Wednesday, 17 February 2010


Like kimonos, sushi and hello kitty ... hikikomori is thing unique to Japan. What I have to tell you might find upsetting, in fact I hope you find it upsetting, it has upset me. Do not worry I am not actually upset but ever since I have heard about this phenomenon it has confused me so much that I truly felt that it should be part of our blog.
Hikikomori or 'the withdrawn' are people who for a host of social reasons choose to live as complete hermits separate from Japanese society. They shut themselves in their bedrooms and do not come out for months and in many cases years. The definition of hikikomori on the Japanese Government site is a person who has not gone outside for a period of over six months. According to psychologist Tamaki Saito, who first coined the phrase, there may be one million hikikomori in Japan representing 20% of all male adolescents in Japan, or 1% of the total Japanese population. Although, the majority of hikiomori are boys there are also many girls. Many begin as students who refuse to go to school and slowly slip into further social isolation.
Now the question is.... what is causing so many young people in Japan to choose this lifestyle? The videos I watched showed shy young men and women who seemed to have considerable problems communicating and did not seem to trust any of the people around them. Many analysts point to the unbelievable pressure students are under in Japanese middle and high schools and in their homes. Pushed to succeed until they flatly refuse and after a time shut out everything and everybody.
So while we in Canada are worried about students dropping out of school, the Japanese parent's worry is their child dropping out of life. Sorry for dire thoughts but this issue or disease (whatever you want to call it) was just so interesting to me that I thought I needed to share it.

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