Chikan (body contact)

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A sign outside of a bicycle parking lot in Chiba, Japan, warns "Beware of Chikan!"

Chikan (痴漢, チカン, or ちかん) is a Japanese term referring to sexual harassment or other obscene acts conducted against the victim's will, or a person who commits such an act. The term is frequently used to describe men[1] who take advantage of the crowded conditions on the public transit systems to grope people. While the term is not defined in the Japanese legal system, vernacular use describes acts that violate several laws. The neologism referring to the corresponding female chikan is chijo.

In clinical psychology, the desire is called frotteurism. While women on crowded trains in Japan are the most frequent targets of chikan, sexual predators in Japan can take advantage of people in other situations as well. One such situation (warned against in the sign pictured) is bicycle parking lots, where a molester will wait until a woman or man is bent over, unlocking their bicycle lock, and then grope them from behind. Chikan often features in Japanese pornography, along with other non-consensual themes.[2] As part of the effort to combat chikan, some railway companies have designated women-only passenger cars.[3][4][5]

The term is also sardonically used among hardcore gamers in Japan to describe fans of the Xbox game consoles, as one of the first people interviewed on the original console's launch also purchased a hentai game at the same time.[6]


The National Police Agency (警察庁) reports that about 2,000 to 3,000 chikans are arrested each year.[7] However, there are many dark numbers, with the Cabinet Office (内閣府) reporting that about half of women have been victims of chikan.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Daijirin dictionary entry for chikan
  2. ^ WuDunn, Sheryl (17 December 1995). "On Tokyo's Packed Trains, Molesters Are Brazen". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  3. ^ The His and Hers Subway Archived December 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Japan Tries Women-Only Train Cars to Stop Groping: Tokyo Subway Experiment Attempts to Slow Epidemic of Subway Fondling" An ABC News article.
  5. ^ "Women-Only Cars on Commuter Trains Cause Controversy in Japan". Archived from the original on 2005-11-13. Retrieved 2005-10-29.
  6. ^ "Why Xbox Fans Are Called "Gropers" in Japan".
  7. ^ "令和3年警察白書 統計資料 2-41 痴漢事犯の検挙状況等の推移". 警察庁. Retrieved 2022-06-29.
  8. ^ "男女間における暴力に関する調査(平成11年度調査)". 内閣府. Retrieved 2022-06-29.