lifelong friend – a man who had lived in Japan for 28 years,
married a Japanese woman and raised three children there, found
out that I was going to Japan for a year to make an independent
documentary. He called me up to try to talk some reality into
"The only way you’ll ever become a part of the culture,"
he told me, "is if you were born in a Japanese village to
I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I had grown up on several
continents, spoke five languages, served in the Peace Corps, and
already had two travel documentaries under my belt. I was convinced
that I could learn to read and write the language, study the rules,
and if necessary, completely recreate myself – my character,
my way of looking at the world. Whatever it took to fit in.
I was a fool.