I Am a High School English Teacher in Japan
June 12, 2005 3:12 PM   Subscribe

Beware the Kancho! The ongoing adventures and cultural insights of an American English teacher in Japan.
posted by John of Michigan (47 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Having taught only grown-ups in Japan, this is wild stuff for me. And for those who dismiss posts like these as more Japan-is-Weird fodder...well, have you been there?
posted by kozad at 3:44 PM on June 12, 2005

Yeah, this is an oldie but goodie.

It reminded me of [url=http://www.tard-blog.com/]Tard-blog.[/url]

And I've been to Japan, and it is very weird.
posted by McBain at 3:46 PM on June 12, 2005

doh, I've been posting to too many other message boards...
posted by McBain at 3:46 PM on June 12, 2005

A friend showed this to my girlfriend a few months ago, and ever since, I have to be on constant alert...
posted by kaibutsu at 3:46 PM on June 12, 2005

Interesting. There are a few American Mefites who teach in Japan and China (Korea and Vietnam also come to think of it). afu runs the blog sinosplice which has an excellent section on Teaching in China: A Guide for the Uninitiated.
posted by mlis at 3:47 PM on June 12, 2005

That IS weird.
posted by sveskemus at 3:51 PM on June 12, 2005

Great find. I enjoyed the first post immensely. I'm going to go read the others.
posted by hipnerd at 3:54 PM on June 12, 2005

"In Japan, there is a gameshow where a celebrity routinely kanchos random people."

Like I said, Japan is weird.
posted by McBain at 3:59 PM on June 12, 2005

This is great. One of the funniest things I've read lately.
posted by Vulpyne at 4:05 PM on June 12, 2005

It's not weird, it just has better TV.
posted by Bugbread at 4:06 PM on June 12, 2005

Um, back when I was taking karate, the master of my style, Joko Ninomiya, was known by the honorific "Kancho."

I never made it to black belt, and now, I'm a little worried for those who did.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 4:08 PM on June 12, 2005

I'm enjoying this. Every word of it rings true.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:11 PM on June 12, 2005

Wow. I'm just as tired of Japan-is-weird stuff as the next guy, but... WOW!
posted by JHarris at 4:32 PM on June 12, 2005

Japanese is a language of homophones. There's about a billion different "kanchos" (I could write some out if Mefi handled non-English characters).

Oh, and before anyone brings it up: Boong-Ga Boong-Ga (the ass-poking video game) is actually from Korea, not Japan, though a billion internet articles based on extensive research ("Hmm...This game is weird, and it's Asian...It must be Japanese!") claim it's from Japan.

That said, one of the things that surprised me on Japanese TV was the quantity of advertising for suppositories. Then again, if the preponderance of advertising is to be believed, all Americans are depressed and sexually impotent, so I guess it should all be taken with a grain of salt.
posted by Bugbread at 4:34 PM on June 12, 2005

Gaijin Smash!
posted by The Thnikkaman at 4:40 PM on June 12, 2005

Excellent writer. I was going to post this someday.

Other good writers on the JET experience were The JetFiles, YongFook, Sensei and Sensibility, but these, due to the 3-year limit on working in JET, are now defunct (actually Yong bailed a year early to move to the bigtime).

Having taught college kids and young adults as a peer, I'd like to go back and try it again. The good news is that thanks to Japan's scary population pyramid, there's only half the number of rugrats there was 15 years ago.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 4:47 PM on June 12, 2005

This is utterly and completely brilliant. I want to see photos...
posted by mert at 5:06 PM on June 12, 2005

There are photos:

Click here.
posted by McBain at 5:20 PM on June 12, 2005

I started reading this guy's blog a while back, but ended up losing the link.

For those of you interested, I've just finished reading a guy's story on getting busted with drugs in Japan. It's a facinating read. Part 1, part 2, part 3.
posted by Jase_B at 5:27 PM on June 12, 2005

A former roommate of mine had been taught the secret art of kancho. Needless to say, I couldn't go up a flight of stairs without constantly looking over my shoulder to see if he was behind me. Heaven forbid if I was carrying a laundry basket at the same time!
posted by krunk at 6:01 PM on June 12, 2005

Another day, another game of dodgedick
[7h15 15 600d]
posted by HyperBlue at 6:19 PM on June 12, 2005

...And God, dear God, please God if you exist, do NOT let Mentos make a Kancho commercial.

I usually find most blogs etc. written by people in Japan to be pretty awful (including my own), but this is actually pretty good.
posted by dead_ at 7:20 PM on June 12, 2005

Is this something I would have to own a rising sun t-shirt with some random kenji on it to understand?

(I kid..) Thanks, I'm gonna have to rummage through this stuff.
posted by Balisong at 8:25 PM on June 12, 2005

I dismiss this as more Japan-Is-Weird fodder, and not only have I been to Japan but I live there. What is with this fascination you all seem to have?
posted by nightchrome at 10:50 PM on June 12, 2005

Yeah, seriously, what is it? I am with nightchrome on this one. I have lived here for three years. It took me 5 minutes to notice it was weird and another ten maybe to get over it. Why can't you guys?

(Maybe I am just irked because my site didn't make the list of JET MeFites above.)

In case you want to know, kancho in this sense really means "enema" but kancho can also mean the head or boss (cho) of something that takes place in a hall or building of that sort (kan).
posted by donkeymon at 11:46 PM on June 12, 2005

I'm with nighchrome and donkeyman . . . It really ain't all that weird over here. Or at least, no weirder than anywhere else. (Although expats' griping is more interesting, and spit-flecked, than it is anywhere else.)
posted by Absit Invidia at 2:35 AM on June 13, 2005

I'm kinda with nightchrome, donkeymon, and Absit Invidia. That is, I think it's just "Japan-is-weird" fodder, and I don't really think Japan is all that weird, but I have no problem with Japan-is-weird fodder, and it doesn't bother me that y'all aren't over it.
posted by Bugbread at 3:23 AM on June 13, 2005

I have a vewy gweat fwiend in Wome called 'Bigu Dikku.'
posted by greatgefilte at 5:50 AM on June 13, 2005

Undy Grundy?
posted by dreamsign at 6:13 AM on June 13, 2005

Having just spoken to a friend who spent 5 years there, I'd just like to say it sounds wierd over there!
He said the (Japanese) teachers also kancho the students.
Well, if not wierd certainly *different*.
posted by asok at 6:54 AM on June 13, 2005

I lived in Japan, twice in fact, and it is weird from a Western perspective (though not of course to the Japanese), and I don't see what's wrong with sharing and celebrating the weirdness, as long as you don't think it somehow makes Japan a bad place, which I don't think anybody here is doing. And those "editorials" are funny. Thanks, John of Michigan!

it just has better TV.

No kidding. When I was teaching in Taiwan (which had unbelievably bad TV back then, as bad as anything in the Soviet bloc) we used to gather in the Japanese Department lounge and watch Japanese TV, even though none of us could understand a word (aside from the Japanese Dep't people, of course) -- it was like a broadcast from a better, livelier universe.
posted by languagehat at 7:46 AM on June 13, 2005

Well, anywhere is weird, of course. Small-town America is weird. I'm sure I'd find Burkina Faso quite a bit different from my big American city.

The fact that Japan seems so familiar on the surface is the factor that makes so many of us glom onto what is so different about Japan and the Japanese.

An indigineous Papuan is a lot "weirder" than your average obasan, but we don't make a habit of posting FPPs on their "weirdness."

posted by kozad at 7:49 AM on June 13, 2005

Sorry, but Japanese TV is terrible. Unwatchable even.

And that guy who ratted on a fellow gaijin for cocaine deserves to be shot.

That is all.
posted by dydecker at 7:50 AM on June 13, 2005

"Moeko's Owl" got me all misty-eyed.
posted by ShawnStruck at 8:33 AM on June 13, 2005

this guy is a genius! i haven't laughed out loud this hard in a good long while. i especially like the bit about his co-worker whose boyfriend's head is too big in "japanese teachers say the darnedest things."

i lived there too for a year, teaching in a jr. high school, and it's all so true! when he talks about students grabbing him - that happened to me piles of times, and it was usually girls grabbing my chest! in fact, i had several random girls in bars also grab my chest - they are seriously fixated on breasts (probably cause they have none and they just can't believe they're real!)

but you get used to the weirdness of japan after awhile - only to realize again upon returning home 'wow, that was surreal'. thinking about stuff like this makes me miss japan.
posted by venus in furs at 9:26 AM on June 13, 2005

dydecker : "Sorry, but Japanese TV is terrible. Unwatchable even."

Blasphemer! (well, it has gone down in quality quite a bit in the last few years...Or, rather, perhaps it was the last bastion of unique weirdness, so after I got used to it it was no longer interesting. Still, I was pretty drawn in by the TV for a good 6 years or so, so it certainly wasn't unwatchable or easily unweirded)
posted by Bugbread at 9:42 AM on June 13, 2005

Big in Korea, bigger in Japan, not unheard-of in Taiwan . . . Just how widespread IS this sticking-your-fingers-up-someone's-ass thing?
posted by pterodactyler at 10:02 AM on June 13, 2005

This "kancho" thing...it sounds like what folks in the States used to call "goosing," although the term and the practice are pretty much a thing of the past AFAIK.
posted by alumshubby at 10:48 AM on June 13, 2005

It's actually a little disturbing to think that my life now includes a little Japanese girl who will randomly teleport into a place, yell "breasts!" at me, then teleport out as quickly as she came.

Oh, man, I'm toast...I was laughing so hard at this one that my boss just walked into my cubicle to see what's so funny. I'm well and truly busted!
posted by alumshubby at 10:59 AM on June 13, 2005

This guy whines about his ex-girlfriend so much he sounds like a high schooler.
posted by Falconetti at 2:50 PM on June 13, 2005

Oh, god, I just checked out the forums there...That is true pain.
posted by Bugbread at 3:57 PM on June 13, 2005

'Kancho' is ?? ('guanchang' in Chinese), which literally means "colonic irrigation."
posted by bokane at 7:50 PM on June 13, 2005

D'oh. Well, MeFi readers literate in characters can probably figure it out anyway.
posted by bokane at 7:51 PM on June 13, 2005

Mmm... my girlfriend's Japanese teacher is showing them bits of tv for cultural immersion purposes. Last class she showed them: "Haia Soja!" (Hair Soldier) You either get a huge wad of money... or your head shaved. Male contestants only, I think.
posted by dreamsign at 10:34 PM on June 13, 2005

Japanese TV is terrible. Unwatchable even

Well, when I was there, Gilgamesh Night and Tonight II were eminently watchable, but things have gone downhill since then...

Seriously, TBS had a simply amazing national-geographic quality series, on the UN world cultural sites or something. Somebody ought to bundle these up and sell to Discovery or something.

Plus their news/discussion shows seem a lot more serious than our gab-fests.

But 90% of the TV there is filled with people who are on TV solely because they're on TV a lot.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:45 PM on June 13, 2005

Kancho....I think I know Michael Jackson's next career move...
posted by Osteo at 6:37 AM on June 14, 2005

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