This article was written by Caitlin O’Mara, who has worked for three years in the Tohoku revion of Japan as an assistant English Teacher. She studies Japanese in her free time and works as a contract web geek, providing that a BA in East Asian Studies is not entirely worthless. She can be found at

If you’ve watched the episode of Naruto where he tries to kancho Kakashi, you should know what I’m going to talk about. If you’re unfamiliar with this “fun” childrens’ game, it’s pretty simple: put your hands together with your index fingers out and try to ram them up your best friend (or even better, teacher’s) butt. Not only is this this a harmless game for your friends, it’s also a great deal of fun to do to your teachers.


The army organizes for something devious.

Little kids here are adept at kancho for two reasons. First, they’re just little kids. This means that they’re small, fast, and have no developed sense of empathy or shame. Second, Japanese parents and teachers are remarkably lenient with the under-6 age group. People give the US flak about having spoiled, obese, unruly children but Japan seems to embrace the idea that “kids will be kids” even more. This means that up until they enter elementary school, teachers are at the mercy of the pack. (I should point out that most of the kids are well-behaved, but if you’re perceived as weak or foreign, they attack in groups with the viciousness of the candiru fish.)

For an example of a typical preschool greeting, let the cat and puppies demonstrate.

But wait, that’s not all!

Kancho is only the tip of the iceberg. While it remains one of the more popular “torture” methods of my preschool aged kids, they have a whole arsenal of ways to make me wish I’d received my rape whistle (Many kids have whistles they can blow, in case of a pervert. Excuse me, but where’s my whistle? I think I need one more than them!) during college.

  • The boob grab
    This seems to be the second most common attack, if you’re female (If you’re male, they hit a little further south). Boys and girls alike have no problem running up and giving you a good squeeze. It’s almost like the preschool handshake.
  • The boob punch
    The preschool high five. Obviously, more painful.
  • The crotch grab
    More commonly executed on boys (because, let’s face it, there’s more to grab if you’re male), though, the students who have yet to grasp the anatomical differences between men and women will still happily try both. Then they get confused when their little grab and dash doesn’t affect me.
  • The stomach/butt punch
    This is mostly a height-induced limit – they can’t really reach any higher without a running jump. Little kids loves to hit and punch and I’ve even seen them do this to their own mothers! Without any disciplinary action later! It’s not too bad but if you have a full bladder, it can be quite painful…and almost embarrassing.
  • The face slap
    Quite simply, the kids like to jump up and try to hit you in the face. I should buy them all purple pimp hats.
  • Biting
    This one’s a bit of a conundrum and I’m not sure I understand it entirely. The teachers say its because they like me so much, they get so excited by my presence, that they have to bite something. Me.

Not even Santa is safe….

[yframe url='']

Surviving the wretched hive of scum and villainy


After being thrown into a preschool by your employers (who are probably off to drink and laugh at your pain and suffering), you develop certain survival skills. These are things they don’t teach you in any education class or during the orientation session.

  1. Wear baggy clothing: Reduces the effect of all attacks except the Face Slap. Nullifies biting.
  2. Keep your back to the wall: Nullifies kancho and butt punch. Expect attacks on crotch to increase as the primary target has been removed.
  3. Know where your students are at all times: Decreases likelihood of an attack succeeding.
  4. Take a hostage: Decreases all frontal attacks. Nullifies boob grab, boob punch, and biting. Powerful defense.
  5. Hide in the teachers’ room: Nullifies all attacks. Beware of the Rogue, who can still attack but will suffer unknown penalty later on.

As a final note, I should state that, despite these frequent attacks on my posterior’s integrity, I really do like going to the various preschools. Most of the time, the kids actually enjoy learning English, something the majority of junior high school students hate. Plus, the kids are so cute it’s hard to stay annoyed at those vicious little fingers for long. But I’m fairly certain that even back in the US, whenever I see a cute little Asian kid, I’ll be keeping my back to the wall.

  • Grim

    Ah the kancho, i spent a few months in Japan for a exchange program not to long ago. a word to the wise, bending over is probably the worst thing you can possibly do if there are young kids around, you present yourself as a completely unprotected target. if you need to pick up something from the floor squatting is a better, albeit flawed option. squatting should be a quick maneuver as the less time you spend on their level and in the range of an arsenal of surprising pranks the better. thankfully for me im a tall guy (6ft 3′, very tall in japan) so i didnt have to worry about my upper body much, with the only to points of attack being my crotch and butt i was better off for the most part. when i did get hit by a kancho or surprise crotch grab (usually for looking away from the two youngsters in my host family) it was pretty effective to just hang them upside down for a bit. it would give me at least a few hours of saftey.

  • Paul Bernay

    I’m a Japanese who’s lived outside Japan almost all his adult life. I had no idea kancho had become a tradition among children. Those who have no experience should be careful. It’s very painful. It’s funny only when you aren’t the victim or when you do it to someone else.