Tuesday, June 09, 2009

New family members

A few weeks ago we had a pair of swallows come and check out our house. They checked every different eave we have and finally decided on the perfect place to build their nest.... right above our front door! In Japan swallows are supposed to bring you good luck and prosperity so most business people are very happy if a swallow makes its nest in their premises. Me... I'm happy that it gives me something extra to show visitors, but the mess they make while building their nest is more than a little annoying. It also means I can't leave the front door open for long - unless I want some uninvited visitors... has happened more than once already! It was actually really interesting watching them make the nest - quite a feat really. They basically just slowly collect mud and straw and stick it onto the wall - making their required shape. It took them a couple of weeks, but it seems like they have finished it now. My children are looking forward to them laying some eggs so we can watch the rest of their life cycle.
I had another wonderful class at kindergarten today. Actually it was fine till the very end when I picked up my heavy bag (you can never have enough props) in one hand and my CD player in the other hand and went to waddle out of the classroom. It was then that a 4 year old gave me a "kancho". Now for anyone living in Japan that has taught small children I am sure you know what I am talking about, but for those that don't know a "kancho" is literally an enema. Now don't worry - he didn't get his hands up that far! The act of small children giving people a "kancho" is now so common that I discovered that it is now described in some dictionaries as "prank where the anal region of another person is poked with index fingers". Now to me this behaviour is totally unacceptable, but here in Japan it is surprisingly common and I have even seen teachers at kindergartens encouraging it and most people will just laugh if they see a child doing it to someone else. Of course I told the little boy concerned that it was far from appropriate and may have lost him as a friend for life, but it is one thing that I really can't stand! I can put up with being hit, kicked and called an old witch, but I won't put up with being poked up the bum - especially when both my hands are full so I can't defend myself! I wonder sometimes if this is just a Japanese thing or if it is actually common in other countries and that it just us "kiwis" who find it offensive. I doubt it, but I would be interested in hearing opinions from people from other countries on this so when I lash out at the teachers next time I can quote from other perspectives too.
Hope you are all having a "non poking up the bottom" day.


  1. The dreaded kancho does not happen in America, at least in any of the locations I have lived it.

    I hope you gave that boy a good scolding.

  2. One of my students is hosting swallows this year and they're above her door too. He has a note on the door telling people to use the side door so as not to disturb them- all for luck!

    And kancho. Nope. Not in Australia either. Or boob grabbing either. I don't take it either. No matter how lenient their regular teachers are.

  3. I'm pretty sure the kancho is a purely Japanese thing. I've yet to figure out how this became acceptable!

  4. Oh Jo, I'm so sorry he did that to you!!!! @_@ If it helps to know, we do not do the kancho in America either! I find it completely unacceptable too. I think it's just a Japanese thing too. : (

    Very cool swallows nest! : ) Have a great week. : )

  5. Ohhh, the kancho... I don't miss it at all! Isn't it weird how people will just laugh at it!?
    I almost decked the kid who first did it to me!

  6. i also find it completely unacceptable. thankfully i have never been pranked this way and usually have the presence of mind to avoid it. i haven't taught in a classroom situation in a long time, though...

    i also do not put up with being hit or boob gropage, either. i try to make it out as a cultural difference and usually the regular teachers catch on and tell the kids not to do it to 'gaijin', but i don't know that i made a difference...(when i was an eikaiwa monkey i didn't horse around with the kids too much. also, classes were usually much smaller so no one could sneak up behind me.) i'm so sorry this happened to you. i'd be so angry!

    as for the swallows, are you putting out a box under the nest? once there are babies you could have a huge mess there on your front step!

  7. Have to admit i had a bit of a giggle reading this - more bcos of the humourous way you wrote about it and the mental image - but I actually cant believe that this is "normal" in Japan and they have an actual word for it! Meg and Nathan have some interesting times ahead! If that happened to a teacher in NZ i'm picking the kid would be in A LOT of trouble.

  8. Oh my, I hate it, too! I've caught W doing it to his friends a couple of times, grrrrrr. None of that back in the UK either. Beautiful nest, but you'll be totally peed off with it in a couple of weeks ;)

  9. Ohh I didn't know that about the swallows nest bring good luck!! We were at the local 7-11 the other day and noticed a big piece of card board on the ground covered in bird poop and a nest of swallows above it!!

    I love the babies I think they are sooo cute!

  10. So how do you find out about the kancho in the first place?!

    Are you given a briefing as part of an introduction to this and other interesting aspects of Japanese culture?!

  11. Margaret12:32 AM

    Wow, that is strange. And I am pretty sure it's just a Japanese thing.. ;)
    No such thing in Canada. Especially a student towards a teacher! Very interesting.

  12. Oh the kancho...ugh. I have never seen it in the US and I find it completely unacceptable myself. As others have commented, I also find boob grabbing and all of the other grabbing that goes on (some of my male friends who teach say that they also get grabbed in their *ahem* delicate parts by kids) mind-boggling. Why oh why is this considered normal?!?! Something I will never understand.

  13. Birgit6:35 PM

    Hey Jo,

    first time I heard/read about such a thing!!! I think it is absolutely unacceptable and I have never ever heard that it has happened here in France, nor in Germany! If this would happen to a french teacher the parents of the boy would have to come to the principal the next day.... !!!

  14. Anonymous9:43 PM

    Not tolerated at all, I never experienced Kancho but I had far too many booby experiences esp when I taught kinder but I can only speak for three, UK, not acceptable, no way whatsoever, France -- definitely not, and the US... you might be sent to the naughty chair.

    I second what Jo said, principals office.