I naturalised as a Japanese citizen almost two years ago, and so when I travel abroad, I travel on a Japanese passport.
This is interesting.
My first overseas trip was to the UK, where, for the first time, I had to join the queue for non-EU people. After a really, really long wait, I got to the desk.
“Oh wow, I didn’t know they gave these out,” says the immigration officer.
I am David Chart, and I am an English teacher.
I have been teaching English in Japan since early 2004, so for about fourteen years now. Unlike many English teachers here, I have never taught English in an institutional setting. It has always been one-on-one, or possibly one-on-two, and I have always been freelance. Thus, this essay is about my reflections on the way I have done the job, and may not apply to other people who have done it. I also know that at least some of my current students will read this, and now you know that I know.
Let’s start by explaining why I opened the essay the way I did.
This blog has been somewhat neglected of late, because most of my online writing has been connected to Mimusubi, and my essays about Shinto. That project has now been running for a year, and I’ve written nine essays. I’m currently working on the next one, which will be about Yasukuni Jinja. If that sounds like something you might be interested in, please check out my Patreon page.
A while back, when I wrote an article about racial categories in Japan, I got a response from Baye McNeil, the author of the Loco in Yokohama blog, and the two books that I will be reviewing in this blog post. That response led to me reading his books, which are primarily about his experiences as a teacher of English in Japan. This is a topic about which I also have quite a lot of direct knowledge. In fact, we have been in Japan for very similar lengths of time, and we live close to one another; Yokohama and Kawasaki are adjacent, in the west of the Tokyo sprawl.
I can definitely recommend both books to anyone with an interest in what it is like for someone from overseas to live in Japan long-term. They are engaging, memorable, and thought-provoking. However, I would caution against assuming that this is what it is like for all foreigners who live in Japan. Despite the similarities in our situations, we seem to live in different worlds. How to sum that up?
One of his students invited him to a brothel; one of mine invited me to see the Emperor officially open the Diet.