Autumn Widdoes landed a pretty good posting when the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme placed her on a remote island in southern Okinawa in 2013 to work there as an English instructor at a school.
Part of the job means going out with coworkers to welcome parties at which they will try to get you to try new food. This posed a problem for Widdoes, as she has a severe gluten intolerance. She didn’t have the ability to explain her condition in Japanese but, even if she did, the local staff assigned to help her get settled didn’t really understand what “gluten-free” even meant.
“I was often at teacher events where everyone was eating amazing dishes and I was sitting there with a plate of rice, a salad without dressing and nothing else,” she recalls.