Japan’s Multicultural Youth

Hello. Thank you for visiting this page.

My name is Danau Tanu. I am a Visiting Research Fellow at Waseda University.

I would like to interview young people with a multicultural background. Please read below to find out more. (Also available in 日本語 or Bahasa Indonesia.)

Topic: What are you researching?

Japan’s population is becoming more diverse but there is very little research on the experiences of children and young people growing up with a multicultural background.

This research focuses on how multicultural people in Japan are impacted by one or more of the following factors:

  • mobility/moving
  • schooling and education
  • media (including social media)
  • social relations (family, friends, community, etc.)
POSTER. interview participants needed. BEING MULTICULTURAL in japan. If you're bilingual or culturally mixed in any way, we want to hear from you!  Speech bubble: Am I Japanese enough? Contact details: Dr. Danau Tanu, Waseda University LINE dtanu | danau.tanu@gmail.com

Participants: Who are you researching?

In this research, I am looking for children and adults (no age limit) with a multicultural background and a Japan connection. If you have received some Japanese schooling (in Japan or overseas) and identify with one or more of the following, please let me know:

  • spent some of their childhood outside of Japan (3 months or more before age 18),
  • have one or more parent(s) who were born overseas,
  • have one or more parent(s) who are ethnic minorities in Japan,
  • grew up bilingual/multilingual as a result of mobility, schooling, media, friends, family, etc.
  • other*

(*If you feel you are multicultural but don’t fit in the above categories, please let me know, I’d love to hear from you!)

Method: How do you collect data?

As an anthropologist, I will collect qualitative data through interviews (main method) and ‘participant observation’ (optional).


I will interview participants as follows:

  • Duration
    1.5 ~ 2 hours (depends on your availability)
  • Time & place
    We can meet at a time and place that is convenient for you. (In person interviews are preferred but online interviews are possible too.)
  • Questions
    I am interested in the participant’s childhood and current experiences relating to the research topic. The interview is informal, so I will guide the general topic of conversation but there are no formal questions. Participants can share as much or as little as they want.
  • Recording & permission
    Interviews will be audio recorded with the your permission. If you are aged 17 years old or younger, I will also ask for permission from your parent or guardian.
  • Privacy & anonymity
    I will later transcribe and analyse the interviews and quote some of it in publications. Unless you specifically request that I use your real name, I will always use pseudonyms to protect your identity, anonymity and privacy.
  • Covid measures
    The researcher has received 3 covid vaccination shots and will abide by the regular measures such as wearing a mask when not eating or drinking and maintaining social distance.

Participants often tell me that they enjoy being interviewed because I try to make sure they feel comfortable sharing their stories. This means that if you don’t like a question, you don’t have to answer it. Also, you can say ‘yes’ to an interview and then change your mind later during or after the interview. For example, if you change your mind after the interview, you can ask me to delete the recording. You don’t even have to explain why you changed your mind.

Participant observation (Optional)

Anthropologists also sometimes use a method called ‘participant observation’. This means we hang out with people ‘in real life’, such as at work or when they spend time with friends and family. This helps us gain more in-depth understanding of their experiences. But I will only do this with your permission of course!

Contact: How do I participate?

If you would like to participate in the research or find out more about the research, please fill in the Contact Form or feel free to contact me directly.

Output: What will you do with the data?

After transcribing and analyzing the data, I will publish the findings in academic journals (e.g. journals in anthropology, sociology, migration studies or education) to contribute to the scholarship on multicultural identities and education.

I will also publish the findings as newspaper opinion pieces or magazine articles (e.g. education-related magazines) to reach a broader audience and contribute to the public discussions on relevant issues.

I may also publish my findings as a book (for the same reasons) depending on the amount of data and subsequent funding opportunities.

Photo of the Waseda University Uni Shop & Cafe 125. Outdoor seating in the front, trees in the background.
Uni Shop & Cafe 125 at Waseda University

Affiliation: Who are you?

Dr. Danau Tanu is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Waseda University Institute of Asia-Pacific Migration (WIAPS) in Tokyo, Japan. She is on a long-term research fellowship funded by The Japan Foundation. You can also learn more about her past research and background.


If you have any questions or would like to find out more about the research, please contact me via:

Thank you!

What’s the real problem? Can you see it?

CIS I-DEA foundation workshop: keynote day 3

This is the e-handout for the Keynote for Day 3 of the CIS Inclusion via Diversity, Equity & Anti-Racism Foundation Workshop held on 17-19 March 2022.

It includes the resources mentioned in the presentation, slide deck, and additional resources.

Poster: Keynote Speaker. What's the real problem? Can you see it? Speaker bio. Dr. Danau Tanu


Racism affects all students. We are all complicit in it. But how? In this keynote, Dr. Danau Tanu challenges us to a paradigm shift that lays bare the way structural racism infiltrates the student experience even in areas that seem unrelated.

She shows how the ‘hidden curriculum’ can obscure the real, underlying issues in areas such as international transitions (including repatriation), classroom engagement, campus social life, academic learning, and so on.

Her keynote will help us see old problems in new ways and be better equipped to support students.


To challenge us to think of old ‘problems’ in new ways by:

  • rethinking the frameworks we use to analyse ‘problems’
  • ensuring fairness in the way use these frameworks or categories
  • understanding that it is okay to address ‘the ugly’ in our hearts
  • understanding that racism affects all students
Image of an iceberg. The tip is above the water surface but most of it is submerged. The tip is labeled 'International mindedness' and the submerged portion is labeled 'hidden curriculum'
The Hidden Curriculum. Adapted from graphics designed by Mifune Takashi at irasutoya.com. Graphics copyright: Mifune Takashi.

Slide deck

The slide deck from the workshop is available in PDF format.

Resources mentioned

The resources mentioned in the keynote address are listed below in order of appearance.

Main text: Growing Up in Transit: The Politics of Belonging at an International SchoolDanau Tanu, 2018. 

Racism in international education. Growing Up in Transit - in paperback poster

Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, 3rd Edition. David Pollock, Dr. Ruth E. Van Reken and Michael Pollock, 2017.

Safe Passage: How mobility affects people & what international schools should do about it. Doug Ota, 2014.

ISC Research: The international school student profile – The 2021 Report

Misunderstood: The Impact of Growing Up Overseas in the 21st Century. Tanya Crossman, 2016. See also www.tanyacrossman.com

‘Third Culture Kids: The Return Home’ by Tim Brantingham in Sandwich Parenting.

Additional resources

TCKs of Asia live forums & podcast.

TCKs of Asia w team profile pics

For more resources, see here.


Someone asked during the live keynote session: ‘What is inspiring you these days?’ A: I’ve been taking a lot of inspiration from this.

What’s the real problem? Can you see it?

Inclusion via Diversity, Equity & Anti-Racism Foundation Workshop

The Council of International Schools is hosting a 3-day workshop on IDEA. I will be giving one of the keynote talks as below.

What’s the real problem? Can you see it?

Racism affects all students. We are all complicit in it. But how? In this keynote, Danau challenges us to a paradigm shift that lays bare the way structural racism infiltrates the student experience even in areas that seem unrelated. She shows how the ‘hidden curriculum’ can obscure the real, underlying issues in areas such as international transitions (including repatriation), classroom engagement, campus social life, academic learning, and so on. Her keynote will help us see old problems in new ways and be better equipped to support students.

The miracle of the shack

I want to share with you something personal and close to my heart.

The last few weeks have been difficult (for reasons I cannot disclose). As I searched for clarity and healing, I knew I needed to hear something real that could speak to my soul. So I scoured the internet for talks by William Paul Young (links below).

Night after night, I watched Young’s videos in tears as his God-inspired words broke through the current pain and laundered away past trauma.

But why Wm. Paul Young?

‘The Shack’ by Wm. Paul Young

Young is the author of The Shack – an accidental international bestseller that has sold over 22 million copies in more than 40 languages.

He wrote it as a Christmas gift for his six children and some friends to share with them his story of childhood abuse and healing through fiction. That Christmas, Young worked three jobs cleaning toilets and answering phones. He was broke and made 15 copies of the book using money a stranger had gifted him.

He had no intention to publish the book. But Young’s friends later urged him and The Shack debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times trade paperback fiction best-seller list on June 8, 2008. It stayed there for 136 weeks (at No. 1 for 49 of those weeks). This happened after they had first self-published and sold a million copies out of a garage.

The Shack (2007) by Wm Paul Young

I originally read The Shack close to ten years ago. I gasped with delight when God the Father appeared as a Black woman called ‘Papa’ and the Holy Spirit as an Asian woman named ‘Sarayu’, which means ‘air’ or ‘wind’ in Sanskrit and is also the name of a river in India. And Jesus was … lo and behold … an actual Jew! (Duh.)

The multicultural, multi-gendered trinity appealed to the ‘Third Culture Kid‘ in me. Young was a white Canadian who had grown up overseas with the Dani tribe in Papua in Indonesia – and it showed.

But becoming a bestseller is not the real miracle. The real miracle is what the book and its backstory did for countless many – like they did this past Sunday night, and more, in me.

The beauty of relationship

Soon after reading The Shack, I found one of Young’s interviews online. I was struck by the beauty of the way he described our relationship with God in all its messiness and mysteries.

This past week, years later, as I struggled with the confusion of the present situation, I remembered that indelible beauty. So I googled, as you do, and found many more videos of Young’s talks and interviews that didn’t exist a decade ago.

Letting the stories and words I heard work through my own shack – my heart – has been painful. But also healing.

It would be a waste to keep them to myself. I hope they speak to you too.

You’ll find below:
  • The Shack
    Film version
  • Restoring the Shack
    Series of short videos on the backstories
  • The Talks
    Powerful testimonies of Wm. Paul Young’s backstory
  • The Sermons, etc.
    Deep revelations on how God comes into our shacks no matter how broken we are

The Shack – film version

Octavia Spencer is God the Father in The Shack. And her favourite refrain to Sam Worthington’s human Mackenzie, who is broken on the inside, is: ‘I am especially fond of you.’

The Shack (2017)

In case you don’t have time to read the book, you can watch the film version of The Shack for free on YouTube. You can also find it on Netflix. Check out the trailer below.

The Shack – Official trailer.
Click here for the film

Restoring The Shack with Wm. Paul Young – A series

In this series of short videos, Young focuses on different topics found in The Shack. He reads selections from the book and includes many stories of miraculous coincidences and insights that came after the book was published. He also tells us of stories from his readers about how the book came into the midst of their own ‘great sadness’.

The series has 20 episodes that are easy to digest, starting with Episode 1. But if you want to watch something more hard hitting, scroll down.

Trailer for Restoring the Shack. (Or see here for Episode 1.)

The Talks

This is my favourite category of Young’s videos – the talks. Many of the stories in these videos overlap but each one I watched contained new nuggets that spoke deeply to me. I’ve included several of them below.

Young’s story as a third culture kid & missionary kid

Of all the talks, this one best captures Young’s own story – the backstory of The Shack. If you’re not into Christian jargon, skip the first bit and start at 11:50 minutes.

He begins with his childhood in what used to be called ‘Irian Jaya’ on the island of New Guinea . He tells of childhood sexual abuse in his village and later at boarding school, and the long journey it took to heal from it.

Young’s powerful testimony in detail

In this video, Young goes into more detail about his adulthood – how he met his wife, his sibling relationships, and the depth of his childhood shame that led to religious addictions, manipulative coping mechanisms, an affair, near suicide, and the 11-year healing journey.

Young speaks of how we, humans, are ‘too incredibly crafted for simple solutions’. We need deep love and care to unwind the damage within.

Talks at Google: The Shack and its Aftermath

Young says that one of the greatest gifts the book gave him is ‘an invitation to walk on the holy ground of other people’s stories’.

In this talk for a more secular audience at Google, Young shares about the powerful impact that the book has had on the lives of some readers.

Lies We Believe About God: A conversation with Wm. Paul Young

Have you ever felt uncomfortable about the brimstone and fire image of God and how Christians often use this to scare people into a religion? What does the ‘wrath of God’ mean anyway? If you’ve ask these questions (I sure have), then you might like this interview.

Another interview

I also liked this interview though I cannot remember how the content differed from the other ones. Sorry!

By the way, for those of you who think Wm. Paul Young’s name sounds familiar, well, that’s because he’s on the cover of the Third Culture Kid book. Yup.

Wm. Paul Young’s endorsement on the cover of Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds

The Sermons, etc.

God has Never Been Separated From Us with Baxter Kruger

(Updated 14 May 2022)

As I watched Wm. Paul Young’s videos, I was introduced to others who also believe that God has never been separated from us. God is and has always been in our shacks no matter how broken we are. Baxter Kruger’s explanation was mind blowing.

A sermon on Genesis

This one is an actual sermon rather than a testimony of Young’s personal story. I include it here because I was fascinated by the way he talks of God as masculine and feminine.

More than that, I was struck by the way Young speaks to that part of us that find it difficult to trust the character of God.

Encountering the God of Unending Love with William Paul Young

(Updated 5 May 2022)

Church is a struggle for me. Having been to churches in different countries with different languages and culture, I’ve concluded that they are 99.9999% human religion and culture, and 0.0001% God. But still I go (occasionally) – for that 0.0001%.

When I do go, I tend to drift around on the margins of its culture where it feels safer and more comfortable. As a result, I’m often seen as ‘backslidden’ by others even though I don’t believe that I am. But still I go – for the community.

Don’t get me wrong. There are also things that churches do that I benefit from. But for the first time, in this podcast episode, I heard someone explain, without mincing his words, what it is that felt ‘off’ all these years.

‘Only be Christian when it’s helpful,’ says Young, because there are many other ways to talk about our connection with God. Our relationship with God is not a religious system.

Besides, Jesus wasn’t a ‘Christian’ was he?

In fact, Young goes on to urge: ‘Let’s not tie our identity with a system—not to a nation, not to a culture, not to our colour—because those things are not our identities.’

Damn right.

I have not finished watching Wm. Paul Young’s videos. So I may add more here when I find more that speak to me. Thanks for reading and being interested. Feel free to come back to this page later or share it with your friends.

SPAN Symposium – What needs should international schools focus on, going forward?

I will be presenting at the SPAN Symposium in early March. My focus this time will be on the way issues of structural racism intersects with issues relating to mobility.

Danau’s session: 9:00-9:50AM CET / UTC 0, March 6 (Day 2)
Symposium dates: March 5-6

Safe Passage Across Networks (SPAN) specializes in transition issues relating to international mobility. According to their mission statement, SPAN ‘offers a home to anyone committed to healthy transitions and attachment security. We connect, equip and refresh transitions-care providers.’

To register click here.