Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hikkomori: Japan's reclusive youth

When Japan's economic bubble burst, it had a severe depressing effect on some young people who isolated themeselves by locking in their rooms and separating from their own families and friends.

The Japanese term for this social problem is hikikomori , a term that refers to young people who shut-in and who withdraw from society, preferring to stay in their rooms and refusing to leave the house for months at a time or sometimes years.

This strange phenomenon is becoming more and more prevalent in countries like Japan and South Korea, aided by the growth of the Internet and vibrant all-online communities. This has become such a big psychological and cultural problem, it is causing national concern.

This problem of introverted behaviour suggests that a segment of the Japanese youth are putting their real-life work in jeopardy by not adopting a balanced lifestyle and getting addicted to watching the anime stuff all the time.

Although this issue is affecting a minority of the youth, it is a cause for concern as Japan is a society with strong conformist traditions. Perhaps, a younger generation is moving away from the beaten path, being influenced by the internet and the ever changing lifestyles.

According to estimates by Japan's leading hikkomori psychiatrist Tamaki Saito, who first coined the phrase, there may be one million hikikomori in Japan, twenty percent of all male adolescents in Japan, or one percent of the total Japanese population.

Surveys done by the Japanese Ministry of Health as well as research done by health care experts suggest an estimate between 500,000 and 1,000,000 hikikomori in Japan today.

Dr Tamaki Saito, believes the cause of the problem lies within Japanese history and society. Traditional poetry and music often celebrate the nobility of solitude.

Great changes in a country's social structure have always caused stresses. These, in turn, can create new forms of neurosis.


Anonymous said...

ello there>... Im a filipino and I think my brother is suffering from Hikkomori syndrome..He is now 34 years old and Hes the you think he will still recover from his illness or will he still go lurking the darkside of the world?? Anyway I could only say that not only japan is suffering from hikkomori but also here in the philippines...i need advise cvould anyone email me at for anyadvise or suggestions on how to help himm..

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine is becoming a hikikomori, now he's always in his room, and he never goes out, unless we force him LOL

I'm from Portugal, btw :)