Some email and online comments in response to Thomas Dillon’s last “When East Marries West” column:

I can really feel for the gent from Iowa who has been living in Japan for 25 years and now wants to go back home. I was an eikaiwa ESL teacher in Tokyo in the 1980s. I thought that when we went back home to Virginia in 1989 the world would be knocking on my door to hire me. Instead, I went through a horrendous reverse culture shock and living off my retirement savings from a previous U.S. job as well as working five part-time jobs for two years until one of them finally went full-time. I’m still in that job.

It was a completely new area — distance education — that a friend was heading up and hired me for as I was passing by his office in a university one day. All completely by chance!

When we came back to Virginia, it was incredible how much we felt like fish out of water and how strong the pull to go back to Japan was . . . and still is! My wife and I go back to Tokyo (as we will this May for two weeks) every two or three years to get our Japanese itch scratched.

Mr. Iowa has a hard road in front of him and I wish him well.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Encourage your friend to make an exploratory visit back to his hometown. He has friends and a teaching position here in Japan. He will be back. Look after his possessions until he returns.


As a fellow long-term resident, I can relate to the bonsai between your toes and the pain of having to say goodbye so many times, but you’re right: Once the nomad bug has bitten, you can’t go back.

Good job on the column. It was a good read.


Ever get the feeling Japan wants us to leave? Tough hanging on without feeling accepted. And realizing how easy it is to get along and things done back home, after so much effort spent over all these years without ever getting accepted.

Regarding jobs, I think how I can’t get a regular job, meaning down-to-earth blue-collar work, i.e., supermarkets/department stores, the trades, box-kicking (I’m white collar here). If ever get home, that is what I’m looking forward to.


I understand this guy. I’ve been in Japan 15 years now, and have started to feel the pangs of homesickness. My parents are aging; I feel I’ve missed many dinners, conversations, etc. Skype is never the same as a hug, or handshake.

I think every foreigner living abroad dreams of their own ‘Iowa’.


In cases where locations are not included in the credit, comments have been taken from The Japan Times website.

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