The Empty Seat Revisited

When Baye McNeil writes about the empty seat phenomenon in Japan, the aversion that Japanese people have to sitting next to him on public transport, or, indeed, anywhere, he gets a lot of responses. Many of those responses are from people — white, black, male, female — who have the same experience. Many others, however, are from people — white, black, male, female — who do not have that experience. These people often speculate about why he might experience it, or think he does. In turn, he speculates about why the people who claim not to have that experience say that — maybe they are Fake Newsers, or just determined not to see anything that interferes with their image of Japan.
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Japanese While White

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.
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Reflections on Teaching English in Japan

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.
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Mimusubi

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.

Loco in Japan

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.
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Problems Again

I just had some very strange problems on my blog. There was an extra 4GB of data in my account, in “Other”, which I could not delete, which made it impossible for me to receive email or update the blog. My emails to customer support didn’t get a response, so I’ve migrated everything to a different server. Any oddities you find are probably a result of the migration, so please let me know.

Blog Hacked

My blog was hacked last night. I’ve restored from the most recent backup, which was from Sunday, so I don’t think I’ve lost anything. I’ve also taken the opportunity to do a bit more security hardening, although I don’t know where the weakness was. Fortunately, I’m using the Wordfence plugin, which is what alerted me to the hacks. I hope it won’t happen again, and the blog is back to its unhacked state.

It did take all day, however.

Corellon Larethian

I have just published a short, new roleplaying book.

Corellon Larethian is the chief deity of the elves in the Forgotten Realms setting for Dungeons and Dragons. The Forgotten Realms setting was released when I was a teenager, and I have loved it ever since. In a lot of ways, it is the classic RPG fantasy setting, and I like those settings, particularly the elves. I’ve often thought about writing something along those lines, but the question of the Forgotten Realms always came up. Why do it again when it already exists?
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Experiences of Racism in Japan

It has recently been reported that the Ministry of Justice is to survey 18,500 foreign residents to ask about their experiences of racism and discrimination. A lot of the reports are describing this as “unprecedented”, but while it is larger scale than the Kawasaki survey, and apparently focused on racism, the Kawasaki survey is a precedent. One benefit of the reports is that they have motivated me to get the discrimination section of the report on the interview survey translated into English, and publish it online. You should read this before the rest of the blog post, or the post will not make sense.

Problems of Discrimination and Human Rights among Foreign Residents of Kawasaki

As for my translation and discussion of the results of the questionnaire survey, I have separated the translation of the report, which was approved by the city, from the rest of this blog post, which is about my reactions to it.
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Shinto Essay Patreon

Today, I launched a Patreon for essays about Shinto. If people are interested enough to support it, my plan is to write essays that are “accurate and objective”, insofar as that is possible, and use the associated website (Mimusubi) to publish my personal opinions and individual approaches.

If you are interested in the topic, please take a look.