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.
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.
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….
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.
- Wear baggy clothing: Reduces the effect of all attacks except the Face Slap. Nullifies biting.
- Keep your back to the wall: Nullifies kancho and butt punch. Expect attacks on crotch to increase as the primary target has been removed.
- Know where your students are at all times: Decreases likelihood of an attack succeeding.
- Take a hostage: Decreases all frontal attacks. Nullifies boob grab, boob punch, and biting. Powerful defense.
- 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.