Friendship Abroad

(Very Mild) Spoiler Alert: This entry discusses the story of Tonoharu: Part Two in abstract terms. Unless you’re really spoiler-adverse you should be fine; I won’t be going over specific plot points or anything. But if you’d rather not know the overall direction the story is going in, this entry would best be skipped.


One of my main objectives in creating Tonoharu is to paint a portrait of what it’s like to live in a foreign country for an extended period of time.

Several friends who read Tonoharu: Part One told me they had no idea I had such a terrible time in Japan. Actually I had a wonderful experience, but I can understand why they’d assume otherwise. The first book focuses almost exclusively on the loneliness and isolation that are a part of any prolonged stay in a foreign country. But this isn’t the entirety of the experience; in Tonoharu: Part Two, I try to show other facets of life abroad, with a particular focus on the relationships that develop.

In your home country, your pool of potential friends is almost unlimited. You can pick and choose who you spend time with based on compatibility and shared interests.

But in a foreign country, the language barrier prevents meaningful interaction with the vast majority of the population. In the rural areas of countries where English education is poor (such as the Japanese countryside, the setting of Tonoharu), your pool of potential friends can be in the single digits. You either spend time with whoever is around, or you do without human companionship.

If you absolutely can’t stand the people who make up your minuscule friend pool, this can suck. But just as often it can be a blessing in disguise. It forces you into the company of people you’d probably otherwise never socialize with, which allows you to see the world through the eyes of people whose interests, beliefs and outlooks are very different from your own. In this way, even spending time with other foreigners can be a horizon-broadening aspect of life abroad.

Tonoharu: Part Two will be coming out this November. For more information, visit:

  • DVC


    I like the direction in which your narrative is going! I really didn’t detect any sense or ill-boding or anything remotely similar in Tonoharu: Part One, but maybe I need to re-read it?


  • Lars Martinson

    Yeah, I didn’t think “Part One” was that bleak either, until all these people started asking me why I stayed for three years if it was so terrible. Hm…

  • I love your book and want to marry it!

    It was so dead on. I eagerly await the coming of Part 2.

    Thank you for making it!

  • Lars Martinson