The question I've had to answer the most in the past 3½ years in this country is, "What is it about living in Japan that you like the most?"

My reply has always been a somewhat scripted statement about how non-Japanese people living here are able to create a unique community for themselves. We form special bonds that are strengthened by the fact that communication with the locals can be somewhat difficult at times. A friend of mine put it best once when he told me, "I've never felt more included than in this excluded bubble."

I've spent a lot of time analyzing my experience in Japan and expressing my views on the people here, but I never really thought about how they may feel about my presence in this country. This changed last week.