My Favorite Japanese Practical Joke

Lately I’ve been on a silly kick; that usually happens when I’ve got way too much work to do. As a result I’ve re-discovered my love of the practical joke. In the U.S. one of my favorite practical joke games to play was that one where you make the circle with your thumb and forefinger and see how many ways you can get your friends to look at it. I wasn’t very good at it. I was always the one getting tricked into looking :( . But it was always SO MUCH FUN! :D The more creative the means, the better. For example, taking a cell-phone picture of your hand while making the circle with your fingers, and then sending an email or cell-phone picture to your buddies, is the ultimate “GOTCHA” experience.

Here in Japan, there is one practical joke that I’m quite fond of. I actually learned this during my time at AEON (from one of the assistant managers) and I feel led to pass it on to you. In this game, the goal is to get a person to turn their head, and when they do, their cheek ends up touching your forefinger. The most common method to do this, is to simply walk up behind someone and tap them on the shoulder, leaving your index finger extended. You then wait for them to turn into it:

I got quite a few students with this, and several of my coworkers, too. But in one funny instance, one teacher, was like a ninja at this game! I touched him on the shoulder. He didn’t even move his head. All he did was grab my finger. As I looked at another coworker, in amazement, the teacher had totally repositioned himself and when I turned to to go back to my seat… “Toink.” I felt an index finger poke me in the cheek. SO SNEAKY! But I was so impressed! All I could do was laugh. Not only was this teacher able to avoid finger-pointing doom, HE ENDED UP GETTING ME INSTEAD! This teacher was a pure pro.

As with most games like this, the novelty can and does wear off. Staying creative is the key to winning. Give this game a try. I hope you like it as much as I do.

The Japanese kancho (enema) game is another practical joke-style game where you put your two index fingers together and poke a person in the anus…but nah, not so fond of that one. And I’m not going to recommend you try playing that game with your friends either. I mean can you imagine two adults running around like “Hee hee, I stuck my fingers in your butt.” I just don’t find that amusing…not one little bit. Stick with the cheek-poke game, it’ll go over better.


STEP ONE: Walk up behind an unsuspecting victim

STEP TWO: Tap them on them on the shoulder while keeping your index finger extended

STEP THREE: Get them to turn into it

What other prank-style games do you play where you’re from?

Donald Ash

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  • Nanami

    XD… ドナルドさんはかわいです。

    • Nanami

      But if someone ever did that to me, I’d squeak >_<!

    • Donald Ash


  • icarus

    I think this is an Asian thing though I can’t be too sure. I used to do this with my friends when we were kids. Sometimes the practical joker becomes the victim. Like the index finger hitting the nostril of the victim (gross if it’s a runny nose) or hitting the person’s mouth just as he turns around to say ‘ha?’ (Also gross if you managed to score some saliva on your finger). My favorite is when you go behind someone and knock the back of their knees using your own knees and they bend like this >>. Kids used to say ‘eh, you’re hungry’ because apparently weak knees are a sign of hunger or something.

  • Camille

    They do this in Argentina also. I’m in 11th grade right now and this trick is very popular over here. I used to fall for it very often when i first moved to buenos aires, but now, i have improved in dodging it. haha

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