinburgh Makar, and author of The Pure Land, Nightboat and Glasgow Zen.
‘What a pleasure to discover Japan in the company of Iain Maloney. Through the highs and lows of setting himself up in a remote rural community – dealing with curious neighbours, growing his own shitake mushrooms – it’s a breath of fresh air to encounter this totally different Japan through his acute observations and unfailing humour. A deep knowledge of Japan, past and present, illuminates Maloney’s account, but the people he meets are always front and centre, making. A joy all round.’ Christopher Harding, author of Japan Story: In Search of a Nation
‘The Only Gaijin in the Village is a delightful tumble into village life, complete with a vivid cast of characters and a beautiful sense of place.’ The Scotsman
‘Putting this above many other “life in Japan” stories is Maloney’s insight, more than just initial reactions to the new and absurd or interesting, but at times past that to some real looks at what it means to leave a home and family, and what it means to find, or try to find your new home and family.’ Ian Josh Yates, Goodreads.
‘Maloney writes with panache and finds humor in even the most mundane circumstances.’ Books on Asia
‘Juxtaposition of humor and insight proves to be the central pattern of the book. Each chapter is layered with shrewd observations about race, gender and generation, and cultural asides, all glued together with levity and distinctive social commentary… The finished memoir is a story that is indeed worth telling, a thought-provoking, lively examination of one immigrant’s quest to create a new home outside his country of birth.’ Kris Kosaka, The Japan Times
‘It’s the kind of book that makes you feel better about life, and we need more of those!’ Alan, Goodreads.
‘Radiant with an infectious enthusiasm for life, Scottish writer Iain Maloney has created a playful, powerful page-turner in The Only Gaijin in the Village, a brilliant blend of memoir and travel writing at its most edifyingly entertaining… Honest, amusing, humble and informative, with prescient political underpinnings… I can’t praise this highly enough.’ Joanne Owen, Love Reading UK.
This book is extraordinary. It is a tour de force. It is a funny, committed and impassioned account… “The Only Gaijin in the Village” is hilarious beyond belief… This book is a hymn of praise about the joys of living in Japan as a foreigner. David Kenvyn, Goodreads
‘Well, it’s been a long, long time since I read a book where I felt as charmed by a narrator as I did by Iain Maloney… The book is less a coherent narrative and more a naturally shifting and growing conversation between him and us. It’s easy to imagine this less as a reading experience and more an imagined chat down the pub. You grab a pint, sit with Iain, and listen intently as he paints you a picture of life in the village… You’ll laugh and cringe and sigh along with every story and, when you start to miss Maloney’s charms, you’ll open the book and do it all again.’ Will Heath, Books and Bao
‘Perfect for fans of Bill Bryson… This book is guaranteed to make you laugh, but it’s emotional moments hit hard and by the end, you’ll feel like you’ve made a friend.’ Savvy Tokyo
‘In a world fascinated by the bright lights of Tokyo, The Only Gaijin In the Village offers a new and welcome perspective of life in Japan.’ Geographical Magazine
‘As a writer he is bold, humorous and current.’ The Japan Society