Silver Travel Book Club

August 2023 – The Only Gaijin in the Village

We’ll explore a different destination for each Book Club, and a lucky Silver Travel Book Club reader can win a free copy of that month’s book.

Please note: this prize draw is now closed.

This month the Silver Travel Book Club — proudly sponsored by Travelsphere — is reading The Only Gaijin in the Village: A Year Living in Rural Japan by Ian Maloney.

Told with self-deprecating humour, this memoir gives a fascinating insight into a side of Japan rarely seen. A light-hearted read that’s guaranteed to make you laugh and perfect for fans of Bill Bryson.

In 2016 Scottish writer Iain Maloney and his Japanese wife, Minori, moved to a village in rural Japan. This is the story of his attempt to fit in, be accepted and fulfil his duties as a member of the community, despite being the only foreigner in the village.

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.

It’s not always easy being the only gaijin in the village.

Japan: Land of the Rising Sun

There are few places on Earth where the contrast between traditional and modern is quite so marked as in Japan. Traditional and contemporary collide on Travelsphere’s incredible journey across Japan from the bright lights of modern Tokyo to the traditional cities of Kyoto and Takayama; this country is full of opposites. Take a ride on the iconic bullet train, see the incredible views of Mount Fuji and uncover the poignant history of Hiroshima.

Explore Japanese cuisine with a Japanese sushi-making demonstration. Sushi is one of the most popular dishes among Japanese and the most famous Japanese dish outside the country. Learn how to make this iconic dish at a sushi-making demonstration followed by a delicious tasting.

Head to Daio Wasabi Farm to see how Japanese horseradish is grown. From specially designed walking trails you can explore several fields where the wasabi plants grow. Why not round off your visit with a wasabi-flavoured ice cream?

Sit back and relax as you enjoy an exhilarating rickshaw ride through Arashiyama’s bamboo forest. The sight and sound of the towering vivid green stalks swaying gently and rustling in the wind will last long in the memory.

Make your way to Hakone the gateway to Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain, and the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. The scenery here is breathtakingly beautiful and a cable-car ride over the Owakudani Valley offers spectacular views of mountains, sulphur hot springs and crystal-clear Lake Ashi.

With all these experiences and more, Japan promises to be an adventure you won’t forget.

To find out, call our Silver Travel Advisors on 0800412 5678 and visit Travelsphere.

How to win a copy of
The Only Gaijin in the Village: A Year Living in Rural Japan by Iain Maloney

Are you intrigued by the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’? Comment below to tell us why you would like to visit Japan or if you’ve been, what made it so special.

A winner will be chosen at random in early September 2023.
The competition closes on 31 August 2023.

Read more about all our Silver Travel Book Club reads.

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44 Responses

  1. Been on a brief stop over in Japan as part of a cruise, Beautiful People, Culture, Food and Country. Would love to re visit for a longer visit

  2. It seems so very different from our way of life and I would love to experience another culture

  3. Having had a stroke in 2013 I had to teach myself to read and count again. It took forever, starting with children’s literature. Two years later I was back to adult books and now read 3 a week. I can’t stop, especially as I’m unable to get out and about these days. Books take me places I can’t go.. imagine being taken to Japan!

  4. Son just came back from a visit to Japan. He loved it.
    I found his adventure and the photographs very interesting but I don’t think it’s somewhere I would choose for a holiday myself.

  5. I have visited Japan twice but they were very short trips. I am fascinated by their gardens and would love to explore those more.

  6. I have never been ‘East’ of Pakistan so would love to be able to explore this part of the world.

  7. Japan, the land of geishas,Hello Kitty and Kawaii,
    a land of contradictions
    the land where my uncle met his end in 1944
    A land to explore the past and the now,
    That’s why Japan is my ultimate destination.

  8. Japan full of mystery and heritage. A country that provides much , for internal consumption yet offers goods worldwide, in export. Would love to visit to see it’s rare & unusual displays of flower and fauna.

  9. My husband visited Japan when he was in the merchant navy and is longing to take me there, as I have never been. I’d love to experience the very different culture that Japan has, as well as seeing their magnificent scenery. I’d love to ride on the bullet train, experience the thrills of Tokyo, but also visit smaller towns and villages and meet the local people.

  10. We are visiting Japan in early October with an organised group tour. Looking forward to experiencing the culture, having watched various tv programmes about the food ,places and the people . Would love to visit the lesser well known destinations, perhaps on another trip. Also see a Sumo wrestling match as the performance and rituals are intriguing.

  11. I loved the culture steeped in tradition and history with meaning behind every action . The scenery was spectacular from the coast to the mountains

  12. As a country of contrasts to our own and I would love to see the difference in person.

  13. I would love to see how the Japanese balance the technology of the modern world with their ancient heritage.

  14. It’s been my lifelong dream to visit Japan. I am fascinated by their way of life. I read Japanese novels, and like Oriental art. I have even planned an itinerary now I just need enough money.

  15. Have lovely memories of my holiday to Japan, I even went to night school to learn their language beforehand. Loved seeing all the temples, especially the golden temple and the gardens. The culture is so amazing and very different.

  16. I would love to go to Japan to see the beautiful scenery and experience the culture.

  17. I recently read the Shogun books. Always interesting to read about different cultures, especially ones that go back so many centuries and to see similarities between different cultures separated by thousands of miles.

  18. I would love to be able to take in the sights, too see and experience what Japan has to offer. To taste their food whether it be in a restaurant or in a busy market, and to make memories of a lifetime.

  19. I would love to visit Japan at cherry blossom time & see Mount Fuji, as well as experiencing the culture & the people

  20. High on my bucket list for cherry blossoms. Im a bit of a japanophile though so would like to travel throughout japan

  21. I’m fortunate enough to have visited Japan a few years ago and the think that made it such a wonderful experience was the people. It was such a friendly place with everyone I encountered so keen to help a stranger and introduce them to their country.

  22. We visited Nagasaki which was very moving. Also we spent time in Tokyo, a very vibrant city. Would love to see the cherry blossoms.

  23. Japan had never been on my radar until I watched the Rugby World Cup and realised what a beautiful country it is with so much to see & do and the people seem so friendly & welcoming and proud of their country & values.

  24. I’ve never been to Japan, love Bill Bryson style of writing so this would make great armchair travelling

  25. After 2 weeks in China, we spent a week in Japan. This was a real culture shock- after China everywhere was so clean and tidy, the people were so friendly and helpful. Went on the bullet train and saw Mount Fuji. I would love to go back one day and see the things we didn’t have time to see.

  26. We spent three weeks touring Japan a few years ago and loved it. What made it special was visiting my goddaughter who was working as a ski instructor at the Nagano Ski Resort and taking her on a trip to the Hakuba ski jumping stadium where the Japanese team won the gold medal in the 1998 Winter Olympics.

  27. Reading books by foreign authors about their own countries is such a wonderful introduction to a countries culture and people. I need to read more novels set in Japan then take my first trip there. Would love to see the cherry blossom, ride the bullet train, take photos of Mount Fuji and sample true Japanese cuisine. A dream come true.

  28. I have yet to visit Japan; its on my bucket list. After watching many travel programmes on TV featuring Japan I think to physically experience Japan’s traditions and cultures, not to mention Mount Fuji and the cherry blossoms would be more than worth the journey there.

  29. We are – at last!! – travelling to Japan in September. Long been on my bucket list and we are so excited. Would love to take this book with me 💕

  30. I can remember the stories and pictures my Dad, who was in the Royal Navy, would tell and show of his travels to the Far East and Japan and every now and then I get this huge yearning, that I have to travel there, to see if I can see a little of what was real for him. Always feel I have a little oriental in me!!
    Always enjoyed reading books on the lives of the Geisha ladies, but in general, to see Japan today is a big draw.

  31. I love doing different things and would love to visit Japan, ride on the bullet train, experience the different cultures and also see the blossom trail. There is just so much to explore. Amazing!

  32. Japan is defiantly on my bucket list ,inspired by my son who has a love of their culture and has studied karate for 25 years .

  33. Japan is on my wish list. Hearing other people’s experiences of visiting Has increased my yearning to see the sights and share the culture and find out more about life in. Japan.

  34. I never been there but I would love to go to see the culture, food, scenery and traditions of this country.

  35. Would love to explore traditional Japanese culture in Edo-period Takayama, see spectacular Mount Fuji and feel the rich fertile land where reeds grow in abundance by the water’s edge.

  36. Japan wouldn’t be my first choice for a holiday but I must admit that I found a talk on Zoom that our Alpine Garden Society had during lockdown rather more appealing than the more usual holiday in Japan visiting major cities and perhaps a garden with flowering cherries. The talk featured photos of lovely spring flowers bursting into bloom as the snow receded and a scenic travalogue of rural areas and alpine plants.

  37. Would love to travel to Japan on the ferry from Korea and see the land of the rising sun looming up before me through the mist and sea spray.

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