I have been warned. I have been repeatedly warned by family, friends and peers that Japan was full of perverts, which was why I smuggled peppy spray into my suitcase. At first I was skeptical, what man isn’t a pervert? No matter where I go in this world, there are bound to be perverts and unconventional behaviours alike. It wasn’t until I heard stories of what people experience in Japan, and actually experiencing it firsthand that I want to inform others about this pervert sub-culture.I have been warned. I have been repeatedly warned by family, friends and peers that Japan was full of perverts, which was why I smuggled peppy spray into my suitcase. At first I was skeptical, what man isn’t a pervert? No matter where I go in this world, there are bound to be perverts and unconventional behaviours alike. It wasn’t until I heard stories of what people experience in Japan, and actually experiencing it firsthand that I want to inform others about this pervert sub-culture.
I know that women get groped on the crowded trains in Japan. I know this. I’ve heard of it before I came, and from others who have actually been groped. Men take advantage of the proximity factor: they grind against their neighbouring female counterpart or fondle their buttocks. Absolutely loathsome behaviour. Luckily, some of these issues have been minimized with train cars that carry only female passengers. But not every female board them.
We were walking towards one another when I saw his arm reach out and attempt to grab my buttocks.
Although the majority of train victims are females, males are also victimized. Well, mostly foreign males that is. Japanese men are extremely curious about penis size. A guy friend I met through training was grabbed on the train while he was sitting down by a Japanese male. They really want to know how race affects penis size. Some Japanese men will go to the extent to stare or grab in public washrooms or in public bathes.
I have another friend that I met through training who encountered train-grinding within the first few weeks of settling in. Seeing as how she is Caucasian, it was hard to believe that a Japanese man was bold enough to perform such an act; since most men are either extremely intimidated – ”or in her case – ”intrigued by foreigners. When he started to grind his genitals from behind, she turned around and said: “No! Stop! Don’t do that!” He got embarrassed and went away. When the train started to clear she saw the same old, dirty man grinding against a Japanese woman. This time, the victim did not tell him to stop or go away. In fact, nobody else on the train said a word or acknowledged the situation.
This repulses me. Japanese culture is excessively reserved and taciturn. In fact, people often feel shy and rude if they blow their noses in public. So instead, they hide in bathroom stalls to do this deed. This is one of the reasons why the train phenomenon is a daily reoccurrence to female victims in this nation. There is nobody to stand up for them – ”even the victims seldom stand up for themselves. And people wonder why things haven’t changed. If every female victim begins to stand up for themselves, this phenomenon will eventually be extinct and everyone can feel safe to stand close to one another on the train. Everybody knows that this behaviour is inappropriate, but since the massive population of train victims have been letting the situation slide and proceed, this phenomenon will only continue.
My closest pervert train experience happened while I was walking towards the train station after lessons. It was about eight in the evening and the road was nearly empty. There was no sidewalk, just one road with lines painted on it for pedestrian walkers. I was walking uphill as a saw a man in his twenties or thirties in a loose t-shirt, cargo pants and glasses. He looks like the typical anime worshipper, and he just came out of an Izakaya, which is a Japanese drinking establishment. We were walking towards one another when I saw his arm reach out and attempt to grab my buttocks. My reflex was amazingly sharp that night and I was able to block him. He failed. I was in shock and petrified; all I could do is shout a muffled “Hey!” But he just kept on walking towards his destination, where ever it was. If only I knew how to say sexual harassment in Japanese, or anything similar to let him know it’s inappropriate. Now I walk to and from the train stations with the pepper spray in my hand and turn around every few minutes. Is this the life to live?
I sit down on the carpet and begin my lesson after taking the attendance. Little Kenshin pops forward and touches my breast.
My other pervert experience happened while I was at work. As an English teacher, I teach students ages 2-15. And being able to teach young children, I am able to more fully comprehend why males have grown up in a culture where female-objectification is acceptable.
I sit down on the carpet and begin my lesson after taking the attendance. Little Kenshin pops forward and touches my breast. “Dame!” I yelled in Japanese. (means “bad”) He looked scared at first, and then it turned into a triumphant grin. There was no point in lecturing a three year-old when they cannot understand English. So I let it slide. After awhile, I turn around and he pats my behind with both hands giggling. “DAME!!” Later in the week, I talked to a Japanese staff about his behaviour. Apparently she also experienced the same breast-grab and she had tried to talk to his mom about his inappropriate conduct. According to his mom, he does this with her and to other females – ”and nobody has said a word or scolded. This is why he doesn’t think it’s wrong. And this is how the pervert sub-culture is bred.
I can go on listing all the deviant activities I have witnessed and heard. From the normal grab and grope to drawing nipples at the bottom of my W’s, but the most inappropriate act so far is the feared “Kancho.”
Personally, I have never experienced being kanchoed. I wake up being grateful every day. My students are not that bad, out of my two hundred students, only three stands out as perverts. My co-workers, female and male, have experienced much more terrible deeds.
If you clasp your hands together and stick out your two index fingers, you are ready to kancho someone. Your two index fingers are the weapon, you insert them into someone’s anal area when they are vulnerable and aren’t looking. Horrendous, right? Above all, it is mostly little children doing this to their friends, family, adults, and their teachers.
My co-worker was kanchoed by a little girl. She was the cutest in the class, and the obvious candidate for a kanchoer. They usually are the young, sweet students; and this is why it is easiest to let your guard down, but once you do, you easily become a kancho target. Still, this gives English teachers in Japan a reason to never, and I repeat never, to turn their backs on their students.
Surely not all Japanese are perverts, but a whole lot of them are. Still, Japan is a beautiful place to live and visit. Just be cautious, like you would be anywhere else in the world, and learn key Japanese phrases like sexual harassment in case it ever comes in handy.