Who in Japan Decided that Finger-Enemas Would Be a Fun Game to Play?

One of my duties as a new ALT in a Shougakko ( or Japanese elementary school) is to have lunch with the kids everyday. I just finished having my first school lunch with about 25 second graders. You might think that would be intimidating, but it was SO much fun. There were three other Japanese teachers in the lunch room with me. The kids were extremely well behaved during lunch and during souji (cleaning time). They were as curious about me as I was about them.

I started to notice that after lunch, kids became slightly more “friendly.” After lunch, I started to feel a bit like the classroom pet (it was all in good fun, though) as the kids kept touching and petting my bald head. Things quickly took a turn for the worse, though. Do you know the kancho (かんちょう) game? Sounds like a fun game to learn more about Japanese culture, right? WRONG!! It’s a part of Japanese culture, but it’s not a fun game to play…unless of course you enjoy enemas (hey, I’m not gonna judge you if you do, I’ll still be your friend).

Kancho, かんちょう, can have several different meanings. The meaning in this case it’s an expression for an enema. If you’re not familiar with the game, by all means let me teach you the basics. A person, usually a small kid (or gang of kids) whose fingers fit just perfectly, will walk up behind you put their hands together with both index fingers touching and extended like so:


or if you’re unforunate enough, index and middle fingers extended:

A bit more unpleasant.

or if Satan himself decides to toy with you that day, you win the prize: the thumbs crossed, palms together with ALL FOUR fingers extended:


If a child actually succeeds in poking you with all four fingers, I do know the numbers of several good hospitals here in Japan.

If you hear “Gan”…I’m sorry to say…but your anus has probably already been poked. Why on earth do kids do that, anyway? Since when does being gang-“analized” by young child fingers constitute a good time?!? One kid even poked for my crotch!! No sir! Not Mr. Ash!
I remember the first time it happened to me when I was working at the Eikaiwa, I just didn’t expect it at all, and it was so forceful…I spent so many nights in the fetal position crying myself to sleep at night. No, but seriously, the very first kid who got me must’ve been a pro: he had speed, stealth, timing, and placement…every element necessary to be a “winner” at this game.

When he actually did it, I got so mad because it hurt (my pride more so than my posterior). I turned around and I was like “WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? THAT AIN’T FUNNY (notice that proper English has gone out the window at this point)! DON’T DO THAT!! You don’t poke anyone in the butt!!” All I got was a blank stare. After fuming a bit I realized that my words were falling on deaf ears. This Japanese child probably understood about two percent of what I was telling him. I think he got the picture from my facial expression and body language, though.

After that happened, I wondered just how I could prevent myself from being a victim next time. Now, I am always on the ready; you might say I suffer from an extreme case of PTP syndrome or post-traumatic poke syndrome. If a child is behind me for any reason, I start sweating, my heart starts pounding, by blood pressure elevates, my adrenaline feedback loop starts to kick preparing me for my fight or flight” response (flight is probably the better option as striking a child is frowned upon in many countries). I figure if you Heisman a few kids, everything will be fine (No!…don’t actually do it!).

All in all teaching in Japan has been, and continues to be, an amazing experience. Being poked is never fun, but if you’re alert or if you wear underwear with a protective metal strip (I should invent those) where your crack is…you should be fine.

Oh kids…they do the darndest things.

Watch your back…no…really.

After my first lunch, I am very encouraged. I don’t know if every class is going to be like this, but after finishing up my first week at my elementary school I can tell that I made the right choice going to an elementary school over a junior high and leaving the Eikaiwa scene. LOL.

Donald Ash

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  • devin

    Oh my…this post makes me laugh. I think there could be a million and one smart alek things I could say here but I will be a good person and refrain. :P

    Glad that even after this experience you are still glad to be an ALT!

  • Nanami

    *laughs* You need some of those battle panties from 300. Those things are totally Kancho proof.

    • Donald Ash

      That’s HILARIOUS, Nanami! But definitely a good idea. They are kancho proof. I’ll keep the cast-iron, battle panties idea in mind. I wonder if a child could break a finger though? Would I get in trouble? Hmm…

  • *chuckles* I don’t know if you’d get in trouble but I’m seriously thinking about getting a chastity belt if I get past my interviews with Interac.

    • *cough* same concept of battle panties i mean.

  • Roger Starkey

    Defeating the kancho is the challenge of every schoolteacher.

  • fredmushell

    After reading this, a few questions come to mind.

    1. Do kids do this to other kids and what is the peak age for this activity?
    2. Is it played like game of tag: “Kancho your it!”?
    3. Is it mostly boys and men (I am thinking of Shin Chan) or do girls do the poking
    4. It sounds like kids do it to adults but is it ok for adults to do it to kids?
    5. Is there any male female component to this:
    A. Can a male student do this to a female teacher?
    b. Do female students do this to male teachers?
    C. Do male and female teenagers and college student do this to each other?
    6. Do adults do this to each other?
    7. Can an adult male do this to a female adult without sexual harassment charges?
    8. Can a student do this to a teacher without getting in trouble?
    9. I think Kancho also means enema, does getting finger poked in the anus imply you
    just got an enema.
    10. How popular are enemas in Japan and have most of the people playing this game had
    at least one enema or is the game just about poking somebody in the anus and
    watching them jump.
    10. How often does this end in violence?
    11. Are there any unwritten (or formal) rules as to who do this or who this can be done
    12. Who is the most important or famous person who has done this or had this done to
    them in public?

    P.S. There was probably some misuse of who and whom in the above.

    Member in good standing SFTAOTEL (Society Four The Abuse Of The English Langauge)

  • fredmushell

    How can I edit my last post?

    • Donald Ash

      uh oh, it’s not letting you do it. Umm, you may have to copy, paste, and repost. If you do that, I’ll get rid of the duplicate on my end. Thanks for posting Fred :)

  • Harold

    Say, would you like a chocolate covered pretzel?

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