This has been a difficult topic for me to write about, but I feel that after 16 months of exposure, most of the shock has worn away and I can address it calmly. I’m talking about kancho’s. This is a word that can/will stir of fear in even the strongest of ALT’s. What’s a kancho you ask? I’ll give you a hint, its the Japanese word for enema. We were warned to look out for it in training, but even when I had my first one it took me by surprise. They can strike at any time, and sometimes I still find myself falling into kancho traps even after more than a year of experience.
This is all still a little cryptic so let me be a little more specific. The kancho is a children’s prank much like the butt slap or wegie, but so much more violating. Children make their hands in the shape of a gun, but they aren’t playing spy. Those fingers are about to be shoved right up your bum. I’m not talking about some weird sex practice, this is something that happens everywhere especially schools. Since it happens in schools, obviously all clothing is still on, but there is still touching where touching shouldn’t be happening. Kids do it to each other as sort of an unpleasant joke. But it doesn’t stop with students kanchoing each other, they go right after the teachers as well. And since it is a generally accepted (not encouraged) practice I can’t really complain about it. Even though in any other circumstance that would be considered sexual misconduct. I mean politicians get in trouble for having their hands graze a woman’s leg and go just a little too far. These kids just go right for the target. (shutter). There is no teacher to teacher kancho, THAT would be a HUGE problem.
I have been a victim of this joke more times than I want to talk about. It happens every week or so, and would happen more often if I wasn’t so great at the block and dodge. There are students that I have learned to look out for in the hallways. Even if they raise a hand to wave a me I dive to the other side of the hall for fear of stray fingers. I’ve had some strange kanchos. A student substituted his head for his fingers and head-butted me in the butt, brooms during cleaning time are also popular, there’s also the jack-hammer where 1 kancho just isn’t enough and they just keep going. Sometimes after playing during recess I have to spend some time just sitting alone to recover from the shell shock of too many children’s hands.
This isn’t done maliciously, its like a display of trust or “you’re in the club.” Its done innocently enough, and its a really strange way for the students to tell you that they like you. Younger students are more apt to have stray hands but I have heard of Jr High teachers getting the kanch by some of their students. I’ve tried to keep an open mind about Japanese culture, but this is still something that I can’t wrap my head around. Japan is such a shy culture, they are still reluctant to shake hands b/c of germs and touching, but the fingers up someone else’s bum is aOK.
I don’t think I can talk about this anymore. Too many harsh memories. I was lucky enough to dodge all attempts today and would rather not think about any more Kanchos.