“The Female Experience (in Japan)” — podcast

Until last week, no one had ever asked me to discuss how I wrecked a gorgeous autumn day in Japan by initiating a game of chicken with a middle-aged man I had never met … or the ramifications it would have on my dating life.

But that’s the squirm-inducing scene from my memoir, The Same Moon, that Amy Chavez invited me to share on her Books on Asia podcast, which was released this week. The episode is titled, “The Female Experience Teaching in Japan.”

Near the scene of the “incident.” (This shot doesn’t do the scenery justice.)

I love this topic — the female experience — because it was always top of mind for me when I lived in Japan. There I felt more defined by my gender than I ever had growing up in the States. Living as a teacher in Japan, my being female impacted the vocabulary I used, where I was expected to sit at a table and what I did at work (like serving tea). Thankfully, I have a host family there — we met 36 years ago and are still very much in touch — who helped demystify various situations I found myself in.

>> If you’re curious about whether Japan has changed for working women since I lived there in the mid-1990s, here are a couple of blog posts I shared in 2019: “Is Japan still like that?” and “In Japan, working women are on the rise … sort of.” <<

Amy’s thoughtful questions and observations brought back memories from those days in Japan, plus some of the surprises that awaited me when I returned to the States. Turns out I had lots to learn about being a woman in the workplace back home as well!

Most of all, it was fun comparing notes with Amy, another woman who loves inaka — the Japanese countryside — and who has spent decades living on a small island in Japan’s Inland Sea. She shares her experiences encountering her island neighbors in her recently released book, The Widow, the Priest and the Octopus Hunter (Tuttle, 2022).

Whether you listen to the podcast interview or not, I encourage you to meander through the Books on Asia website. You’ll find book reviews, interviews and more. But be warned — you will likely find your reading list growing in unexpected but happy directions!

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