Tuesday, April 30, 2019

chikan 痴漢

NSFW : this article may contain words or images you'd rather not have your boss see.

In Japanese, chikan 痴漢 means, typically, the criminal act of groping women on the train. Literally, the word means "foolish man," from there, it means a man who behaves obscenely, doing or saying inappropriate things to women, i.e. a "pervert," "molester," "groper," and so on.

Example of chikan 痴漢, "molester," in a train.
Left: MIO5, Mioko みおこ
Right: random molester
Anime: Ojisan to Marshmallow, おじさんとマシュマロ (Episode 7)


The word chikan has three meanings(痴漢 - デジタル大辞泉):

  1. A foolish man.
  2. A man who does something perverted or obscene toward a woman. A perv.
  3. The act of groping women on the train.

The third meaning is the best well-known usage of the term, I think, simply because it has been a huge societal problem in Japan, so it's talked about a lot, and depicted in all sorts of series a lot. It would be an abbreviation of:

  • chikan koui
    The act of chikan.
    The act of a perverted man. The act of molestation.
    • This is a crime, and, also, a genre of pornography in which actors pretend to be committing said crime.
THE痴漢 厳選100連発! 「だ、誰か助けて・・」
Anime: Gintama 銀魂 (Episode 94)
  • Context: Hasegawa Taizou 長谷川泰三 was arrested for chikan. He claims to be innocent. When confronted by Gintoki 銀時 about a chikan DVD, he insists he's innocent, claiming he can differentiate fiction and reality.
  • za chikan
    The pervert. (title with English word because English makes it cooler.)
  • gensen hyaku renpatsu!
    Careful selection of one hundred consecutive shots! (in the sense of one after the other.)
  • "da, dareka tasukete.."
    "So, someone help [me].."

The legal term for the crime wouldn't be chikan, but something like:

The term chikan originally refers to the man doing the act, not the act done by the man, but since it can be used as an abbreviation of the above, it can refer to both man and act. In fact, it can even be used as a verb:

  • chikan suru
    To molest. To grope.
  • chikan sareru
    To be molested. To be groped.


Strictly speaking, verbal sexual harassment, among various other sorts of inappropriate things, may also count as chikan, so it's not only "molestation" in the physical sense.

Some translators avoid the term "molester" and instead choose to translate chikan to English as "groper," perhaps due to the broader and heavier nuance the term "molester" has compared to the more specific "groper."

In particular, molestation implies the use of force to sexually assault someone. The term tends to be used with female and child victims that lack the physical strength to stop an adult, male assailant.

However, chikan may refer to groping and inappropriate-touching scenarios in which no such use of force exists. It could sound odd for someone, for example, to call a scene such as the one below "molestation," even thought you could call it chikan.

かわいー♥ いや、この子達は・・・ ピトッ きゃっ ゴメンゴメンつい手が・・・ 毛利さん、そういう店じゃないんで・・・ ペキッ 娘の前でバニーの尻を触るかねぇ・・・ セクハラで訴えられますよ? もうしねぇよォ・・・ ーーったく・・・ さぁさぁ!何でも頼んでいいよ! じゃあフードでもいい? 私、お昼食べ損ねてペコペコでー・・・
Manga: Detective Conan, Meitantei Konan 名探偵コナン (Volume 95, File.6 黒ウサギ亭にて)
  • Context: a genius detective whose body has reverted to a child for reasons is brought to a club featuring bunny girls in order to investigate a crime. One of the bunny girls mistakes him for the child of a regular customer.
  • kawaii ♥
    [He] is a cutie ♥.
  • iya, kono ko-tachi wa...
    [You've got it wrong], these children [are]...
  • pito'
    *sound effect for contact.*
  • kya'
  • gomen gomen tsui te ga...
    Sorry, sorry, [mu] hand just... (did it on its own, without thinking.)
  • Mouri-san, souiu mise jainai-n-de...
    Mouri-san, [this] isn't that sort of establishment...
    • It's a restaurant with bunny girl waitresses, not anything lewder.
  • peki'
    *slapping [his own hand]*
  • musume no mae de banii no shiri sawaru ka nee...
    [You'd] touch a bunny [girl]'s butt in front of [your] daughter, [huh]...
  • sekuhara de utaeraremasu yo?
    [You're going to] get sued for sexual harassment, [you know]?
    • Because he's a "groper," chikan 痴漢.
  • mou shinee yoo...
    [I] won't do [it] again...
  • ttaku...
    [Good grief]...
  • saa saa! nandemo tanonde ii yo!
    (Interjection used to hurry someone, like "come on")! [You] can order anything!
  • jaa fuudo demo ii?
    Even food? (as opposed to alcohol.)
  • watashi, ohiru tabe-sokonete pekopeko dee...
    I didn't eat lunch so [I'm starving]...
    • pekopeko is an ideophone for being hungry.
    • ~sokoneru is an auxiliary verb meaning "to fail to," "to miss." In this case, to fail to eat lunch, to miss the chance to eat lunch.

Although chikan can be translated to "pervert" in specific contexts, to "pervert" in Japanese in general you would use another word, like:

  • hentai
    Pervert. (general sense.)
    In English, refers to pornographic anime and manga.

There's also other specific types of perverts, such as:

  • sutookaa


The word chikan is written with two kanji:

  1. chi

  2. otoko


That is:

  • oroka na otoko
    Foolish man.

Note that "man" is normally spelled otoko 男 in Japanese. The 漢 kanji means "man" in Chinese, and it's not normally used in Japanese. An exception is the spelling otoko used in anime and manga as a meme for a "man among men."


The word chijo 痴女 means a female chikan, a female "molester," or a female "pervert." It's written like chikan 痴漢, but with the kanji for "woman," onna 女, instead.

The word chijo doesn't mean "being groped by a woman," though.

Reverse Chikan

The term gyaku-chikan 逆痴漢, meaning "reverse chikan," is a slang for "women molesting men," used more in the pornographic sense.

See gyaku for other terms like this.

This is a crime just like the usual chikan. And, again, neither chikan nor gyaku-chikan are legal terms.

The law doesn't care the gender of the victim or the assailant, they'll just get charged under the same kyousei waisetsu crime or whatever. I'm not a lawyer so I wouldn't know the specifics.


In anime and manga, chikan is sometimes used as a plot point, or set up for a joke. One that's awfully common, in fact.

ドン 電車のトラブルの定番が まぁこんだけ混んでりゃ大丈夫だろ・・・グフフ・・・
Manga: Saiki Kusuo no Psi-Nan, 斉木楠雄のΨ難 (Chapter 165, 電車のΨ難)
  • Context: the protagonist goes through a bunch of trouble in train, and just when he thinks it's all over, he realizes there's still some trouble left.
  • don
    *bam* (effect used when something suddenly shows up on screen, typically accompanied by focus lines in manga.)
  • densha no toraburu no teiban ga
    [There's still] the staple of train troubles. (referring to chikan, and how cliché it is.)
    • mada kore ga aru
      There's still this.
  • maa kondake konderya daijoubu daro... gufufufu...
    [I guess] if [it] is this much crowded [it] will be alright, *snickers.*

It's a trope common enough for you to get absurd stuff like this:

ピッ電話終了しました もしかして私以外の女子校生ってほとんど痴漢されてるのか? なんだこの敗北感・・・まるで痴漢にあってる方が女として優れてるみたいな・・・
Manga: Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! 私がモテないのはどう考えてもお前らが悪い! (Chapter 24, モテないし痴漢される)
  • Context: Kuroki Tomoko 黒木智子 learns her friend has been groped in the train, proceeds to say one of the stupidest things you'll ever read in manga.
  • pi' den'wa shuuryou shimashita
    *beep* the call ended.
  • moshikashite watashi igai no joshikousei tte hotondo chikan sareteru no ka?
    Could it be that, except for me, most high school girls have been molested?
  • nanda kono haibokukan...
    What's with this feeling of defeat...
  • maru de chikan ni atteru hou ga onna toshite sugureteru mitai na...
    It's like if the ones that have had an encounter with a molester are superior as women...
    • Note: Tomoko has obvious mental issues, and she's the protagonist of a cringe dark comedy manga, so, for the love of all that's holy, disregard whatever she says.
    • But, anyway, her hypothesis is like saying "only hot girls get groped," which subsequently means, in Tomoko's mind, that "since I haven't been groped yet, that means I'm not hot enough."
    • Obviously, this is all sorts of wrong, because, again, Tomoko has some serious issues.


Although chikan can often be explained as "groping women on a train," we're not talking about just any train.

No groper would be stupid enough to grope someone in an empty train. We're talking about full trains, with everyone closely side by side, packed like sardines inside the passenger cars.

  • man'in densha
    An [electric] train full of people.
  • komu
    To crowd. For people or things to fill a space.
    • komu
      To put in. To pack something with something else.

In Japan, trains are a common mean of public transportation. Adults take trains to go to their jobs, children take trains to go to school, and people take trains to travel across cities and the country in general.

The chikan scenario only really happens in the trains used to commute, during the peak hours: at morning, to go to work or school, and at evening, to come back home. Because these trains will be full of people.

  • tsuukin rasshu
    Rush [hour] for commuting to work.
    • tsuukin
      Commuting to work.
    • tsuugaku
      Commuting to school.

A pervert can take advantage of this situation to cop a feel, and then if the girl says he's a groper, he can try to defend himself by claiming he was totally not groping anybody on purpose, and his hand just happened to lightly touch her behind by accident and pure coincidence.

・・・ん~~当たってる・・・だけ? いや ちがうな・・・ かんっぺきにさわられてるなコレは・・・ チカンにあってます 転校初日から最悪だなオ~~イ・・・
Manga: Sabagebu! さばげぶっ! (Chapter 1, 転校初日)
  • Context: Sonokawa Momoka 園川モモカ starts the series with wrong foot.
  • ...n~~ atatteru... dake?
    ...hmm~~ is [it] just... touching?
    • ataru
      To touch. To hit. For two things to be in contact with each other, like a girl's butt and a perv's hand.
  • iya, chigau na... kanppeki ni sawarareteru na kore wa...
    いや ちがう・・・かんっぺきにさわられてるなコレは・・・
    No, [that's not it]... [it] is completely [me] being touched, this [situation...
  • chikan ni attemasu
    [She] is having an encounter with molestation. (literally.)
    • au 遭う, "to meet," in the sense of having an encounter with a situation, a bad one.
  • tenkou shonichi kara saiaku da na o~~i...
    From the first day after changing schools, [this] is the worst, o~~i...

Also, when the train is full, it gets hard to see whose hand is doing the touching, which gives the groper the defense of "do you have any proof it was me, and not anyone else?"

A salaryman gropes a high school girl in a train, example of chikan 痴漢.
Left: Hori Chizuko 堀千鶴子
Right: random molester
Anime: Hinomaru-zumou 火ノ丸相撲 (Episode 1)

Now, since the train where the chikan happens is used for commute, it makes sense to think that the molester is commuting, and the victim, too, is commuting. Typically, they would be:

  1. A "salaryman," sarariiman サラリーマン, which is, archetypically, an office worker in a business suit.
  2. An OL, "office lady," which is a female office worker.
  3. A JK, joshi-kousei 女子高生, "high school girl." The male equivalent would be DK, but that's rarely used.

Usually, the scenario is that there's a salaryman groping OLs and JKs in a train, or, in rare cases, a high school boy doing it instead of a salaryman.

  • Mioko is an OL, she works as an illustrator in an web-related company.
  • Hori is a JK, and the guy groping her is a salaryman. Same with Momoka.

Most of the time it will be a JK, simply because most anime feature high school students, so the victim character could be the classmate of the protagonist of the series, for example, or the protagonist herself, and the plot just develops from there.

For the record, the same sort of stuff could occur in a "bus," basu バス, but I don't know of any examples of bus chikan happening in anime, given that in anime characters always commute by train, not by bus.

Ending One's Life

Generally, the perv character is a salaryman, an adult working a random corporate office job to support his wife and children, and, as such, if he ever got caught doing something criminally obscene and reprehensible like groping a JK's behind in a train, his life is over. Period. The end.

The obvious consequences of "groping" someone on the train, chikan 痴漢.
Anime: Africa no Salaryman, アフリカのサラリーマン (Episode 1)

Even ignoring going to jail, just the settlement money, divorce, and getting fired from the company over this sort of thing is enough to ruin the dude's life once and for all, which makes one question why would he even do something stupid like committing chikan in first place.

  • shikkashi chikan tte nande konna ni baka na no ka na
    [That said], why are gropers so stupid, [I wonder]?
    • shikkashi is shikashi しかし pronounced differently.
  • watashi ga ima oogoe agetara shigoto mo kazoku mo zenbu paa ni naru noni...
    If [I] screamed right now, [his] job, [his] family, and everything [else] would go poof...
    • paa ni naru
      To go poof. To disappear. To be gone.
  • jinsei kakete made joshi kousei no shiri ga sawaritai mon ka nee
    [He's someone who] wants to touch a high school girl's butt enough to gamble away [his] life, [huh].
  • Sonokawa Momoka, manga: Sabagebu! さばげぶっ! (Chapter 1, 転校初日).

Catching the Molester

Typically, molesters are lame background villain characters that only exist to get caught.

Whether he'll face serious consequences for his crimes depends mostly on whether it's a serious anime or a comedy anime.

In light-hearted anime, they tend to appear only for that one scene and then they're never seen again, while in serious anime the character may persist for over one episode, or worse, they may be part of the main cast.

Watching Over Possible Victims

Since both the molester and his victims are commuting to their jobs or schools, they're not randomly ending up in the same train: they get in the same train every day, at morning to go to their occupations, and at evening to come home.

That means it's possible for a molester to molest the same victim multiple times, which is all sorts of disturbing. The victim may not have the choice to board a different train or commute a different way, so she'll have to catch the creepy bastard in order to return her life to normal.

For that, it's possible to ask a third party to watch over her in order to figure out who's doing the inappropriate touching.

Even if such molester doesn't exist yet, one may appear in the future, so sometimes the plot includes a relationship between girl and her trusty anti-groper bodyguard who makes sure she arrives safely wherever.

ひょんなことからお近づきになり 委員会だかでラッシュ時に登校しなきゃならない月曜日だけ 痴漢防止のボディーガードを仰せつかるようになったりして
Doujinshi: Getsuyoubi no Tawawa 月曜日のたわわ (C89, circle: Himaru Nyuugyou 比村乳業)
  • Context: a salaryman recalls the backstory.
  • hyonna koto kara ochikadzuki ni nari
    Due to something strange [happening], [we] became acquaintances, [then]...
    • nari is a ren'youkei 連用形 and can be used to connect an event to a subsequent one, translating here as "to become X, and then..."
  • {iinkai daka de rasshu-ji ni toukou shinakya naranai} getsuyoubi dake
    Only in the Mondays, [when] {[she] has to go to school at rush hours due to [something related] to a [school] committee}...
  • {chikan boushi no bodhii gaado wo oosetsukaru} you ni nattari shite
    [I] end up becoming {[her] anti-groper body guard}.
    • boushi 防止 means "prevention," so something chikan-boushi is something that prevents chikan, i.e. prevents gropers, anti-gropers.

Damsel in Distress, Meet Your Hero

A common trope is having chikan happen just for the sake of a making a character look like a hero by catching the molester.

That is, there's the protagonist, and a girl from his class whom he's not acquainted with, and a conveniently placed molester behind her doing all the groping, then, also conveniently, the protagonist is the only guy in the whole train to witness the act and do something about it.

This establishes the protagonist as a good Samaritan who won't allow creepy groping to happen in his presence, and often results in the girl falling in love with him, or at least getting indebted in a way or another. At very least, this is the beginning of whatever relationship they may have in the future.

  • In Ojisan to Marhsmallow, it introduces the damsel Mioko to the hero-protagonist Hige-san, whom she literally calls her hero.
  • In Sabagebu, it introduces the damsel-protagonist Momoka to the hero Miou, the president of the school club the series is about. The whole groping scene occurs at the very start of the first chapter.
  • In Hinomaru-zumou, it introduces the damsel Chizuko to the hero-protagonist Hinomaru, at the very start of the first chapter, too.

Although personally I believe this is kind of cheap and lame writing, creating a whole groping situation just for the sake of making a character look like a hero, it's not particularly worse than similar scenarios, like:

  • Having a thief conveniently steal a bag or wallet and start running away, only to get caught by the hero.
  • Having a gang conveniently show up and harass a character into giving away their lunch money or salary money, only to get beaten by the hero.

And so on.

Catching the Person that Catches the Molester

After catching the molester you call the cops to arrest the molester. More specifically, in the case of trains, you call the officers working at the train station.

And, sometimes, the character that catches the molester looks more criminal than the perverted middle-aged salaryman, so, as a gag, the officers arrest the hero instead of arresting the groper.

こんなマネして恥ずかしくないんか! お天道様は見とるぞ ざわざわざわ おーい駅員さん!こっちこっち! なんて格好をしてるんだ貴様!! はっ!?いやいや!!チカンはこっちじゃて こっち!
Manga: Hinomaru-zumou 火ノ丸相撲 (Chapter 1, 潮 火ノ丸)
  • Context: Ushio Hinomaru 潮火ノ丸 catches a groper while going to school by train. Unfortunately for him, this is an anime about sumou 相撲, so he's wearing only a sumo loincloth instead of pants, also known as a mawashi 回し.
  • konna mane shite hazukashikunai-n-ka!
    Aren't [you] ashamed of behaving like this?
    • ~nai-n-ka is ~nai no ka ないのか.
    • mane wo suru
      To behave [in a way].
      To mimic [something] by behaving like it.
  • otentosama wa mitoru zo!!
    [God] is watching!
    • More literally, tentou 天道, literally "celestial path," refers to "the Sun," taiyou 太陽, which in Japanese culture is also known as the goddess Amaterasu-ookami 天照大神.
  • zawa zawa zawa
    *sound of commotion from the crowd gathering*
  • ooi ekiin-san! kocchi kocchi!
    Hey, [train] station employee! This way, this way!
  • nante kakkou wo shiteru-n-da kisama!!
    What [outrageous] outfit [you're wearing]!
    • kakkou wo suru
      To make [oneself] appear somehow.
      To wear an outfit.
  • ha'!? iyai ya!! chikan wa kocchi jate kocchi!!
    はっ!?いやいや!!チカンはこっちじゃて こっち!
    Hah!? No, no!! The pervert is this [guy], [I'm telling you], this [guy]! (not me!)
Ootori Miou 鳳美煌 gets arrested for waving a gun in a train as she tried to save Sonokawa Momoka 園川モモカ from a random molester, example of a chikan 痴漢 trope.
Left: random molester
Middle: Ootori Miou 鳳美煌
Right: Sonokawa Momoka 園川モモカ
Anime: Sabage-bu'! さばげぶっ! (Episode 1)
  • Context: Miou saves Momoka from a perverted salaryman with the help from her trusty automatic pistols, a couple of desert eagles, and then she's arrested by the guards for waving pistols around inside the train.

False Accusations

Sometimes, a character will be accused of being a molester without being one.

  • enzai
    Miscarriage of justice. When someone is treated as if they're guilty of a crime they didn't commit.
    • chikan-enzai
      Being treated as a groper when you haven't groped anyone.
  • yattenai!
    [I] didn't do [it]! (what the victim of the false accusation says.)

This can happen for three reasons

The Wrong Guy

Maybe there's a molester in the train, but since the train is packed full of people and you don't know who is touching whom, some innocent dude may get accused of doing something someone else did.

The Crime That Didn't Happen

Since everyone's well aware that chikan happens in trains, it's possible to become paranoid about it, and assume that any and all touching is going to be chikan, as opposed to just some accidental and totally innocent touching due to the train being packed full of people.

As such, a female character may mistakenly assume chikan is happening when it isn't, and may accuse someone of touching her inappropriately on purpose, when it was by accident.

Kuroki Tomoko 黒木智子 thinks she's fallen victim of "molestation," chikan 痴漢, but it turns out it was a practice naginata 薙刀, a spear-like weapon, that got stuck between her legs when the train got full.
Left: Kuroki Tomoko 黒木智子
Right: background characters
Anime: Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! 私がモテないのはどう考えてもお前らが悪い! (Episode 4)
  • Context: Tomoko thought she was being molested in the train, but it turns out it was a practice naginata 薙刀, which is a spear-like weapon, that got stuck between her legs when the train got full.
Gouriki Raiki 轟力雷樹 gets falsely accused of touching a woman's behind in a train.
Right: Gouriki Raiki 轟力雷樹
Anime: Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai Shinai Taikutsu na Sekai 下ネタという概念が存在しない退屈な世界 (Episode 1)
  • Context: a woman falsely accuses a student of touching her butt. The student, who lives in a radical puritan society, doesn't even understand for what purpose would he be touching butts. Completely innocent in all senses of the word.

The Other Crime That Happens

Just like some men hide among innocent passengers to touch women, some women hide among real crimes to make false accusations.

It's a trope for women with ill intentions to accuse men of inappropriate touching when they're completely innocent, usually with the goal receiving settlement money by sending them to court.

痴漢ーーーー!!! この鳥のオッサンおしり触った!! えっ なに? サイテー!!ロリコン!! 違いますけど示談金目当てですか?
Manga: Africa no Salaryman, アフリカのサラリーマン (Chapter 2, アフリカの痴漢)
  • Context: a kemono lioness and a gorilla JK are in a train with a toucan salaryman.
  • chikan----!!!
  • kono tori no ossan oshiri sawatta!!
    This bird old-man touched [my] butt!!
  • e' nani?
    えっ なに?
    Eh, what?
  • saitee!! rorikon!!
    [You're] the worst!! [You] pedophile!! (literally "lolicon," because they're underage high school girls.)
  • chigaimasu kedo jidankin-meate desu ka?
    [You got it wrong], is [your] objective settlement money?
    • chigau means "[it] differs," it's used to say someone is wrong when they claim something different from the reality.
    • me-ate refers to what someone has set their eyes on, their aim, in this case the settlement money.

Whether this actually works in practice I have no idea. I guess it does, since there are people doing it. But one would hope you can't just accuse someone without proof and win in court with just your words against them.

Mindful Paranoia

Given all possible possibilities there are for a man to end up falsely accused of groping someone when he's completely innocent, it's possible for a male character to end up becoming paranoid about the possibility of such accusation.

Such character will be overly mindful of where his hands are, and may just avoid being next to women in trains in general.

Sanematsu-san 実松さん gets falsely accused of touching a woman in a train inappropriately. Afterwards, he keeps his hands as far away from women as possible.
Anime: Osomatsu-san おそ松さん (Episode 13)
  • Context: Sanematsu-san 実松さん gets accused of touching a woman in a train inappropriately. Afterwards, he keeps his hands as far away from women as possible when commuting by train.

Women-Only Passenger Cars

A "female-exclusive car," josei sen'you sharyou 女性専用車両, is a passenger car in which men aren't allowed. Sexual segregation at its purest form.

A women-only passenger car, literally "female-exclusive car," josei sen'you sha 女性専用車. A measure to prevent chikan 痴漢, "molesters."
Left: Hige Habahiro 日下幅広
Right: Wakabayashi Iori 若林伊織
Anime: Ojisan to Marshmallow, おじさんとマシュマロ (Episode 3)
  • Context: Hige-san gets on the wrong passenger train.
  • josei sen'you sha
    Women-only [passenger] car.

This is a solution to the chikan problem, and to the "I might get accused of chikan even though I didn't do anything" problem. Both men and women rejoice at not having to be next to each other anymore. Why didn't we think of this before? It's the perfect solution!

An alternative solution would be:

  • dansei sen'you sharyou
    Male-exclusive (men-only) passenger car.
    • It exists, but it's less common.

Note that these things aren't exclusive to Japan. They also exist in other countries.

Wikipedia has an article about Women-only Passenger Cars if you're interested.


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