I have encountered many things in Japan that prompted me exclaim in disbelief, “that did not just happen!”
“I did not just see a guy peeing on the side of the road”
“That bunch of strawberries does not cost $20!”
“That lady did not just ask how big my husband’s thing is”
But the one that takes the cake, something I’ve said (on several occasions) is “that kid did not just stick his fingers up my butt.”
“Kancho,” the act of entwining your lower three fingers together, leaving the two index fingers extended, and shoving those fingers into a nearby bum is a common occurrence in Japan. Think of it as a little kid’s handshake. Oh hiya there Michelle-sensei, great to see ya! KANCHO-ed!
Students ranging from nursery school all the way to high school kancho each other. Some adults are guilty of kancho-ing other adults. Kanchos happen right in front of teachers and those teachers don’t even bat an eye. I guess it’s like the equivalent of a more invasive, personal boundary smashing wedgie.
But this has turned in to my daily life in Japan. Playing with the kids while being aware of their idle hands is just a part of my job. I never thought this would happen, but I’ve gotten used to being violated on a weekly (currently monthly) basis.
Khoa, my loving, devoted husband, has even turned the little terrors on me, telling them, “go kancho Michelle-sensei. “ I was then forced to flee while trying to shield my behind from dozens of tiny fingers. Not funny, Khoa, not funny at all. If I was a decent cook, cleaner, or any help in our daily lives, I would have definitely threatened to stop doing something around the house because of that little stunt!
Kancho-ing is not unique to my area of Japan. It is a nation-wide phenomenon. ALTs, the fun-loving human jungle gyms, unfortunately carry the brunt of school yard kanchos. I’ve heard a horror story of an ALT so fed up with the constant poking and prodding that when kancho-ed, quickly turned around and kicked the kid straight in the chest. Sometimes, this man is my hero.
But really, I would never want to harm a child and going 300 on a kid (this is SPARTAAAA!) is a little extreme. In his defense, I understand how stressful it is to be violated by children while living in Japan and have to act like everything is okay while trying to get the message across to never do that again.
To those of you who have never lived in Japan, please don’t think that everyone here is a crazy pervert and no one is safe from kanchos. Many people don’t kancho. It’s just that ALTs and many foreign teachers are often put in situations where kancho-ing is more accepted and prevalent (school yards, drinking parties, etc.).
Like singing silly songs and using flashcards, it’s just another thing that comes with the job of teaching English to children in Japan.
…at least that’s what I will tell my therapist 😉