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Japanese Returnees

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  • Japanese Returnees

    Can anyone refer me to any articles/info about how Japanese adults do when they move BACK to Japan after living abroad (like in the USA) for a long time? My wife, who is from Kyoto, has been living here in America for seven years now, and we are considering a move back. I have heard that Japanese people (particularly women) struggle with Japanese society after they have experienced America for a while.

    Does anyone know of any writings on this topic?



  • #2
    Re: Japanese Returnees

    Children are probaby the hardest hit in Japan, not women, as they are afraid/ unable to display their language skills and more individual characteristics for fear of bullying.

    Just look up "reverse culture shock" - and you will find a lot on it, all around the world, from the Filipino "balikbayan" to the UK "returning expat". Some will even suggest that after 3 years away, it is harder to cope with than the initial culture shock of living abroad.

    TELL (Tokyo English Life Line - affiliated to the Samaritans) have a lot of material on this topic, as despite the name, Japanese are the second largest group of callers.

    Just do a net search, there are hundreds of articles out there, including a PhD thesis from one returnee herself!


    • #3
      Re: Japanese Returnees

      Really? Can you refer me to that thesis? All I find when I do a google search is articles about kids who have lived in the US and gone back to Japan, but nothing about adults. I'll go to that TELL site too.

      Thanks for your help!


      • #4
        Re: Japanese Returnees

        It's here, under her CV with lots of info - Univ. of Washington:


        • #5
          Re: Japanese Returnees

          Research has been done on the phenomenon of reverse culture shock as TH has mentioned above. GENERALLY speaking there are four stages when returning to one's own country/culture:
          1. euphoria - glad to be back; meeting the relatives; everything is new and exciting and hunky-dory.
          2. disapointment - reality starts to set in; "hey,. this isn't what I used to know" or "it wasn't like this in (whatever country)...."
          3. conflict - fight or flight: Fight: fight others; don't accept the new reality; fight society; fight YOURSELF. Flight: drug out, pig out, drink out, bonk out, escape from reality, whatever.
          4. resolution: you have overcome the fight/flight stage, have accepted or resolved the new reality to the previous reality both mentally, emotionally and spiritually. You have internalized/accepted the new reality and have attained a stability to your new reality in relation to your previous reality.

          Needless to say, a lot depends on the individual's emotional/mental make up and character and characteristics. Some people whiz right through; nothing phases them. Others struggle the whole way and MAY get stuck in stage 3 but as said above, generally speaking, those are the four phases.

          I have not done research on this - am not a scholar on this phenomenon but have attended educational workshops in the past on this subject. There are many others in academia more qualified than I to address this topic. BUT I have personally experienced it myself - another story for another time......

          So Andy, what TH says above about it is right on the money. Regarding children, especially pre-schoolers, then usually there is very little problem but after start of elementary school, the very serious problem of bullying does exist just by the mere fact that western society emphasizes individualism in school work as opposed to Japan which emphasizes group work. As far as teenagers are concerned, then you have the culture shock PLUS the topsy-turvy years of teenage-dom.

          Wish you the best of luck.