Things I hate about Japan: Chikan (Perverts)

I hate Chikan.

It’s one of the things I can’t stand about Japan (it’s a very short list, I swear). For those of you who don’t know, Chikan are perverts. Or, more specifically:

Chikan (noun, Japanese): A person who commits continual public acts of molestation, such as groping on a crowded Japanese train.

Entire books have been written on perverts in Japan – the best and most extensive being: Chikan: Bizarre true accounts of train and street groping in Tokyo, Japan

For information on what to do if you are molested by a chikan on a train in Japan, click here. It goes though the emotional, physical, and legal steps you should take after a run-in with a chikan.

chikan pervert japan japanese ちかん beware of chikan sign playground

Why I don’t understand Chikan:

Well, first of all, I’m a woman. It’s second nature to hate perverts – especially the special Japanese brand of perverts who do things like crawl into and lie face up in gutters near all-women universities so they can peek up women’s skirts (it’s real, check it out). Japanese perverts are special. They are everywhere, giving women cause to worry on crowded trains and flock together in women-only trains during the early morning commutes.

And yet, for some reason, nothing is done.

Yes, signs are put up. They’ve run several campaigns – one of the most successful trying to promote a group mentality “together we can stop Chikans / perverts” (just like the “Only you can prevent Wildfires” campaign);

sexist sexim Anti harassment (chikan) poster on a Tokyo train

But time and time again, I see articles about children who catch perverts on the train (you know they are perverts, because they are caught in mid-grab). I hear of friends who get groped on a crowded train, but are too mortified to say or do anything.

[For more, check out: What to do if you are targeted by a Chikan (pervert) on a Japanese train]

Why I really don’t understand Chikan:

Japan is one of the safest countries I have ever lived in. I don’t feel scared walking home at night, and never worry about being robbed or worse. Doing things like leaving your wallet on the desk in the library or computer in the cafeteria while I go grab another bite to eat is fine.

One time my friend accidentally dropped her wallet when she was walking in downtown Tokyo. An hour later, when she realized her mistake, she ran back, retracing her steps. She found her wallet on a sidewalk with a note “you forgot this.” All of her money was still inside. That is safe.

So why is Japan so dangerous for women?

An interesting book written on Chikan, Upskirting, and other perverted acts towards women, Chikan: Bizarre true accounts of train and street groping in Tokyo, Japan

Written by Mico Keplar’s, this book goes into much more detail than I possibly could in this article.

How to Understand Silly Japanese Signs (Part 1)

Upskirting – the practice of sticking your phone camera under a woman’s skirt to take a picture of her panties. It happens a lot on escalators and trains.

Chikan make Japan no longer safe. They make women fear to wear short skirts, scared to ride in crowded subways, and nervous when placed in a situation when they are viewed as a sexual object.

According to a recent survey, between 50% and 70% of young Japanese women have experienced a Chikan attack on a Japanese train. Several of my friends have reported to being touched once or twice.

It doesn’t stop on trains.

I think I hit an all-time low when I saw this sign by a playground near my house. It says “Beware of Chikan/Perverts.” It was on a playground. A playground. Where little children go to play. Often alone.

chikan pervert japan japanese ちかん beware of chikan sign playground

This isn’t the first time I had seen a sign like that; it wasn’t the last. And each time it makes me feel sick to my stomach.

To put a sign there, someone must have decided that the children were in enough danger to warrant a sign. And that makes me sad.

I love a lot of things about Japan. I dislike quite a few other things. Chikan are one of the only things I can’t stand about Japan.

As long as Chikan exist in Japan, I will never feel truly safe.


If you’re interested in reading more on Chikan, I recommend Mico Keplar’s book, Chikan: Bizarre true accounts of train and street groping in Tokyo, Japan.

[Add me on Google Plus: +Grace Buchele]

About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

120 Comments on Things I hate about Japan: Chikan (Perverts)

  1. Hey, thanks for posting this. I was studying abroad in Nagoya a few years ago. I commuted from a neighboring prefecture to Nagoya Station. I rode in the first car every day for months. The first car was always the most crowded, but one of the first stops was the business district, Sakae. Usually, most people would exit from the car at that point, and I would get to sit down and enjoy the rest of the commute in peace.

    One day, I was waiting on the first car. There were two doors for entering the car and therefore two lines. I saw that one line was shorter than the one I was in, so I switched.The man behind followed. I honestly thought in the moment, “He must think this line is too long also.” We got into the crowded train car, and I don’t think I need to discuss the rest nor do I want to.

    He got off the train at Sakae because I’m assuming he could not longer get away with what he was doing, but he still watched me through the glass as I stared on, vacant and frozen.

    I see people commenting on this post that “women need to be more confident and aggressive.” I’m not lacking in confidence, but in that moment, I felt completely paralyzed by what was happening, and I’ve heard other people say that it’s hard to tell when people are touching you inappropriately. I commuted from the country into Nagoya. On my train from the country to Nagoya, I never sat down on that train. I rarely had anything to hold onto.I was used to the crowds. I knew the difference between someone accidentally brushing up against me and molestation. But, I still doubted what had happened. I still thought maybe it was the crowd. How could that have happened to me? I had been commuting for months at that point. I missed my stop for school. I rode the train all the way to the end, and when I got off, I call ed my friends, who were at school and wondering where I was. I just started bawling, feeling so lost. I didn’t have any doubt after that.

    I saw him later, but I only rode the women’s car after that.

  2. I alwayes wondered it this sterotype has anything to it :/
    Maybe you’ve already said something about this in an other comment but: what would happen if you hit the chikan?
    I’m a person that is very easyly starteld…this sometimes results in me hitting people if they touch me (my boyfriend got an ellbow to his face once and i KNEW he was behind me… ~.~)
    Would I get arrested? Or get in trouble? Oo
    And can I avoid Chikans somehow?

    Oh and I really like your Videos :D Ryosuke seems to be quit the goofball :D

    Cherres from germany :D

  3. Good lord, all these comments with butthurt people talking about “You’re overreacting!”.
    Please stop people.

    It’s a real problem. It happens in India too. Happened to me at a market once, and when I tried to run away to join my husband, they approached him and pushed him to the ground.
    We were both too shocked to react at the time, but we came together afterwards and decided that we have to be pretty loud and call them out in front of everyone.
    Indian society does a good job of dealing with its own ill-mannered young men.

  4. I do feel that saying Japan isn’t safe because of chikans is an overreaction because, honestly, there are plenty chikans right here in the US!

    As a little girl in a suburb area of California, men took out their xxx and flashed me in Macys, in McDonalds, and as I was signing up for summer classes. A babysitter showed it to me too. This all happened in 2nd grade or younger. Luckily, I never got raped or seriously molested, but I know plenty of girls (and some guys) who have. As a grown woman still in California, I’ve had a guy take photos up my skirt (knee length) in a crowded mall, hands on my butt, all sorts of things! I’ve been propositioned while wearing a big coat that covered my whole body, and little makeup. So…as far as I’m concerned it’s the same here, and I don’t even live in a “dangerous” area with a high crime rate.

    I’d personally rather be groped by a chikan than raped, mugged, attacked and seriously injured. Of course those things happen in Japan but I doubt it’s anywhere near as bad as here. The kidnappers in Japan are serious, yes, but it sounds like most of the chikan are just creepy butt gropers and peeping toms.

  5. I don’t know anything about japans government or political party, but do they not have self defense/right to bear arms? I’m also a Texan.

    • Keep in mind, since the beginning and after the defeat of Japan by the allies, firearms are banned. There is no such thing as the right to bear arms, it’s a U.S. right (though Constitutional scholars define the Second differently). Self defense? Well, Japan was the creator of karate, Judo, Aikido and so on. As for a woman defending herself? Google losing face.

  6. Grace, I caught the picture of the swings on the playground, and it got my attention. And, it may answer a question that I’ve had for about 12 years.

    My paternal Grandpa is from a small village on Shikoku. Some of our relatives still live there, but a few moved to Matsuyama (the major city on Shikoku), and most have moved to Tokyo.

    My Grandpa was said to be a pretty athletic guy when he was young. I heard that he and his friends played baseball at the local ballfields and school yards. Being sentimental, I walked around and at an elementary school, was a man in his 40s teaching a bunch of little boys some baseball skills. I was in my late 20s at the time. Just trying to “vicariously live in the areas where my Grandpa played baseball as a boy,” I was just watching them do some drills. Totally harmless and benign.

    Suddenly, the 40 year old man said something to me in Japanese in a very harsh tone. My Japanese isn’t anywhere near fluent, so I don’t know what he said, but the tone of his voice said “you’re not welcome to watch.” I was being totally silent. In fact, because I was “heavier,” I thought (as my Dad and I were told by our relatives in Tokyo) that this man could tell that I was Japanese-AMERICAN, not Native Japanese.

    For 12 years, I could not figure out why a harmless, frankly nerdy-looking Japanese-American guy (that being me) was so “unwelcome” to just watch kids play baseball.

    Grace, this clip MIGHT have answered it.

    Your thoughts? Anybody else have any thoughts?

    Rich K.

  7. Maybe because you’re a woman? Sexism in Japan is just the same as sexism in the U.S. It’s sexism and it sucks. Try this next time. While in the train, put a mouse trap in your back. When someone starts groping you…*SNAP* Or better yet, one thing Japan hates is confrontation. If you feel someone’s hands on you and it isn’t Ryosuke, turn around and start yelling at the guy.

    Stranger: Grab Grab
    Stranger… (so sorry so sorry)

    I had a friend who went to Japan with his wife. I guess some Japanese boys knew he was an American as they were waiting for their train. So the boys were saying all these derogatory words and my friend wanted to kill them…he’s a cop BTW for the LAPD. His wife had to calm him down and he was enraged.

    Well, four of the five boys got on the train and one of them had to go on the same train as my friend and his wife. The boy had his head down and my friend said, “Oh no longer a tough mother “F”er, eh? Come one, kick my “A”. My friend’s wife had to cool him off and the boy was humiliated. If that isn’t your cup of tea because you have too much class, why not then:

    Stranger: “Grab Grab”
    Grace: Uh excuse me, I don’t appreciate being molested by you. I don’t know who you are and you have the gall to sexually batter me and thought I would not speak up? Contrary to popular belief and with the empowerment of the ERA, I speak up. I am not ashamed by my individualism and am a proud woman. More women in Japan should have the same initiative as me, so people like you, the proverbial “scum-of-the-earth” would not have to suffer from your cultural degradation from degenerates like you. Do me a favor and leave me alone or I will humiliate your existence on this train
    Stranger: sorry sorry.

    In Japan, it’s a game. Throw the ball back into their court

    • “Maybe because you’re a woman?” Assuming you want equallity, by that logic it would be sexist for women to complain about being groped.
      Put a man in the same senario.

  8. Typical attitute of an American citizen living abroad.

    • so she’s supposed to enjoy japanese perverts? she’s making an honest observation. you’re the one that sounds ignorant. you have the typical attitude of an anti-american.

      • It’s not only andi-american, it’s anti almost every Country. Because, who in the world would not feel weird and unsafe in a place where they never know if they will be groped? seriously, why does someone even call this an attitude? It’s freaking normal… not understanding this is an attitude of dumb.
        I am from Europe and I think about that in the exact same way she does. So, it is basically not the typical attitude of an american citizen. -.-‘

    • Typical response of a pathetic troll.

  9. Grace, I’m sure you understand the Japanese culture, I know your hubby knows this, but many westerners do not. I grew up in the U.S. born and raised specifically in Los Angeles. When the first Japanese immigrated to the U.S. in the mid 19th century, the issei, they came here after the fall of Japan to seek a better life or even improve the one in Japan. Being Japanese, they knew that they were going to a foreign land and the authority they had in Japan was gone. So they went to the west coast with this basic philosophy: shikata ga nai. Even enryo.

    Fast forward this to December 7, 1941. That’s why 120,000 Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans were placed into concentration camps during WWII. Now fast forward to today. A culture and Identity that stems from Japan cannot change (Again Grace you know this already). Shikata ga nai is in the Japanese lexicon.

    //Japan isn’t actually that safe, it’s just that most of the crimes committed are not reported or not illegal//

    Rape is NOT legal in Japan:

    But it’s worse to lose face when a woman is in court. So what can she do? Gaman. I know it’s bull, but this is Japan. You know, since Fukushima, rape has gone up: Again the sad thing is? Even if it’s reported, the victims are not taken seriously. So yes, crime is down, but only because no one is reporting the crime. Those who do, well probably end up looking straight into a glass filled with ice and whiskey or splattered all over the sidewalk.

    So the chikan problem? Start yelling and screaming. Yell swear words in English. The last thing a guy wants is to be outed and when a foreign language is spoken, Japanese men tend to shy away.

  10. Japan isn’t actually that safe, it’s just that most of the crimes committed are not reported or not illegal. And if you don’t consider sexual assault, kidnapping, and harassment to be unsafe, well then of course you’d say you live in a safe country. Japan isn’t a safe country, it’s just has a higher percentage of different crimes. It might seem confusing why there is such a Massive amount of sexual assault and harassment when Japan “seems” so safe, but it makes perfect sense, they just focus on different crimes because they have a different culture and mindset. In fact, that’s part of the problem. Sexual assault is so prevalent because everyone thinks Japan is safe and perfect. The Japanese people see the attacks as acceptable and normal, and the rest of the world sees Japan as safe and doesn’t even know what actually goes on there.

    Chikan keeps happening because it’s not only seen as acceptable, it’s glorified. Nearly all Japanese media glorifies bullying, harassment, sexual assault, and being an evil asshole. There are countless shows and stories that say that victims of sexual assault are just overreacting, sexual assault is “funny”, it’s easy to get away with sexual assault and harassment, if you are sexually assaulted or humiliated then you should be ashamed and if anyone finds out you’ll be an outcast and no one will want to be with you. Japanese culture tells victims to be quiet and not make a scene. People believe what they are taught, that’s how it’s always been. Media and culture teaches Japanese people that sexual assault and harassment is fine and cool, so of course the people act on those ideals.

    There needs to be Much more talk about how Evil sexual harassment. This issue has to be much, much more recognized. We need to spread the word and tell people about this evil. We need to tell people that it’s Wrong to humiliate and assault other people. Media promoting sexual assault and abuse needs to Stop. Victim blaming and glorifying abuse needs to end. That is the only way to make this rampant sexual assault end.

  11. Sohib Sanam // 18 September, 2014 at 3:27 am //

    that is something new for me about japan.. membuat blog

  12. Time to adopt Lady GaGa fashion and start wearing spikey-studded trousers/undies/pants/skirts/whatever-that-works… And if someone tries to rub against you or pat you on the bottom, just “spike ’em” :D Similar tactics work at a rock concert that is too crowded and people are pushing you too much without remorse (only the spikes usually rest on your wrists).

  13. PersonOne // 21 August, 2014 at 6:50 am //

    Obviously, I am generalising this, and I want a general answer (opinion), but do you feel somewhat stigmatised? Because most people’s accounts of Japan (as gaijin) give off this feeling. (Though I do not doubt that Japan has plenty of wonderful, welcoming people to make up for these shortfalls.)

    • I think a lot of people (especially white people from predominantly white areas) don’t know what it’s like to be a minority. I have lived in Texas, Philadelphia, Ghana, and Japan. Regardless of the country, it is a different experience being a minority.

      I think a lot of people who transition from being a majority to a minority have difficulties adapting. And Japan isn’t necessarily a country famous for welcoming minorities… so…

  14. PersonOne // 21 August, 2014 at 6:45 am //

    Grace, I’ve recently read some of your posts and watched a couple of your videos. I don’t like to generalize too much, but, after the reading I’ve done, it seems like there’s an air of discrimination against foreigners in Japan–especially those that have light skin and don’t appear to be completely Japanese (I’m not stating this so eloquently, I know). You often just refer to yourself as a white person or a foreigner, so my question is: Do you feel that, aside from any friends you’ve made or kind strangers you’ve met, that you constantly feel the difference between you and “them”? It sounds like there’s some sort of tension there, generally.

    • In short… yes. But because I’m white, rather than black, or Asian (non-Japanese) – I get the “best” treatment among foreigners. I know it can be MUCH more difficult to be non-white and foreign in Japan.
      Since I was raised with different cultural values, of course I feel a difference between “them” and “me.” However, because I’ve also travelled pretty extensively over the globe, I sometimes feel a bit out of place in America. So it really doesn’t bother me too much.
      And, of course, having my husband there to support me makes all the difference in the world.

  15. hi,
    I just came back from Japan four days ago, it was my first trip and i was chikan-ed. Problem was I was TOLD by my sister’s boyfriend who is Japanese about it. My sister and I just laughed and thought he must be overly worried.

    It happened when i was lining at immigration about to enter Japan.. the officer guy started patting my bottom and when i turned around, he said to me “you need to line over there”. I was quite shocked but i dismissed it because i was in such a rush.

    Few days later in the train, an old guy rubbed himself on my behind as he got off the train. It was disgusting. It just makes me angry thinking about it. I saw his face when he walked out of the train. He kept looking at his phone like he didn’t do anything wrong.

    • Oh my gosh. That is so horrible. I am SO sorry to hear that happened… that’s really nasty that the old guy was rubbing off behind you. Ugh.

      I’ve only been chikan-ed once in Tokyo (during the World cup celebrations). The guy grabbed my butt and ran off. I made eye contact with him (after elbowing him in the stomach) and he was SMILING. Ugh. It makes me so angry. Bleck.

  16. Are chikan very common on the trains in Tokyo? My cousin warned me about them and I’ve read some articles, but I don’t think I’ve heard of incidents from friends who have been. I’m a bit worried since I’m studying abroad for the next school year.

    In other, less related news, I just discovered your blog and it’s such an interesting read (and cute)! I definitely feel like some of the articles you write are helpful.

    • Thanks! I’m glad you found my blog helpful.

      In answer to your previous question… yes and no. It depends. I’ve been chikan-ed ONCE in my two years in Tokyo, and that was in a crowded place in Shibuya during the World Cup, not on a train. I do know several women who have been chikan-ed. It really depends on whether you’re at the wrong place at the wrong time, I guess.

  17. I have many female friends here in Japan who’ve been groped, but I must add, it’s not limited to men–>women, and (as others have said), not limited to Japan.

    I’ve had a man standing in front of me on the train rubbing himself, and seen the same thing in restrooms here many times. (I’m a white male living in Japan, and like you, a writer with a Texas background, by the way.) I’ve also had a woman rubbing herself against me on a crowded train. A friend of mine had another woman reach around and fondle him on the train.

    I also had that happen to me at a punk-rock concert in Texas as well, when a girl came up behind me at a show and started, you know, rubbing my package. Another time, while playing pool, a woman came up to me, grabbed me by the belt loops and pushed me against a wall, insisting I kiss her. That was in Austin. What is it with you Texas women anyway?

    So apparently this isn’t just something that men in Japan do. It’s a crazy world out there.

    • Wow, I’m really sorry to hear that happened to you. That’s nasty and unfair.
      (Are Texas women really like this? Wow)

      I’ve met two Japanese men who were groped by older men when they were a young boy. So I knew it happened man -> boy. And I guess it probably does happen woman -> man.

      Let’s just all stop groping each other and that would be wonderful.

  18. I think I had more problems in the U.S. with perverts trying to touch or bother me then in Japan, the most I had was a grandpa lightly used his pointer finger and poked me on the butt lightly at a store once. I had alot of creepy men say creepy things to me in the U.S. and other stuff that happened in the U.S. such as a guy tried to grab onto my leg and grope me on a public bus I quickly got up as he was turning around trying to grab on, and even seen a creep put his arm around my friend on the public bus and she had to get up and move. I don’t feel very safe riding public transportation in the U.S. I think perverts exist in all countries and it doesn’t mean going to another country other than Japan is more safe from perverted men.

    Try walking alone at night in the U.S. not very safe at all. My family lives in a small rural area in the U.S. and last year there were two kidnappings just at the corner of a road a 2minute walk from my family’s house! I know of a murder of a young lady that was walking alone in my family’s county. I know of many people who have been molested by their relatives in the U.S., it seems quite common, and I know of an old man who tried to lure children close to my hometown into his car with candy. I am not saying Japan does not have an old man pervert problem, it does and old Japanese pervert men make me mad, but I am just saying it happens just as much in other countries but most people like to talk about Japan’s pervert problem.

    • I’m with you. There are “perverted” people in every country. Depending on the culture, they have different ways of “showing themselves” – and each way can be bad in its own, well, way.

  19. This is a fair article. Sad but true, I dislike it too. I can’t believe such a fun society has to put up posters especially in children’s areas. D: I’ve had a run in with one too. Yuck.

    • Sorry to hear you’ve had a run-in with them.
      There’s a bunch of these posters near the playground next to my husband’s childhood home. He doesn’t think it’s weird – and I can’t quite explain why it freaks me out.

  20. Anonymous // 16 June, 2014 at 5:39 am //

    I was felt up by 2 different Chikans in broad daylight on the streets of Tokyo back in 1992! It happens – I just came from the subway onto the street level. I was so stunned that I could not even scream because this NEVER happened to me before in any other country I’ve been traveling to! I was wearing a jeans jacket and well covered, but they grabbed my breast pockets and said something to me while doing it, and then took off. They should warn all visitors that this sort of thing happens a lot. For this reason, I would never go back to Japan again.

    • I actually got groped by a chikan for the first time yesterday. Living in Tokyo for nearly 2 years, I couldn’t BELIEVE it hadn’t happened to me yet (because every other girl I know has a couple chikan stories).

      It was after the world cup, I was crossing in Shibuya and guy came up behind me, squeezed my butt with both hands, and ran off. It was really disgusting. I was so angry. Ugh.
      I saw on twitter a bunch of other Japanese girls got groped by chikan – they seemed to be running around Shibuya after the World Cup match. Ugh.

  21. Anonymous // 15 June, 2014 at 7:48 pm //

    This is just feminist exaggeration, what is the big deal really, no harm is done by Chikans. Americans make a big fuss about everything.

    • No, it is not an exaggeration. What these chikans do is called sexual harassment; it makes women feel disgusted and violated. Perhaps you’d like to have unwanted groping for the rest of your life and you will know how demeaning and helpless you’ll feel. It’s simple mind-set these chikans need to have which is to respect others. You must be pretty stupid if you don’t understand that.

    • They don’t make a big fuss, they speak out their minds and fight back, unlike yourself, you spineless twit.

    • Another pathetic troll.

  22. The problem with Kumon Math & Reading is that sex scandals have been perpetrated by the Kumon family themselves. So who can blame many of the franchisees for sex crimes?

    When my sister first opened a Kumon center in Atlanta the son of the founder of the Kumon Math & Reading company was involved in a major sex scandal with a franchisee Debra Tajiri, who owned two Kumon Math & Reading centers in Manoa and Kailua. She later claimed that Hiroshi Kumon had ruined her life after they had an affair and began asking him for money over a 21-month period beginning in March 2002. An employee of Debra Tajiri, the Kumon franchisee, later allegedly extorted $150,000 from a son of the founder of the Kumon learning method in exchange for 2,000 “compromising” photos. Debra Tajiri and one Sean Yonehiro, whom she hired to work in her centers as an assistant, were later arrested and faced a charge of sending international extortion communications which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Both were arrested after Yonehiro met with an FBI agent posing as Kumon’s attorney at Ala Moana Park and took from him a bag containing what he believed to be $150,000. At the time of the affair, Hiroshi Kumon was Director of Kumon Institute of Education in Japan, the parent company of Kumon North America, one of five regional headquarters worldwide responsible for operations in Canada, the United States and Mexico.

    An individual who went by the name “Max Lee” and who had been e-mailing Hiroshi Kumon while he was in Japan threatening to release compromising photos of Hiroshi Kumon if he didn’t pay for them. The complaint does not describe the photos but does say that Lee threatened to release the photos if Kumon also did not send more pornographic pictures of himself. More than five years after their affair, Debra Tajiri (the Kumon franchisee) allegedly began e-mailing Hiroshi Kumon asking for $500,000 to remodel her house, the complaint said. In those e-mails, she allegedly told Kumon that “you have taken a lifestyle from me,” and that she was considering filing a lawsuit. She also accused him of infecting her with a venereal disease and said that he should pay for her medical treatment. Kumon allegedly paid her more than $350,000. Later Debra Tajiri, the Kumon franchisee, allegedly continued asking Kumon for money, saying electricity at her home was shut off and that she could not pay contractors to finish work on her home. Debra Tajiri, the Kumon franchisee, e-mailed Hiroshi Kumon again, saying she needed $550,000 to secure a building contract. When he didn’t respond, she e-mailed him saying her life was “hell” and was over, and asking him why he had not sent money. Investigators learned that the e-mails sent by “Max Lee” came from an account belonging to Debra Tajiri and from her Nipo Street home.

    One of three vehicles spotted at Kumon franchisee Debra Tajiri’s residence was a white Ford pickup truck that was later seen at the Hawaii State Library — the first meeting Lee allegedly requested for Kumon’s representative to bring the money. A man was seen walking around the library on that day before leaving in the white truck registered to Yonehiro, who lists a Nipo Street address as his residence.

  23. Just kick them in the balls

    • Someone mentioned in the comments before if you do physically assault a chikan (and you’re a foreigner/you can’t speak Japanese well enough to explain what happened), you can get arrested/taken to a police station for violently assaulting a train passenger.

  24. JAPAN-FAN // 1 June, 2014 at 1:44 am //

    Chikans are gross, but it’s an overreaction to say you can never feel safe in Japan because of it. Very few places in the world exist where you can drop your wallet in mid down-town and find it untouched.

    • People trade one form of personal security (possession-wise) for another (physical safety from molestation). This isn’t too much of a problem for most adult men, but I know several Japanese men my age who still have serious issues after being Chikan-ed a lot when they were little boys – and women who feel unsafe and have anxiety issues at the thought of taking a crowded train at night.

  25. I wish I could find the article, but I read an extensive one recently that talked about how the crime rate in Japan is artificially low because of the low report of sexual assault, rape, and domestic abuse. Even if you go to the police station, they might not file your report, but just give you the run around.

    When I was a highschooler in Japan on exchange, a man attempted to kidnap me via car on a isolated road as I was bicycling home (it was a well used short cut along the river). I was able to get away and my coach took me to the police. Even though I was groped and the man tried to put me in his car, they told me they had nothing on him because I didn’t actually see his penis when he tried to expose himself to me. Looking back, I don’t think they filed any report, but just filled out paperwork in front of me and took down his description so that I wouldn’t contact the embassy or something. I hear they often don’t file the reports to artificially lower the crime rate in their district and because they don’t take sexual assault seriously.

    When I got home, my host mother’s response was that my uniform skirt looked too short on my long legs, and I was cute so it’s not a surprise that this would happen…

    On a lighter note, I noticed on police TV lately they have chikan sting operations on trains, and so there must be a police enforced anti-chikan movement going on. This gives me hope things will improve.

    • Ugggghhhh, I can’t believe that happened. I’m so sorry to hear that. And I can’t believe your host mom tried to justify it…

      But yes, I’ve heard similar things. I did my graduation thesis on legal (and illegal) sex services in Japan (I wanted to see how risque I could make it until my advisor got uncomfortable). On a document released by the US embassy in Japan, they recommended always bringing a Japanese friend if you go to report a molestation/rape at a Japanese police station – and then DEMAND to speak to a female police officer. Male police officers have been known to partake in victim blaming (your skirt was too short), dismissal (so he didn’t ACTUALLY put his penis in you), and poor justification (so you were drinking and were “raped” – how do we KNOW it is “rape” – not that you just thought it was bad sex / you SAY he forced you with a knife, but if he really did, you would have knife marks on you, and you don’t).
      Also, demand a rape kit and don’t let them take your clothes away for a new pair (and don’t go to the bathroom, it destroys evidence). A lot of the time, they will ask the victim to shower and change clothes to make them more comfortable – not even realizing they just destroyed nearly all the evidence. Ugh. I have so many thoughts about this.

  26. this has to be a joke. If someone is being assaulted or anything like that in a PUBLIC TRAIN?! No..this is just…what the hell?! Okay I understand that OBVIOUSLY other countries have this sort of problem, but this?! over 10 people in a damn public train who do nothing while a person right in front of them gets molested?! (or something like that).

  27. In my opinion all these issues stem from serious mental health problems in Japanse society. While you communicate or somehow deal with them you start understanding that they are quite inadeqate. Therefore, no wonder

    • I don’t know much about mental health in Japan, but I have noticed that “depression” and “mental illnesses” are really taught or acknowledged as much here. Early on in my husband and I’s dating life, I was going through a bout of depression/anxiety (something I’ve been struggling with my whole life) and had trouble explaining exactly what that meant AND that it was a “real” thing. I wonder if that’s cultural?

  28. Dear Grace, that is not the whole story about perverts in Japan, there is actually much more. It seems that pervertness constitutes cultural stem of the country

  29. Hello! I was reading this article as I’m about to go to Japan this weekend, it is not my first visit there. I was born in England but I am actually Chinese. I often get confused to be Japanese in Japan, understandably, so I found I can see things from both a ‘foreigner’ perspective and a ‘Japanese’ perspective at the same time when I am there.

    Anyway, I thought your article was spot-on in describing chikan. The chikan issue in Japan isn’t over-dramatized, and I guess people that haven’t experienced it personally are more likely to brush it off as a generalization. It really is a very insidious problem and I definitely didn’t encounter any harassment like that in any other parts of Asia I visited.

    When I last stayed in Japan it was for a period of 9 weeks. I noticed men would be taking photos of me on the train without my permission, sometimes groping me even as I walked past them on the street. I noticed a few incidents where someone takes an upskirt picture of someone in front of me on some stairs. In my weirdest scenario an otaku looking guy approached me on the street in Ikebukuro and asked if he could have a picture with me, I thought it was a little weird but obliged…he then asked if I could kiss his cheek in a photo, I obliged with a hover-kiss near his cheek thinking that would be all he wanted, but then he leaned in and full on kissed me on the mouth and asked me to go to a hotel with him(!). He told me he was in love with me and that I reminded him of a character he liked from a manga. I was kinda shaken and refused and left and he did not pursue me. But I think that encounter was uniquely Japanese and I can’t imagine that same encounter happening in a different country. I feel like it sounds like I made it up when I try to explain what happened to other people not from Japan because it sounds so ludicrous.

    I think you’re correct in saying violent crime and theft is very low there, I feel safe walking around at night and leaving my bag on the back of my chair in a cafe (that bag would vanish in a minute on a busy day in central London). The more socially awkward men in Japan generally seem content at being quietly lewd than physically raping strangers on the street. I’ve never been physically attacked, only groped, a lot…

    Anyway it was interesting to hear it from a different perspective. I hope my experiences were interesting to you too!

    • Oh wow, thank you for sharing your experience with Chikan in Japan. I will definitely remember that. I haven’t had any run-ins with Chikan THAT extreme (kind of ever). But wow. That’s so crazy.

      I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been groped so often in Japan. That’s really sad. And frustrating to hear…

  30. I had a friend who was groped by her Kumon tutor. I just learn that Kumon is Japanese company from Japan. Her bad experience at Kumon seems to be true from your article. Probably Kumon should be renamed Kumon Molestation and Rape centers.

    • Ugh, that man worked as a Kumon teacher for 25 years? I’m glad your friend was able to speak out (and save countless other small children from dealing with that kind of thing). Good for her.
      Back when I was in college, I applied for a job teaching math at a Kumon center and was turned down. Now I don’t feel too bad about it, I guess.

  31. I’m not saying that you are lying, but if this is such a huge problem why is Japan known for its low crime and pregnancy rate? Also with the whole sex slaves and prostitution, how is this still the case?

    Also though not as prevalent this happens every where else and more importantly in the States. You can find videos on youtube of people who posted videos of them recording women’s butts and underwear.

    I believe things like this would happen in other countries if it were normalized like it is in Japan. Also maybe the reality that people aren’t literally pushed and squeezed into trains (making them extremely crowded) like they are in countries like Japan.

    Also all the over sexualizing of women, men, children in anime, tv shows, movies, manga etc. Over time all of this is becoming more and more normalized.

    • Honestly, I have no idea why Japan has such a low crime rate – but it makes me feel genrally safe. The crime, though, is a bit different. Instead of worrying about your child being kidnapped/raped/killed (in America), Japanese mothers have to worry about naked men in trench-coats flashing their children while they walk to school (it happened twice in my neighborhood in Tokyo).
      Similar with the Japanese birth rate. While I do know several women who got pregnant (accidentally) they either married the man right away with a shotgun wedding (typically if they were out of college) or got an abortion without telling the boyfriend.

      I’ve done pretty extensive research on hostesses in Tokyo – the whole “sex ring” is very different than people expect. While women are occasionally cooersed into the trade, for the most part, actual “prostitutes” do not live in Japan. Groups will organize sex cruises (load men up on a boat with attractive, young women walking around to give them sex 24/7) or sex tours (tour of a foreign country like Thailand where each night is accompanied by a fancy hotel with many young boys and girls to fulfill the customer’s every wish). That kind of stuff is RARELY seen in Tokyo. It also RARELY happens to full Japanese women (typically foreigners are the ones exploited).

      So the whole thing is very complicated. I hope that answers some of your questions.

  32. So… just something related to bring to the table. My father is Japanese and my mother is Russian. I also have a Japanese husband. I live in Tokyo, and people are always shocked to find out that I am Japanese and speak Japanese, since I look white. My female Japanese friend (who herself has been the victim of groping) once told me that she feels noticeably-foreign women in Japan (white women, black women, ETC.) will not be subjected to the same potentially-perverted treatment at the hands of Japanese men. Having lived here for so long, and being able to witness on a daily basis the differences in the demeanor of Japanese men when they talk to me in comparison to when they talk to a Japanese woman, I think I can maybe see what she was getting at. Many men seem almost intimidated to talk to me. (Women at times do to, but it’s nothing in comparison.) I don’t understand it… I don’t think I’m very scary, and it doesn’t seem to be a problem for men in other countries to talk to me. Anyway, I wonder if there is truth to what my friend thinks.

    Also, my husband tells me never to accept food from people on the street. And of course, I wouldn’t anyway, but he has this idea that if I do, I’ll be drugged and wake up in a prostitution ring in Thailand. When we first met, I thought it was a dark joke, but he’s serious. He swears it happens.

    • Huh. Interesting. While I have noticed that most Japanese men are too intimidated to talk to me (I mean, you’ve seen my picture, I’m pretty foreign), in the one year I lived in Tokyo, I had three occasions where a man walked up to me (while I was alone) and propositioned sex. For money. All three were married. It was awkward.

      All of my husband’s friends think I’m terrifying, though. That might be because I talk a lot and yell a lot. It’s frustrating, though, because before our wedding, a couple asked him if he was “sure he wanted to marry Grace.” That makes me sad.

      As for the drug ring thing, I haven’t heard that one before. I spent fifteen months in Tokyo studying human trafficking and hostesses in Tokyo. Most came from other countries willingly (or semi-willingly). I hadn’t heard a case of a Japanese/foreign woman being kidnapped IN Japan and shipped to other countries… but I guess I could believe that.

  33. To say that it’s not a uniquely Japanese problem is actually quite ignorant. I would venture a guess that anyone who has said that has either not traveled to Japan or his only stayed a very short time. I have traveled all over the world by myself and while I have experienced a few frightening things in other countries even in Third World countries by myself I have not felt as sexually violated as I did in Japan. It was almost a daily occurrence for me and I’m not alone. It’s not only the fact that, “Oh yeah there are some perverts there but there are perverts everywhere,” it’s that there are soooooooooooooooo many of them and it’s the fact that their mentality is so group oriented that even though it’s an epic problem nobody seems to give a shit. In fact the Japanese cultural attachment to “harmony” is so strong that if you are being molested on a train and you scream and kick the guy’s ass YOU are the one that everyone looks down on because you made noise and disrupted the harmony. The halfasses campaigns have done little more than remind women that we have just cause to be scared. That’s fucked up and it’s fucked up in a uniquely Japanese way.

    • See, I have to disagree. I also spent a great deal of time in Africa and dealt with inappropriate touching and molestation in public places. The way Japanese perverts operate is different from how perverts operate in other countries – but I think it is a tad bit racist to say that it is a uniquely Japanese problem.

      I spent a year living in Sapporo, three months in Osaka, and 15 months in Tokyo. My husband is Japanese. I really have spent a great deal of time in the country and a great deal of thought on this matter.
      I really am sorry you’ve felt so violated in Japan – but as I mentioned in another post (how to respond to a Japanese pervert/get them arrested in a cultural acceptable way:, everyone responds to molestation and perverts differently. You’ve probably had a much more violating (and probably worse) experience than I have or any of my other foreign friends have had… and while it is true many Japanese people do not want to disrupt the “harmony,” I know so many men and women who have spoken out when they have seen someone being molested, attacked, or disrespected in public.

      • oh oops now I see your comment after I replied which sounded alot like what I said in my reply! so sorry, I didn’t mean to sound so annoyed or something XD because now I see you said other countries also have these sort of problems too.

  34. One thing I would like to point out is that these people exist everywhere. I’ve lived all over the United States, Canada, Morocco, and Thailand. I’ve been to Korea and France. And you know what? I’ve run into perverts and molesters, even people who have outright offered to purchase me, everywhere. I don’t discount the fact that you’ll run into perverts in Japan – there are far too many stories about them to ignore it – but what I have a problem with is wording it in such a way that suggests Japan is a black hole of fear for women:

    That’s just not true. YES, they have plenty of perverts and filmers of upskirt videos – but this is something that women face all over the world, and saying “I hate this about Japan” is kinda pointless when it’s not a Japanese problem, it’s a male problem.

    • Oh, I completely agree. There are perverts everywhere – it is not at ALL a problem unique to Japan.

      I would also take ANYTHING that JT Tran writes with a grain of salt. I’ve read a couple of his articles (and seen him around the AMWF community) and he is always very(in my opinion TOO) critical of Japanese men (labeling them as awkward perverts).I don’t think he has his finger on the pulse of exactly what women think about Asian men and what “problems” Asian men have.

      This article was written after my friend was telling me about a bad run-in she had with a Chikan when she was in middle school. I couldn’t find adequate information about Chikan on the internet, so I thought I ought to make my own.

  35. Warnings on children’s play equipment?!? People need to start getting angry.

    • That was kind of my reaction too…

    • Kojima, please read my new post, about how I might (might) have learned something about this, when it comes to children and playgrounds in Japan. It’s a concept that I didn’t even consider.

  36. This is why I was serious on protecting my mother as I was in Japan for a trip! I was in Osaka btw!

  37. Thanks for your article. It is very informative. I am leaving to Tokyo next week.

  38. My theory: Social norms make is such that most women would rather remain silent and take it and most witnesses would rather not make a scene and stop it, as such open perversion has grown to such levels because they can generally get away with it, even get off on the powerlessness of everyone around him to stop him. This does not seem common in countries where women feel they have a social right to openly harass, drop-kick, mace and even shoot someone that has been groping them and where witnesses feel it is their social obligation to help her curbstomp the pervert. Pornography and wearing skimpy cloths probably has much less to do with it then social norm on confrontational behavior.

  39. Zhou Che An // 30 December, 2013 at 9:51 pm //

    Their butt need to be kick that hard. I just don’t get it. While I considered me my self as a pervy fellow but those chikan things or make a woman do something against their will is something that I will fighting against since all of my siblings are sisters. I’m the youngest and the only male of my family. If I had spotted that action I will not hesitate at all to come the the woman aid even if I must risk my own neck to do so. We all are born from a woman womb therefore we must uphold the women honor regardless their age, size, jobs or race. Even to a perfect stranger as well. I considered my self pervy since I love to see a sexy woman taking her picture but I also believe my family rules and code of honor that all man must treated woman with love, honor, respect, affectionate and gallantry.

  40. I found this blog only recently and am enjoying it so far.

    My first kneejerk reaction to this topic:
    “Dude, this isn’t healthy. These dudes need more constructive outlets for sexual frustration.”

    Being an Asian American guy myself, the polite and formal mores and the dramatically creepy theatrics of the Chikan just look like puzzle pieces that fit together neatly. The flip sides of the same coin, as it were. It’s basically a form of sexual adventurism, just not a socially acceptable one.

    Ample pornography to my mind, isn’t the problem. We have plenty of that available on the internet anyway.

    And I can draw parallels to alcohol. If you don’t treat it like an unspeakable taboo people are less likely to be graceless idiots about it. And I think you’ve seen enough binge-drinking college freshman to know what I mean. It’s easy to build up a mystique of machismo and adulthood around these things.

    All of this, is of course, a bit of silly pop psychology. So take it for what it’s worth.

  41. My Japanese wife used to get a lot of that unwanted Chikan attention when we lived in Japan. She always seemed to laff it off (except for the time the police came to her office and asked her to identify panties that a local chikan had been stealing off neighborhood clothes lines) Maybe that is just Japanese women. On the flip-side, I have a male Japanese friend who was accused of that sort of thing on a train once but was completely innocent so just because a Japanese woman claims to have experienced this sort of thing it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a misunderstanding or an outright lie.

  42. So what train do you ride? lol :)

  43. Danial Quek // 11 December, 2013 at 1:18 pm //

    Lie face up in the gutters? Really? Whats wrong with these people..

    Oh and its funny how the ‘beware chikan’ sign shows a person that is black is an evil person. I guess we are all conditioned to believe dark colours are bad.

    • Yeah, I was wondering if someone was going to point that out. I tried to think that it was because they needed a “solid” color to show it could be anyone (and villains in Japanese cartoons such as Detective Conan are often shown as bald, blank, black filled androgynous characters) – but it also probably has to do with conditioning…

  44. Anonymous // 3 December, 2013 at 5:55 pm //

    “dangerous for women”, “no longer safe” – Hur? By using words like that you’re not helping anything, all you’re doing is rallying the villagers up against the werewolves. In other words, you’re one of the voices that is starting a witch hunt on men.

    “one in every four women will be raped in her life.” – You don’t know a lot about that 1 in 4 study, do you? It’s a feminist “study” done by Gloria Steinem at some time in the 1970s. The study was so bullshit it’s unbelievable; having different questions for men and women, non-randomly picked people, etc. But if that isn’t enough for you, how about the fact that in her study, her incredible bias study 73 percent of the young women counted as rape victims didn’t consider that they’ve been raped! 43 percent of them were dating their “attacker” again!
    Another frequently cited nongovernment rape study in 1990, the National Women’s Study, concluded that “in America, 1 out of every 8 adult women, or at least 12.1 million American women, has been the victim of forcible rape sometime in her lifetime”. That study was fairly straight forward, however the problem with that study is not only their definition pretty much excluded women from being perpetrators of rape, it also included “putting fingers or objects in your vagina or anus against your will by using force” as rape. In other words it also counted sexual assault and “miscommunication” during a petting session as rape. So yeah, Feminist rape statistics does not align with real world experience.

    “I know far too many friends who were date raped their freshman and sophomore years” – Hum, interesting, and many of those “date rapes” were actual rapes?

    “Men need to correct their behaviour” – Yeah, and that’s not sexist at all.

    • Dude, I’m a rape counselor. Don’t even get me started.
      Walk away.

      • Uh oh, she’s a rape counselor. Better not disagree with her.

      • Grace, honestly, people like the asshat above are nasty trolls. You can try to educate them but it is a waste of time. They are uneducated and unable to empathise. They are concerned only with drawing attention to themselves and evoking a negative reaction. They are not worth your time or energy. Pathetic.

    • Anonymous // 6 May, 2014 at 2:23 am //

      You’re a fool.

  45. Chikan in Japan sound horrible… Do other countries in Asia have similar problems?

    • I actually have no idea. I would imagine so (but not to such an extent). I kind of assume every country has problems with perverts – but Japan rears its head with Chikan

      • Do you think it has something to do with social media that influences certian men to behave like this?

        • I can’t think of any instances in social media that has encouraged men to take advantage of women… but then again I haven’t exactly been looking.
          That might be true?

          • Go to google and type in India Rape or Delhi Rape. Several incidents this year.

          • social media indeed contributes to this “perv” behavior of men not only in Japan “but maybe worse there” but all over the world in my observation. I am a guy who who have been sensitive about this matter I was a youngster. I always liked and still like girls and and it enrages me to learn how women are treated in this world. Here in the Philippines where I live, girls specially minors are not only being raped but murdered. I think most are victims of drug addicts. From what I see social media and even cartoons, (hentai is the term popular here in our country) is a huge factor in this problem. The wide-spread influence of pornography in Japan and the extremity of it I think plays a huge role in this and it always bothers me. I’m a fanatic of Anime or Japanese cartoons, and though I enjoy being a fan I can’t help but notice that even cartoons are polluted with traces of porn in Japan. I’m convinced that the wrong portrayal of the role of women in the society obviously plays a part in this matter.

    • Yes, there’s a lot of groping in India as well, but more furtive. The same as in every country, sex offenders congregate around schools and routes to and from them. Chikan thrives on embarrassed confusion, therefore seems to be focused on young teens. Older women ‘chappal’ (slipper-slap:) the groper or yell and create a fuss which scares the offender away. Its the young girls who don’t know how to react. Also older women know how to avoid the situations where chikans operate, often from previous experience.

      Is chikan porn real? Some of the vids I’ve seen are disturbingly real with very young teens or older women being attacked by groups on trains. Do they beat them up or hurt them to keep them so subdued? I’ve never heard of such silent, suffering victims in India. Why do they keep quiet?

      • I don’t think Chikan porn is real. I mean, I’ve never seen it – but I can see the “Search Engine History” (like what people type into Google to find my blog) and a lot of it is “Chikan porn” and stuff like that.

        I know in Kabukicho (like the red-light district in Tokyo), they have these things called “Image clubs.” You can pay to live out a fantasy, like an illicit relationship between teacher and student, sexy nurse, or groping someone on a train. Women wear costumes and they have sets for the most “popular” fantasies.
        I’ve never been (foreigners aren’t allowed in and it’s rather expensive) – but I did my college graduation thesis on the red light district in Tokyo, so I’m familiar with some of the services.

        I guess it’s more of a mental and sexual thing.

        I do know of a surprising number of Japanese male friends who were touched by a chikan when they were younger, like in elementary school. And girls who were touched in their elementary – college aged years.

      • there are actually are plenty of silent victims in India. Most groping/molestation go unreported -until recently most women with internet/news access didn’t know it was illegal and to date those who don’t have that access don’t think it’s illegal.

  46. I hate it when I see comments that insist that the problem would disappear if women only reacted differently to being groped or flashed or whatever… it makes women responsible for their own assaults. It’s ludicrous, for one thing you can’t know how you will react in a situation like that until you yourself are in it so saying ‘If that happened to me I would X and Y’ is completely null and void.

    We need to be talking about WHY men do these things and how we can educate our boys to know what is unacceptable behavior from a young age, and more importantly, teach them that women are EQUALS with their own agency and not inanimate sex objects.

    These things happen the world over, I truly believe patriarchy is the cause (mental illness contributes too of course). I’m curious, there is a dialect occurring (primarily online) in much of the western world now about the place of women in society and how it can be changed is this happening in Japanese society at all?

    Really interesting post thank you.

    • crystalized // 17 September, 2013 at 10:49 pm //

      I agree educating boys is the best way to go about it, but like you also said we live in a patriarchal world. Very rarely do I see anything teaching boys proper behavior in the USA let alone Japan. I vaguely remember the boys receiving ONE short lecture in COLLEGE about when girls say “maybe” that actually means “no”. But that’s it. I guess if you don’t go to college you don’t get a lecture. I don’t believe it’s the woman who’s at fault for not defending herself, but most of the time, it’s all you can do. Men are not going to correct their behavior because they already know society is ruled by men. Thus, it falls to women to “attempt” to defend themselves, even if they shouldn’t have to.

      • Oh my gosh, don’t even get me started about the “dating scene” on American college campuses. Freshman year they told us on average, one in every four women will be raped in her life. I laughed, thinking that was abnormally high. Now I think that statistic is rather low. I know far too many friends who were date raped their freshman and sophomore years.
        I didn’t have any friends in Japanese university get date raped, but I guess if I did, they would be less likely to tell me that (you know, since most of this comes out after a bottle and a half of wine, crying our hearts out over a chick flick which, you know, doesn’t happen very often in Japan).

        Men need to correct their behavior – chikans need to be caught more often – and chikans who ARE caught should have to sit through a 40 hour class (spread over the months) about how to respectfully treat a woman. And do some sort of community service. I was talking to a taxi driver recently, and he said it was weird and unnerving how “women aren’t afraid to walk alone at night anymore.” Um, women shouldn’t have to be afraid. Check yourself.

        • Well you know when you said ‘men’, be more specific would you? Not ALL of the men in the world are frickin perverts that would take an upskirt photo or rape a random person just because they feel like this.

          Second note point: If you didn’t exactly know nowadays even MEN can get raped. Yes you heard me, even men.

          So don’t get us started on this shit until you actually have done research on the actual situation and, if this is a complaint against japan, go ahead, but if this is what you want to show after ‘thorough researching’, be more objective on point views. Don’t just go around saying it when you’re only telling what you (or your friends have experienced) because that’s just hovering over the tens of people you are mixing with, while what we’re talking about is the billions of people populating the world. I don’t care if you’re a counsellor or what, because that doesn’t give you the full right to point at us men when you women are technically doing the same. Period.

          • First of all, this article never mentioned women are the only ones who can be molested. In Japan, it is women who are predominantly molested on trains – but I have heard of cases (mostly on little boys) who have had similar problems.

            Secondly, this article did not deal with rape. As mentioned before, I am a rape counselor in an area near a prison. About one out of every twenty victims is a man. Stop getting offended at things that are meant to be informative. Not all men are chikan; not all victims are women. If you really want to make the world a better place, go out and volunteer or so SOMETHING with your time instead of leaving flaming blog comments on people’s blogs. Seriously.

    • I addressed some of your other comments in the other reply (ie, it is NEVER the woman’s fault, it is sickening when men say “you should have fought back harder, etc in the cases of rape, and women should NOT be responsible for teaching men to respect them). I did want to note that sadly, no, I don’t see this kind of dialogue happening in Japan (either online or in person).

      I have a lot of friends that quit their job after marriage because their husbands are “traditional” and believe the women’s place should be inside the kitchen/taking care of the home (like my fiance’s older sister’s husband). Some women like that. They are happy they no longer have to wake up at 8am, drag themselves to work, and make it home at midnight, dead-tired (or at least that’s what they say). Some women don’t like the working scene.
      And I think the problem lies with the fact that the women who do NOT want to quit their jobs (etc) are judged as “abnormal” or “weird.” Women’s place in society is at home with the kids. Anyone who breaks that rule is considered a rebel, an outlier, and often a bad role model. I’m getting sick and tired of people assuming I will be a housewife after marriage.

      I think a dialogue about women’s place in society needs to happen – but it’s not.

      • Sorry I enjoy reading the comment section as well so I commented alot tonight, but I had to mention what about if a woman doesn’t want kids? Usually women point out the problem of people looking down on them for working, I don’t know of anyone in my apartment building that is not a working lady, every Japanese lady I know works, even my friends who have children work and seem to be expected to work, to put in extra money for their income to raise their kids, I never met an actual stay at home housewife in Japan actually. Anyways the one that Japanese or the world in general seem to really frown upon is if a woman doesn’t want kids, they seem to expect every lady to want and have kids, I don’t know about you but my Japanese in-laws are pressuring about grandkids everytime we see them or are on the phone with them and even said our marriage is not really a marriage because we don’t have kids. A very harsh thing for them to say, and really its none of their business if I don’ want kids or not.

        • Wow. That is really harsh.
          Actually, my father in law asked me the other day if I was preganant. I was like “no, and I’m the same age as your youngest daughter (who is unmarried) – you wouldn’t want HER to be pregnant, would you?”
          Later I found out it was because he got my husband and I a HUGE case of beer and wanted to make sure I could drink it (oops).

          About half the Japanese moms I know work, the other half don’t. Then again, most of them are like 10 – 15 years older than me, with kids in elementary/middle school. Some planned to start working part-time once their kids reach high school.

          I think it’s really rare for a family to NOT have kids in Japan. Several of my married relatives don’t have kids (and don’t want kids) and that took my husband a LOOONG time to wrap him mind around. It’s… difficult. I love kids and can’t wait to have my own (in like 5 years or so) – but I know other women who have had difficulties in their relationship because they don’t want children.

  47. crystalized // 3 September, 2013 at 2:03 pm //

    If someone gropes you, why not knock them six ways into sunday? I feel like the men would do it less if they were afraid the women might actually attack them. The fact that Japanese women “put up with it” means the chikan know they can get away with it.
    Although I have been on a rush hour Tokyo subway train before so I know in those situations it can impossible to know who touched you, let alone be able to reach them in order to hit them. But if I was able to, I would scream like an enraged banshee and attack them.

    I think Japanese men wouldn’t be very hard to intimidate, compared to white men, especially if you’re a tall foreign woman like me lol. Also, I never wear dresses so I would never have an issue with a camera. But they must have a death wish if they try to grope me because I’m usually about a head taller than most of them.

    Despite how strict Japanese society usually is, it is surprising how much they put up with chikan.

    • Your comment was awesome! I was just about to say the same thing but you beat me to it. It’s true, if women acted stronger then men will definitely back-off and think twice before laying a finger on them. It actually is not hard to intimidate anyone. All you need is the attitude and it will naturally show in your face, which will freak the perverts out. Punch them and they will never consider being a pervert again lol

      It’s just that most Japanese women have a weak kind of personality which they think is feminine-like. It’s hard for them to see any other way because they’ve been brought up like that.

      • I mean I’ve met plenty of Japanese women who are confident, strong willed women – but I think when it comes down to being groped, most people freeze. It’s like a fight or flight response, where fighting doesn’t seem like a viable option. It doesn’t help that Japanese culture, by nature, is very non-confrontational.

        I wish men were more afraid of the consequences of chikan actions. I wish women gave them something to be afraid of. If the consequences (and chances of being caught) for chikan actions were more steep, I feel like groping on the train would go down.

      • But yeah, I wish people were more intimidating too… :/

        • Yea I understand. I don’t know if they do, but having self-defense classes there wouldn’t be so bad. It would give them confidence street-wise and how to handle certain situations.

    • I honestly think that people can smell fear. I’ve never been groped; some of my friends have. Each person described it similar to what a rape victim would say – they were in shock. It was humiliating, terrifying, and they weren’t sure what to do. Most of the time the women does not see her attacker. She is also not 100% positive it was a real chikan attack (rather than just an accidental hand).

      It’s all very complicated.
      I do agree with you, though, they should make it MUCH easier for chikan to be caught. And they should increase prison time.

      • crystalized // 4 September, 2013 at 10:12 pm //

        This too. I’ve had other things in my life happen so fast that you don’t have enough time to get over the shock to do anything about it. Mostly I just stayed aware of my surroundings when I was on any train/bus in Japan. I wasn’t really worried, but it was force of habit from traveling in much more dangerous, pickpocketing countries like England and France.
        I kinda had to learn to trust people when I first visited Japan, and then I had to relearn to untrust people when I returned to the USA lol.

        • Same for me. I lived in Africa when I was younger (and grew up inside the US), so I’m used to “dangerous” situations (by Japanese standards). Other friends have never left their prefecture in Japan, don’t have Facebook, and aren’t necessarily in touch with what is going on in the world, on the net, and in other countries. Each person is different, I guess.

    • I have a Japanese friend who elbowed a man in the gut after he groped her on a train, and SHE was hauled into the police station and threatened with arrest because she assaulted him. He didn’t get into any trouble for touching her.

  48. I’ve heard about this before — interesting to know that it seems to be a real phenomenon and not something hyped up. Like anyone, I guess I wonder what really sparks such a massive, gross trend.

    • Me too. I wish I knew. I really do. Most of the the friends I have just accept chikan as a way of life – you get groped every once and a while on the train, but even if you catch one guy, there are hundreds more out there like them.
      One of my good friends had issues dealing with the shame and embarrassment post-groping; it was sad and frustrating to watch.

  49. (I posted a comment yesterday, but I’m pretty sure it got eaten. If this is a repeat, please delete one of them!)

    These signs are in most of the parks around our neighborhood. I am very vigilant with my kids, not only because of the chikan issue, but because there have been at least three (that I know of) attempted kidnappings in our neighborhood in the last 10 years or so – thankfully none successful. Seeing a suspicious looking guy staring at my kids for a bit too long or trying to photograph them brings out my Mama Bear right away!

    I just thought I would mention that the “Japan is so safe” thing can be a bit deceptive. I have been groped in the train, which is bad enough, but I have also had a man expose himself to me on a back street, and also had a guy follow me on his motor bike asking me if I knew the meaning to all kinds of vulgar words (that’s a longer story, and was terrifying, but thankfully turned out OK). It’s not unusual for lots of crimes to go unreported in the news – especially sexual assault. I know of two cases of rape (friends of friends) where the police were involved, but it was never reported in the news (one was a high school girl, and one was a 6-year-old. Yes, 6). I can’t get my mind around it, really – a country where you lose your wallet and it’s returned untouched vs. the weird sex crimes on women and minors. It’s baffling, and it is never a bad idea to play it safe, even in Japan, even if it is safer than the US overall!!

    • Now that you mention it, I did have a friend who was date raped in Japan. She was Japanese and tried going to the police – only to be verbally abused and shamed because it was a “date.” I’ve heard that date rape and other rape cases are not prosecuted in Japan very often. That terrifies me.
      I didn’t know about the attempted kidnapping case – but where I used to teach English they had a couple cases of a male flasher who would expose himself to small children on the way to school. It was bizarre.

      I think that is what make the perverse sex crimes so awful – when they are put in the same place as a wallet returned untouched, it is pretty incredible. I have days where I don’t feel comfortable in Japan. I’m glad to hear your kids have been fine, though.

      The only other thing I can think of – every once and a while, when I am shopping down in Harajuku/Ebisu/Shibuya area I get recruited by Japanese men to work in their sex shops/as a model/as a waitress/something else “sexual.” It is a very uncomfortable feeling. Usually they will leave me alone when I say “no,” but the very forward ones scare me.

  50. If I lived where men looking up skirts was as big a problem as you describe, I don’t think I would ever wear a skirt.

    • I don’t wear skirts or short dresses like I used to – instead it is long dresses or shorts. It’s a bit sad. I’m glad for the freedom every time I visit the states.

  51. My wife has told me about this. What is it about Japanese society that this seems more common there? Is it because its so patriarchal or is it that pornography is so openly displayed? I have thought about this a lot and just don’t get it. Why don’t the police crack down on it more? I dont want my japanese daughter growing up in a society that allows her to be groped.

    • I really don’t understand why Chikan are such a problem in Japan. It is so widespread – I can’t understand why. I think some of it certainly has to do with the ample pornography and sexism in society….
      I think that a lot of Japanese people accept Chikan as a way of life (like an unfortunate thing that will always exist). I’m not sure. I really wish I knew…

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