Gaijin, or its polite version gaikokujin, means “stranger”, “foreigner”, “alien” in Japan. Talking to strangers might be dangerous. This is one of the first things we teach children. Yet, here I am urging you to talk to a stranger.
These gaijin have the power to think outside the box. Which is a great power. Simple solutions usually come to mind when we look at things from a different perspective. I strongly believe in the power of intercultural communication to promote mutual understanding. Children’s books, to my mind, play an important part in this exchange. In my research, I trace the travel routes of different (mostly Japanese) children’s stories. Coming to Japan, I have become gaijin myself.
Just like my favourite children’s books I’ve become this outside-the-box thinker. Sometimes it is fun and sometimes it is hard to deal with. I’m happy to share my experiences with everyone. And, who knows, maybe one day my daily life may also become a book.