Last spring when Sebastian came home with a tiny looking medical “something”- I wasn’t sure what it was. Hmm…I opened the small envelope, and pulled out a cellophane wrap that looked like this:


I was still unsure as to what this would be used for. So I finshed opening the rest of the paperwork and I saw these two funny images:


The top is a pinworm. And the bottom is how you find out if you have pinworm.

With that being said, in Japanese schools, pinworm tests (gyochu kensa) are taken once a year, every spring. The pinworm is a nasty parasite that will cause you to itch, ummm… in your backside.

Students like Sebastian are sent home with this “pinworm” kit- and the school sends them off to a lab to see who has the nasty little worm. Not sure what follows, but most likely something that involves medicine and some serious oxy-cleaning of your briefs. We’re just happy that we have so far, been pinworm free in this household.

Collecting the sample, well…I’m sure you can figure out that. It’s kind of like sitting on a yellow post it.

Not sure if this experience is MORE traumatic than lice-checks with popsicles sticks, in a line at your hometown elementary school.

I must say however, that I completely appreciate the medical-checks-at-school process. Once a month, Sebastian is weighed and measured to make sure all is good. Some Japanese schools even have dentists come and check the children’s hygiene. It’s all around- efficient.

So remember, fall back, pinworm forward!


  1. Can you walk into an Okinawan grocery store and buy the medicine for it?
    I know I can get some from Amazon if a family ships it here after but I don’t want to wait that long. Or is it in the pharmacies off post…in Korea I could walk into a pharmacy without having seen a doc and buy it right there?

  2. Its usually passed around between school aged children that do not wash their hands, after playing outside, etc. It gets under their nails, and because they do not wash, then they put their hands in their mouths, where the worms come out and go down into the digestive tract. If you google pinworms, you will find what the long term effects are if not caught and treated.

  3. @Nina:
    I dont believe that the staff in my school (a high school) take the pinworm test, I think thats more an elementary school thing. They do however have a range of other tests once a year – blood tests, vision, hearing, weight/height, teeth, barium swallow (eww), tuberculosis x-ray, urine analysis etc. The medical check is mandatory for Government employees. I dont really know what happens if the results show something out of the ordinary.

  4. Kate- That is interesting about how you mentioned that the teachers must also do the mandatory health checks. I am curious- what types of health checks do the teachers have? Do they also have to check for pinworm? Thanks.

  5. giggle…

    My girls attend a Japanese public elementary school and they had to “take” this test last month… Swimming instruction is part of their regular class curriculum and no one is allowed in the pool without having been cleared by this test… I almost fell over laughing when I got the little test stickers (just like the pictures above) and an instruction sheet in English… We figured it out and the girls still laugh about their “butt check” for school…

    I love the fact that the school conducts medical tests. I get the girls regular check-ups but “double checks” sound good to me! We have had checks for sight, hearing, heart-issues, breathing-issues and we even had to take a urine sample home to send back to school in a special mini-bottle.

  6. I work in a Japanese school and such instutionalized health checks are extreamly common and rather comprehensive. I think its great as for some of my students it’s probably the only real health check they get in a year due to fiancial or other constraints on the family. I agree far less however with the mandatory and very public health checks that all the staff at the school are obliged to submit to….

  7. Oh, and I should add that some doctors will opt for the natural treatment, which includes a short term diet of high acidic foods, such as tomato juice, etc. The worms live in the digestive tract, and come out of the hosts rear at night, which is why many people get itchy then. You also have to either get rid of or clean all your bedding and clothing in hot water with bleach.

  8. Pinworm is easily treated. You get 1 pill that you chew and it is supposed to clear it up in a matter of days. Usually, if one child in the household is diagnosed, the entire family is treated, regardless of whether any of them have seen the worms on themselves, or not. My daughter brought it home from school, and our baby son ended up having them too….we were all treated, including my husband who was away at the time. No biggie

  9. I was wondering if I can purchase these tests in a store off post. Also what if a child was found to have pin worm what would the treatment be and who would provide it? Doctors or the school, or is it a home remedie type of cure? Just very curious.

  10. Ah yes, you just brought back some not-so-fond memories Staci. I remember also being confused when Chantal first came home with the dreaded pinworm test, I wonder if I should remind her of them 🙂