Why Japanese is hard (or why we should send the gospel by fax)

Foreigners, especially westerners, often struggle to integrate in Japan. This is evidenced by the prevalence of “gaijin pubs” dotting Japanese cities, packed with white faces almost any night of the week. It’s a place where they can be themselves and talk to people who “get them.”

I’ve been on a journey recently exploring why we foreigners have such a hard time feeling at home in Japan. Some people have cited in-group/out-group mentality or simply “racism.” But while there’s plenty of xenophobia to go around in Japan, and certainly old prejudices don’t help foreigners feel at home, that’s certainly not all Japanese.

And while ingroup/outgroup can be part of the it, I think another huge component of the struggle is in a fundamental difference in communication.