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.
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.