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Kanchō: What is the Bizarre Japanese Children’s Game All About?

The East Asian game in which school children really do get the last laugh.

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We often take it for granted to feel safe when walking or standing with our backs turned to people in public, especially children. But this isn’t the case for teachers in East Asia thanks to this new game, Kancho.

The craze is called Kancho and it involves sneaking up behind your victim before poking them up the backside with clasped hands and outstretched index fingers in a gun gesture. Oh and you shout ‘Kancho!’ as you do it. It really is as simple and random as that. The game started as an innocent prank between friends before teachers, and even strangers began falling victim. 

Interestingly, different countries refer to the game in different ways; in Korea they shout ‘Ddongchim!’, and the game is known to have spread as far as Mexico where they shout ‘Saca casas!’.

That’s a lot of brave school children and nervous teachers around the world!

The actual origins of the bizarre game are disputed. Some claim it was a misinterpretation of a martial arts move that led to the craze, although I’m not sure what martial arts include trying to poke your opponent up the butt, whilst others say its origins lie in popular anime cartoons. 

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Either way, Kancho’s popularity has certainly soared in recent years. One town in Korea saw the game as so central to their culture that they decided to build a statue commemorating it on the sea front. I can’t hep but wonder how the locals feel about this unique addition to their town’s landmarks. 

If that isn’t strange enough, there is an arcade game in Japan for all the Kancho lovers called Boong-Ga Boong-Ga that essentially simulates the game, with the screen actually displaying the grimacing face of your victim. At least this offers kids a chance to feel the thrill without risking getting a detention from their teachers. 

While it all sounds fun and games there have been some serious incidents related to Kancho. One man died after being kancho-ed by his friend with an air compressor. The compressed air bubbles caused complications and led to his death. Although I would assume the use of an air compressor  probably wasn’t in the original rules of the game…

The bizarre game hasn’t reached the West yet, but I’d say it’s better to be prepared in advance for if it ever does. The rule to take away: never turn your back to a Japanese school child, and if you do, be prepared to be Kancho-ed. 

Take a look at our other tips for visiting Japan here…

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