Guest Post: We Need to Talk About This: Chikan

The Lobster Dance

Trigger warning: sexual harassment

In preface to today’s guest post, a little background about chikan. Somewhere between 50-70% of young Japanese women experience chikan (“pervert,” often “groper”) on Japanese commuter trains in metropolitan areas (Burgess & Horii, p. 3).  To combat this, some train lines have created women-only train cars in major cities to help prevent groping in crowded train cars by providing safe spaces for women. Additionally, Japan’s camera phones make a snapshot noise that cannot be turned off to help prevent upskirt shots (see Stevens, Hayashi). Finally, in order raise awareness of the chikan problem, train stations and train lines have posted warning signs about gropers: “Beware of chikan,” “Chikan is a crime,” and so on.

When Juliana first contacted me about her personal experience with chikan, I was a little surprised, because groping on Japanese public transit is so common that a lot of…

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