Nagoya stationery company caught by surprise at overwhelming demand for anti-chikan item.
Nagooya-based Shachihata’s product lineup consists of the sort of things you’d expect from a stationery company. Pens, stamps, hanko, the personal seals used on Japanese legal documents in place of a signature. Shachihata has them all.
But the company’s hottest-selling product right now isn’t for leaving marks on paper, but on perverts. Called the Anti-Nuisance Stamp, it’s being marketed as a way for women to fight back against chikan, Japan’s infamous train gropers.
Development of the Anti-Nuisance Stamp started about three months ago, when some Japanese Twitter users began tossing around the idea of marking chikan with pricks from safety pins, with proponents of the plan asserting that they could be used to leave marks in the skin of offenders. However, many women were reluctant to start stabbing people, even with something as small as a pin, and so Shachihata’s designers decided to put together a non-piercing alternative.
The Anti-Nuisance Stamp uses a special UV ink that leaves no visible mark to the naked eye, but shows up under a blacklight. Ostensibly, this would make it harder for the chikan to notice exactly where he’s been marked, thus making it harder to wash off and allowing for easier identification by the police or other authorities. Shachihata also decided on a capless design, in order to make the marking process as swift as possible, lest the chikan escape unmarked.
On August 27, Shachihata released its first run of Anti-Nuisance Stamps, in order to gauge market response to the concept, priced at 2,500 yen (US$23). Before the end of the day, they were completely sold out, with buyers quickly snapping up all 500 units in the initial batch.
With spoke with a Shachihata representative, who acknowledged that some people have expressed concerns about the possibility of men being marked by the stamps as part of false groping accusations. “In regards to the idea of false accusations, we recognize that it is a very complex situation,” the representative said, “but we feel it is necessary for us to make it clear that we feel such crimes [train gropings] are inexcusable.”
The representative went on to say that Shachihata was unprepared for the response from customers to be as quick or as strong as it was. “We were honestly surprised. We never imagined we would sell the entire batch on the first day.” He also explained that even more so than contributing to the marking of chikan, the company hopes that the existence of the stamps will contribute to an environment in which gropers feel less emboldened to attempt attacks in the first place, and that hopefully buyer will never have to actually use them.
While the Anti-Nuisance Stamp is sold out for now, the company says it will be examining customer feedback while improving the design for increased effectiveness and ease of use, and it’s a safe bet that they’ll be making more than 500 units for the second batch.