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
‘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