The Chikan

Japanese public transit is very crowded — in fact, the operating companies hire employees to help pack trains as full as possible at the height of rush hour (often struggling young or retired sumo wrestlers who need extra cash). Japanese society has very strict sexual mores, as well. A significant social problem is that of creepy strangers on public transit (or in parks) anonymously fondling women in the midst of the crowd and confusion, or otherwise molesting them. These molesters are known by some anime fans as chikan (chikan is actually the act of sexual assault by groping, not the perpetrator), and signs are prominently posted in parks and on transit warning women about them. The (much rarer) females who engage in this behaviour are called chijo.

As of 2006, the Japanese subways have addressed this problem by establishing women-only cars on every train. These are reportedly quite popular. However, their failure to put a dent in numbers of cases resulted in the introduction of routine undercover police patrols of subways in 2009, coupled with new awareness campaigns to encourage reporting and prosecution of offenders.

This problem, incidentally, is also common in other crowded countries with traditionally very patriarchal cultures: India, Indonesia, Taiwan, Egypt, Brazil, and Mexico have, inspired by Japan, all started designating certain passenger cars in their public transport networks (subways, commuter railways, and even bus lines) as women-only for basically the same reason.

Many anime and manga series have at least one episode where a female character encounters a chikan who must be confronted or evaded. The Chikan will tend to be a one-shot character serving a similar role to the Monster of the Week. It's rare for a series to have a recurring chikan, although quite a few series have perverted characters, many of whom are even portrayed sympathetically.

Chikan can also be considered a specific genre of pornography, particularly in Japan where the plot of doujins, hentai, films, etc. can be centered around the issue.


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     Anime & Manga  

  • I My Me! Strawberry Eggs
  • Tenshi Na Konamaiki has both a chikan episode and a sekuhara (sexual harassment) episode.
  • Chou Kuse ni Narisou
  • Kimagure Orange Road: In a manga episode, Kyosuke is distressed because Love Interest Tsundere Madoka is mad with him, and his cousin Kazuya advices him acting pervert towards Madoka to get her to forgive him. Too dumb to acknowledge an obvious plot to get back on him, Kyosuke falls for it and he decides fondling Madoka in the subway... but before he makes the attempt, another woman gets fondled near from them and angrily confronts her harasser. Madoka states how much she detests that kind of men, and Kyosuke wisely loses his nerve and realizes apologizing Madoka is the right action to earn her forgiveness.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka: In a rare case of the chikan being a regular character, our hero pounds one on the bus in an early episode, only to find out later that the molester is his new boss, Vice-Principal Hiroshi Uchiyamada.
    • Uchiyamada eventually ends up landing in serious hot water when he's caught by an undercover policewoman, leaving his things in the train when he flees in a panic. Naturally, Onizuka finds it, and fearing blackmail, Uchiyamada decides to not go forward in his latest "get Onizuka fired" plot.
    • The irony of the first situation is that Onizuka himself wanted to do it, but Uchiyamada got there first.
  • Futana from Futaba-kun Change!, much to the dismay of "her" brother.
  • In No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular, this was the focus of chapter 24 aptly titled, "Because I'm not popular, I'm going to get molested". In the chapter, Tomoko hears one of her classmates complain about how she was molested on her way to school and laments that no one wants to molest her. Eventually, she does get molested only to find out that her "molester" was in fact a large staff.
  • Nanoka runs into a chikan on her way to school during an episode of Koi Kaze. It's not a major plot point, but it occurs shortly after Nanoka got into an argument with her older brother Koshiro because she felt he was being annoyingly overprotective of her, and the experience led her to appreciate that Koshiro meant well.
  • In the Love Hina Christmas Special, Motoko is groped by one on a subway; her response, being Motoko, is violence. But unlike the vast majority of violence she was able to inflict in Love Hina to that point, this time, her beating the man almost gets her arrested.
    • Also happens by accident to Naru and Keitaro. Poor guy just never gets a break...
  • Inverted in Mahou Sensei Negima! in the first chapter when Negi is riding to the school. Little boys are QUITE popular with high school age girls. And that sequence was significantly less perverted in the original than it was in the Del Rey version...
  • A whole episode of Tantei Gakuen Q focuses on three detective girls (The Chick Megumi, Action Girl Yukihira and former Meganekko/now Cute Bruiser-in-training Kuniko) trying to capture one of these who attacked Kuniko on a train. Kuniko had just gone through a tremendous Break the Cutie ordeal few weeks ago and, despite her Adrenaline Makeover, she still had a long way to go, and ended up having a sobbing meltdown. Yukihira also gave her a quick Get a Hold of Yourself Man, letting her pull her act together, which she did as the three girls worked together to locate the offender and prove his involvement. By the end not only they succeed, but Kuniko partially upgrades to Action Girl by being the one who knocked out the chikan in the end.
  • In You're Under Arrest!, the Wholesome Crossdresser Aoi Futaba is actually part of the Anti-Chikan unit.
  • Ultra Maniac had Ayu get prodded by a boy when travelling to school one morning, Nina makes her a magical ring to stop perverts touching Ayu in future. It is supposed to give them non-lethal but still pretty painful electric shocks when they touch Ayu at all, unfortunately it classifies anyone male as a potential groper.
  • In one chapter of the Keroro Gunsou manga, mom Aki ends up fending off a chikan with a judo throw while ruminating on what makes an appealing manga character. She then tells him "If you want to feel up this manga character, come up with a better scenario first!"
  • Hilariously done when Agon and Hiruma save a girl from one of these in Eyeshield 21. After being sent a live video feed of said girl being harassed by a chikan, Agon immediately leaves where he is, goes to the subway, and rips the man from the train while it's moving. Agon then gets to work on getting under the girl's skirt while Hiruma goes on to blackmail the chikan.
  • In Aoi Hana, the characters meet again after Fumi is molested on the train. Akira stomps on the Chikan's foot after she recognizes Fumi's expression and advises she remember to do that in the future.
    • Briefly referenced to in Wandering Son, by the same mangaka. Once beginning high school, Chiba began going on the train. She says she encountered a pervert, but nothing much is said about it. Starting from then, she lets her mom drive her to school.
    • Shimura seems to have a thing for Chikan in her manga. In one of her earlier manga Inhabitants of the Threshold the protagonist - who was a boy - gets molested by a man on the bus, and Yuki from Wandering Son gets groped by a man on the train but then becomes his friend in a spinoff.
  • In Change 123 Motoko is molested by a chikan on the way to meet Kosukegawa. She is so flustered that her Split Personality Hibiki takes control and reaches down to meet the pervert's fingers. At first he believes she is getting into it, but needless to say this was not the case.
    "Woah! All four of his fingers are backwards."
  • In the Midori Days manga, several girls in Ayase's class get their skirt slit by a pervert on the subway. Ayase's response is to dress Seiji in drag and have him accompany her on the train. Naturally, his (uninformed) male friends think him the hottest thing ever. He catches the pervert ripping Ayase's dress and proceeds to beat the crap out of him, only partially losing his disguise in the process. And accidentally ripping off Ayase's skirt.
  • In an episode of Speed Grapher, a guy grabs Kagura's ass on a subway, however, since Kagura is a sheltered rich girl who knows very little about the real world and has never even been on the subway before, she doesn't do anything about it and just giggles and blushes. A bit later when Saiga asks what she was giggling about, she tells him a guy was "tickling" her; Saiga tells her the guy was a pervert and she should have told him about it sooner.
  • In Death Note, Mikami sets one up to die so he can confuse the SPK with a fake notebook.
  • Parodied in an episode and chapter of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei. Nozomu is shown handcuffing himself to the train railing to prevent accusations of this, but when Nami screams out for an unrelated reason, he gets arrested anyway. When Nami explains he wasn't molesting her, the police are happy to let him go, but Nozomu wants to plead guilty—his logic is to the effect that being punished means he can move on afterward, but if he denies it, people will think he's scum.
  • In Girl Friends, Sugi encounters one during her A Day in the Limelight chapter, who happens to be her elementary school teacher. This is also something of a subversion because she's actually used to dealing with molesters; it's the salarymen who come to her rescue that she worries about because they inevitably want to date her.
  • A short one in Deep Love where a man molests Ayu on a train, she lets him and robs him afterwards (charging the amount she would for regular johns). She throws the money away afterwards.
  • In Mawaru-Penguindrum, Ringo's friend Yukina mistakes Shouma for one. Meanwhile, #1 is prone to squeeze into skirts and has mastered the Floor-Level Mirror Technique.
  • This issue is only referenced, never explained in Seitokai Yakuindomo. In episode one, main character Takatoshi finds himself in a subway car nearly exclusively populated by women. To keep from being falsely accused, he assumes the same position as all the other men: riding with his hands held high so that no one can call him a molester. It's a social issue that's played for laughs, like most other things in the series.
  • Eden No Hana features one that tries to grope Midori Wakatsuki's thigh when she falls asleep on her train seat. Her classmate Hashiba realises this just in time, and scares him off.
  • In an early chapter of Detroit Metal City Negishi is falsely accused of subway groping. It later also turns out that Gaylord (the first Krauser) had to temporarily retire from metal because he was jailed for sexual assault after groping women on trains.
  • In Detective Conan, Masumi Sera was believed to a chikan who molested Sonoko during her introduction, so Ran attacked her. Fortunately, Sera could defended herself. Conan pointed out that Sera grabbed the hand of the actual chikan and Sonoko mistook the wrong one for the culprit. Of course, they didnt know that Sera was a girl when they first met her.
    • A character called Etsutoshi Oba crossed his arms in the train, so nobody would mistake him as a chikan. It turns out that he crossed his arms to hide the knife which he used to kill the hooligan who killed his twin brother.
  • One hentai subverted the usual expectation for its genre with regards to this trope. The woman in question (the heroine) pinched the offending hand with her hairclip and disembarked.
  • In an early story in Parasyte, an alien possessing the body of a female schoolteacher catches a chikan groping a different woman, while commuting home. She loudly calls him out on it, and eventually beats him senseless. The other passengers, meanwhile, cheer her on.
  • The Tokyo Ghoul one-shot Joker, Juuzou and his partner witness one molesting a girl on the train and call him out. Shortly afterwards, they come across the pervert being attacked by the Ghoul they've been hunting. It turns out to be the girl they rescued, who followed and ripped the offending arm off in revenge.

     Comic Books  

  • Voltaire's comic, Deady Big in Japan mentions this when Deady is shoved into a subway. He turns out to be the Chikan. (Since he has tentacles, he is able to harass a great deal of women at once) The women he is harassing then accuse an elderly man of touching them and beat him up. Deady walks away unscathed.

     Fan Fiction 



  • Western example: The main character in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is groped on a train. Her aunt considers it a sign of maturity. This particular aunt is a Good Bad Girl who Really Gets Around, and the story is set in the 1910s, so expect some Values Dissonance to be in play.
    • To be fair to the aunt, she gave her a knitting needle which the protagonist was almost looking forward to using.
  • In the introductory Japanese textbook Genki, one of the male characters, Takeshi, is groped by a shadowy chikan in a cartoon illustration of the vocabulary world "sawararemashita" (to be touched against one's will).

     Live Action TV  

  • The story of Densha Otoko (Train Man), both in real life and the dramatized TV version, starts with a loser confronting a chikan on the subway and unexpectedly winning a date for his trouble.
  • They try to set up a sting for this on Reno 911!, but since the "bait" is Dep. Weigel no one tries it.
  • An incident with a tv reporter who had her bottom pinched while in the middle of a live report.


     Video Games  

  • Lei-Fang's ending in Dead or Alive 4 is a perfect example of Values Dissonance. A man stumbles on a train and accidentally grabs Lei-Fang's breasts as he's falling. She responds by kicking him out of the train's windows, where he plummets into a river. The situation is Played for Laughs, and the crowd gets up and gives Lei-Fang a standing ovation. Find the video on YouTube and read the comments to get an idea of how disturbing this is to Westerners... Though some of the commenters do seem to think it was Disproportionate Retribution (it's explicitly shown to be an accident on the man's part) and the guy may have been killed.
    • Some of the applause was probably due to her shirt unbuttoning and her skirt slitting up to her pantyline.
  • In Twinbee Taisen Puzzle-Dama, Madoka takes Dr. Warumon as one upon encountering him in her storyline. The poor guy's response to this is priceless.


Alternative Title(s):

Chikan, Train Molester