March 26, 2023


Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Essay: Snakes in Paradise by Wendy Jones Nakanishi

2 min read

In this travelogue, Wendy Jones Nakanishi takes us to Japan as she narrates a personal anecdote in a narrative that is full of unbridled excitement.

A recent survey lists Japan as one of the top ten countries in the world for safety. I can personally vouch for this statistic. It is safe. I have lived in several countries and visited many others, but Japan is the only one in which I have never felt the slightest frisson of potential danger or threat to my person. And yet, even Japan is not perfect. I have twice been interviewed by the local police as they investigated crimes committed near my home in a rural enclave on the island of Shikoku.

I’m an American by birth and have lived in Japan since the spring of 1984, working as a professor of English literature and language at a private university. My husband is a farmer—growing oranges, muscat grapes, and carnations in greenhouses. We live in a close-knit neighborhood of ancient farmhouses and sandy courtyards enclosed by high stone walls. It’s a kind of paradise. The scenery is a tapestry of rice paddies, vegetable plots, and fruit orchards. To the southwest is the silhouette of gently undulating mountains, and to the northeast, the sea. Families have lived here for generations. Everyone knows everyone else, and we all trust each other. Even now my husband and I routinely leave the front door key to our house in a small basket hanging by our front door. Our bicycles are left unlocked in our front garden, and I rarely lock my car.

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