by

kancho2

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 caitlinomara.com.

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.

japanese-preschool

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=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDbA9E6Blbo’]

Surviving the wretched hive of scum and villainy

kancho1

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.

  • http://www.ieatmypigeon.wordpress.com/ Liv

    Oh, the attacks I suffered at the hands and fingers of these little deviants! Boob grabs, slaps, spanks, kanchos … you name it. I absolutely learned to keep my back to the wall and wish I'd thought of taking a hostage because those kids could just not keep their hands off of my rack.

    How do you react to kancho? laugh it off? get angry? I never wanted to inflict my prudish Western upbringing on the kids – since ramming fingers up your teacher's bottom is obviously a-ok in their culture – but at the same time, I simply wasn't comfortable having my boobs or bottom seen as a bullseye. I mean, when I was a kid, I tried to block out the very idea that my teachers even HAD breasts. Once, I very quietly wrote my student's name on the board and went back to the lesson. She was stunned because she didn't get the reaction she wanted (my outrage) AND she was punished at the same time. She never tried it again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/melissa.traylor1 Melissa Traylor

    haha…thanks so much for posting this!! I never knew !! omg!

  • http://www.erin.tofugu.com Tofugu_Erin

    I think your reaction was a good one!

    It's so strange as Westerners to experience this kind of stuff. I've never been manhandled like that in Japan, but I've had similar experiences with exchange students at my previous job (at an elementary school). I found that saying “You can't do that here” with a serious face normally did the trick :/

  • http://twitter.com/ricebyte The ricebyte robot

    That Santa video portrays it perfectly. Sooo uncomfortable. I've even had college-aged friends do this. These kids have no discipline. I've often been greeted by one with a shot to the crotch. I usually retaliate with a firm slap on the head, but it pales in comparison. I've never thought of taking a hostage though, that's pretty good.

  • http://1000thingsaboutjapan.blogspot.com/ Orchid64

    I find it an interesting contradiction in the culture for things like this to exist in Japan which supposedly abhors violence and respects one's elders (yet tolerates physical aggression toward adults from children), and where there is such a big deal made about personal physical space and touching each other that people don't shake hands or hug in greeting.

  • http://caitlinomara.com Caitlin

    Taking a “hostage”…I suppose it depends on the environment of the preschool but the kids thought of it as making the game even more fun. They'd vie to see who could get closer and become the hostage. As long as it's all laughs and smiles, then it's okay.

  • http://caitlinomara.com Caitlin

    I've found that Japan makes excuses for things, mostly for alcohol or children. Little kids, especially those not yet in elementary school, don't have the experience to know any better. After that 1st year of elementary school though, the kids do change a lot, IMHO.

  • WOTDsctoo

    This was a great article, hilarious! But it also seems like really important knowledge to avoid some rather unpleasant culture shock. Culture shock can be an enlightening and humbling experience, but I think I'd like to keep it away from my private areas.

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    Too much amae!

  • Galerius

    I experienced the same when I was in Japan for a few months. What I usually did, when someone tried or successfully reached my crotch with a punch, was taking them down on the ground and sat on them (gently). This counter effect was very successful because they didn't expect this to happen to them and usually they wouldn't try any of those tricks on me any more.

    The first time they tried that trick on me, I was pretty much amazed by that, because you wouldn't expect this from Japanese and especially not from little kids. But after that I saw it as an extra feature that makes the culture more interesting. ;)

  • http://yungibear.deviantart.com Meeeeelly

    Hmm, makes me wish that I grew up in Japan as a kid. My parents used to use this back scratcher to discipline me whenever I did something bad. . -.;;;

    Then again, I did get my hands on it and threw it away, haha~

  • ninjalicker

    We made a “How to” over at HikanNinja. http://hikanninja.com/single.php?pst=50

  • http://asuka.0fees.net/ Aska

    Wow never knew being a preschool teacher was so tough, will be careful when I visit places with a lot of children in Japan ^^”

  • http://www.gamekult.com/blog/amana/ amana

    Oh god! O___O

    I imagine it hurt a max'.
    Aïe! Aïe! >__<

  • Digger

    Hey–I've been wondering this for a while–what exactly is your vocation?

    P.S.–>I work at a summer camp for K-5 graders so you have my sympathy.

  • Digger

    Hey–what exactly is your vocation?

    I work at a summer camp for K-5. I'm hoping it'll prop up my JET application somewhat. But I really hope I never have to put those evasive tactics into practice….@_@

  • Digger

    AHHAHA! Just saw the puppies vs. cat video! Pretty much sums it up.

  • Miku_Sakurai

    Oh dear.
    I shall keep this in my mind, and brace myself.

  • http://caitlinomara.com Caitlin

    I worked as an AET in another program (now closed, due to the merging of districts) on a daily rotation from pre-school to junior high school.

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  • Zaywex

    Haha, I remember my cousin touching my boobs when she started getting curious about that stuff… but she decided she didn't want them =/

  • Zuzu Y.

    Haha, I remember at this one camp I went to there was this guy who would give these. Once applied he would wiggle his fingers. Oh, exciting stuff
    Naturally I stayed as far a humanly possible :D

  • Kate

    I'm a preschool teacher, and I can say I've experienced none of this. I do agree that parents are pretty lax when it comes to children's discipline, but the kids are generally well-behaved, especially in school. If it such a problem, it's up to the adult to say when the children are crossing the line, even if it is a cultural thing.

  • Kate

    Haha, preschool teacher in Japan. =)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/stephanie.a.thomas Stephanie Thomas

    Yeah yeah yeah. I lived with a host family. Those kids were vicious!! I literally got scratches on my chest from them trying to go down my shirt. And “oppai, oppai -ing” Not to mention trying to grab my crotch and stuff. It's…. uncomfortable to say the least.

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  • Rukishou

    LOL! “Take a hostage.” XD

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  • http://unteachable.net/ SimonSays

    Hahaha, I've taught English all over the world but kancho has to be the meanest trick I've encountered. Kids farting after eating to much durian when I was teaching in Indonesia was quite a surprise, too!

    Hang on, maybe using a durian fart as a kancho defense might work. Gross but probably pretty effective!

  • http://unteachable.net/ SimonSays

    Hahaha, I've taught English all over the world but kancho has to be the meanest trick I've encountered. Kids farting after eating to much durian when I was teaching in Indonesia was quite a surprise, too!

    Hang on, maybe using a durian fart as a kancho defense might work. Gross but probably pretty effective!

  • http://mopedronin.tumblr.com Made in DNA

    I got kancho'd (“kancho” means “enema” by the way, for those who didn't know), I immediately whipped around and movie-monster screamed in the boy's face. He nearly pissed himself, the class laughed (after nearly pissing themselves), and it never happened again. EVER. Plus I had the advantage over the children (and the whole school as word spreads like wildfire), they never knew what I was going to do, so it only took a silenced, very serious look to get a child's or even a class' attention.

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  • John

    Crazy. This has travelled to Korea except they call it Dong Chim. I have had the mis-fortune of being exposed once as a teacher. Surprisingly not from one of my students but rather from my manager. You can read more @ http://wp.me/pZ1U7-4r please feel free to leave a comment.
    Thanks

  • LaurenS

    OMG!!!!! i died laughing at this!!! its so funny, nice defense tricks, haha :)

  • Ron L Johnson

    I’d slap the fire out of the little SOB which tried that  on me.

  • Anonymous

    I think we must all know Kancho Survival Guide, It’s very helpful..

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  • Tender_loose

    i raped the first chiness lil boy who touched my arse so i shoved my cock up his when i gave him detention 

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  • Tom

    hahaha, this was fun to read :)

  • Zero

    I liked this article. I really like the fact that he author has a good sense of humor, something you rarely see these days.

  • 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.