The Only Gaijin in the Village: A Year Living in Rural Japan

Iain Maloney with Elsa Maishman

20 May 2020

Iain Maloney joined us for an evening exploring the world of rural Japan and the inevitable culture clash that ensued when an emigrant Scottish writer went to live there. In 2016, Iain and his Japanese wife, Minori, moved to a village in Gifu prefecture.

This book tells of of his attempt to fit in, be accepted and fulfil his duties as a member of the community, despite being the only only gaijin (foreigner) in the village.

This event took place on Wednesday 20 May 2020, as part of our #WigtownWednesdays programme.



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.

“Intelligent, warm-hearted, down-to-earth and very funny, this is a very fine book”, Alan Spence.

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