I was in training in Tokyo when I was told directly by my Japanese friend that I could (not would) never understand Budo properly because I was not Japanese.
Other people have commented on this already but I happened to come across an interview with Morihiro Saito Sensei on Aikido Journal (1979 part 2
) for those with a subscription:
"Those who think in that way are people who can't teach. As they can't teach correct Aikido, they create that kind of situation. I'm against this. I think Aikido will be reimported to Japan in the future. All the genuine aspects of Aikido will be taken to foreign countries. All the foreigners will take back authentic Aikido. I think in the future Japanese will go to foreign countries to learn it."
Ok, so this may be in the context of Aikido and some may separate that from 'budo'. However it has been recorded that O-Sensei stated that Takdeda Sensei opened his eyes to true budo... so by extension, in my opinion, I feel that Saito Sensei was exposed to and taught this 'true budo' and for Saito Sensei to say what he did... back in 1979.. wow... just wow.
Also, insert IP/IS/Aiki proponents here on Aikiweb that are trying so very hard to get a 'complete model' (please do not ask me to clarify that in this thread) of it back into Aikido so that people can once again have their eyes opened to 'true budo'. These people tend to be largely not Japanese in origin nor do they all live in Japan.
So once again, I do not believe you need to train in Japan to truly understand budo when we have so many sources and access to them. If you are truly passionate about it, you will seek and find a way to learn as much as you can, take on as much as you can and find what budo 'truly is to you' in the end.