View Full Version : Hikikomori

Dutch Baka
23-04-05, 19:55
I heard about Hikikomori a couple of years ago for the first time, not knowing the name, not knowing all the effect. just i know some people sit inside there room, and donft come out of it...

i will give some background information after my question:

how can it be, that a parent let her/his son stay in his room for months/years? are they crazy themselves? how is counselling in Japan? ( are there enough ways to get counselling? do people know they can get counselling? ) if u look at the future also in other countries, when pressure is rising for the younger generations ( you need to learn English when you are 4 years old so it would be good for later.. study hard.. get a good degree.... let children be children dammed!!!!!), how would this be in the future? and what would you do when your child/friend/beloved one have this?

what is your opinion about this?

1. Parents?( how can they let there child be in there room for such a long time sometimes)

2.counseling?(how is counseling in japan)

3. future ?( there may be 1 million hikikomori in Japan , how would this be in the future, whould it infect other country's to more then it is now... ?)

4. what would you do?(what would you do, if it was your son/daugther? beloved one, or friend?)

Background information:

What is hikikomori:
Hikikomori (Japanese: Ђ or U) are adolescents and young adults that feel overwhelmed by the Japanese society, feel unable to fulfil their expected social roles, and react with social withdrawal. Hikikomori often refuse to leave their parent's house, and may lock themselves in a single room for months or even years. According to some estimates there may be 1 million hikikomori in Japan, or one out of 10 young men. Most of them are male, and many of them are the eldest son.

reason of widthdrawing:the reasons for withdrawing in the room, house, is mainly pressure.. pressure in the Japanese society schools, work.. look at the hours they work, and they high level they need to get on school from parents. it start on young age sometimes ( as i said you need to learn English ... how can you be a child in this period?? possible?)
another reason is, being bullied (appearance, education, sports etc) this brings shame to the family.

with feeling of pressure from the outside world, they lock them self up in there own room, parents house, other room. they close contact to the outside world, and sleep all day, play games, watch tv, or play computer games.. before the lock themselves up, the lose friends, get shy, become insecure and talk less.

to have hikikomori in the family is a private thing, so not many people get to know about it. the mother most of the time need to take care of it, because dad goes to work and is busy. they wait for the child to come out himself, or seek counselling after a long time. most parents donft know what to do with it. An aggressive approach by the parents forcing the child back into society is usually not taken or only after a considerable waiting period.

the schools and social workers help with it, but leave it to the family itself most time, because its a family thing.

Effects on the hikikomori
by lose of social contact they lose there skills they need. they immerse themselves into fantasy worlds with manga, tv or computer games. As time passes, the hikikomori, lacking interpersonal stimulus, developmentally stagnates into routine behaviours of sleeping all day and staying up all night only to sneak out into the kitchen for food when the family is asleep. Eventually, hikikomori may abandon their diversions of books and TV and simply stare into space for hours at a time.

If the hikikomori finally - often after several years - re-emerges voluntarily or through the aid of a care worker, they must face the problem of lacking social skills and years of education that their peers already posses through normal daily interaction with society. Also making re-entry into society difficult for recovered hikikomori is the recent social stigma that has come to be attached to the condition due to mass media attention since 1998. The fear exists that others will discover their hikikomori past, and so they often feel uncertain around people, especially strangers, in how they should act. Also detrimental is the fact they lack a work history, making anything beyond menial labour jobs difficult to acquire.

Their fear of the social pressure and the inability to effect change in their situation may also turn into frustration or even anger— some hikikomori have even physically attacked their parents, though most of the time anger manifests in others ways such as nightly harassment by banging on walls while the rest of the family sleeps.

This hostility often arises when parents continue to exert pressure on the hikikomori to come out of their rooms after many months of isolation, despite the fact a status quo has been allowed to develop between the parents, usually the mother, and the hikikomori. This status quo occurs because parents passively allow their child to stay withdrawn and has many reasons but mostly centres on an amae relationship between mother and son, the fear and social stigma of the local community knowing the family has a hikikomori, and the simple notion that it is better to have the child in the house even in isolation than as a runaway.

It was initially argued in the mass media when hikikomori came into public spotlight in 2000 that the loss of a social frame of reference might also lead hikikomori to commit violent or criminal behaviours. However, it has been argued by hikikomori experts that etrue hikikomorif are too socially withdrawn and timid to venture outside of their rooms, let alone venture outside the home and attack someone. If hikikomori physically attack anyone, it is usually confined to family members.

Part of the reason that hikikomori gained worldwide attention was the fact that the media attributed a number of high profile crimes to hikikomori. In 2000, a 17 year old labelled as a hikikomori by the press hijacked a bus and killed one passenger. In fact, it was discovered later that the hijacker was originally a hikikomori but his parents didnft know how to deal with him, so they admitted him to a mental hospital for two months of observation. Feeling betrayed by his parents, it was the period in the hospital that disintegrated the boyfs self esteem and made him mentally unstable— the violence during the bus hijacking was directed at his mother by proxy. In the coming days, the media reported other extremely violent cases as perpetrated by hikikomori, such as one man who kidnapped a young girl and held her captive for nine years or a young man who killed 4 girls to re-enact scenes of his hentai manga. As a result of the media spotlight, a great social stigma of hikikomori being violent and mentally ill came to be attached to the condition that exists to this day.

for the last couple of years a hikikomori support industry has sprung up in Japan, each with there own way of handling this. One approach suggests psychological help is needed for these isolated young people as many parents are overwhelmed with the problems of a hikikomori children whom they donft understand. The other approach to hikikomori treatment views the problem as one of socialization rather than mental illness. Instead of clinical treatment in a hospital, the hikikomori is removed from the original environment of the home into a shared living environment and encouraged to reintegrate into social groups through daily activities with other hikikomori who are already in various states of recovery; this approach shows the person that they are not alone in their condition and appears to be successful for most cases.

While there are a growing number of doctors and clinics specialized in helping hikikomori, many hikikomori and their parents still feel a lack of support for their problems on an institutional level and feel that society at large has been slow to react to the hikikomori crisis.

While total social withdrawal seems to be mainly a Japanese phenomenon, there are reports of similar phenomena developing in Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong which possess similar high pressure educational systems. However, youths all over the world experience similar social pressures from peers and adults, are bullied or become depressed, and may react with similar behaviours to hikikomori or even lash out with hate and aggression, such as the extreme cases of the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colorado, United States, or the Erfurt massacre in Erfurt, Germany.

Im looking forward to hear some opinions from some people here. i think this can be a serieus problem for the future....

Greetings Dutch baka ( aka dave..... :wave: )

23-04-05, 22:13
http://www.eupedia.com/forum/search.php?searchid=180526 Search button ;-) !!

Dutch Baka
23-04-05, 22:24
yes sorry rocklee, i forgot to read the search button good. excuse for that.. just i think that are articels ( please read them for the people who want to read more about it... )are or a bit old (good one from 2002) good to start new one about it for the fresh people, and maybe talk about if something changed the last years?

i also just want to give a more background of what it is, and the qeustions
1. Parents?( how can they let there child be in there room for such a long time sometimes)

2.counseling?(how is counseling in japan)

3. future ?( there may be 1 million hikikomori in Japan , how would this be in the future, whould it infect other country's to more then it is now... ?)

4. what would you do?(what would you do, if it was your son/daugther? beloved one, or friend?)

this is why i put it in the serieus area, because its also about the future of our children... again sorry ill use the search button better next time Rocklee, but thanks for the reply, hope you will write something here about what ur opinion is about this

Greetings dutch baka

24-04-05, 00:15
I'm glad you made (even though it already existed) a thread about hikikomori, since I'm very interested in this phenomena. The most interesting thins is that this special state and it's symptoms seem to exist only in Japan, and it's quite common in Japan too...

1. Parents?( how can they let there child be in there room for such a long time sometimes)
This is the one thing I just simply can't understand at all! Why do the parents not kick their hikikomori children out of the house? I mean, I'd gladly sit around all day long playing nothing but TV-games, but I can tell you that my mother would seriously kill me before I ever had the chance to become anything near hikikomori! XD
No, seriously.. I think it's because the relationship between child and parent (mother especially) is very different in Japan than in (as an example) Sweden or other western countries. The mother supports her children fully, and is supposed to offer anything for them. Especially the bond between mothers and their sons seem to be a strong one, where the mother takes care of her son even though he is grown up and in no need of true help.

Maybe the parents of hikikomori are lacking in authority to tell (force) their children to stop being hikikomori. I also believe that the hikikomori thing is a very taboo and shameful thing in Japan, and it's considered bad if you have a hikikomori person in the family. It's kept secret, as a family matter, and actually doing something about the child would maybe start a fuss?

2.counseling?(how is counseling in japan)
I don't understand this question. What is counselling? :?

3. future ?( there may be 1 million hikikomori in Japan , how would this be in the future, whould it infect other country's to more then it is now... ?)
It's certainly a scary number of people being in this state, and I think the number will increase rapidly as society gets more and more stressfull. Since society, and maybe japanese society in particular, brings a lot of pressure on young people - the state of hikikomori is understandable. Not wanting to participate in the everyday-stress of life, the withdrawal from society is a solution. I mean, who hasn't felt as if school was killing you and you wanted to lock youself in forever and do nothing? (Or, is it just me? :lol)
To be 'successfull' and become a lucky person is what most people try and achieve. If they feel they cannot achieve what they think are expected of them, they go into a state of hikikomori. I think.

4. what would you do?(what would you do, if it was your son/daugther? beloved one, or friend?)
I don't know. Hikikomori has been said to be something other than apathy. Apathy, where the person looses hope, sits around and does nothing, doesn't want to do anything, is a state which I think one can be saved from by encourragement and talk. Hikikomori persons are said to sometimes become very aggressive and violent, to the point where they beat their parents or the doctor, or even kill someone. Some hikikomori persons in Japan have made themselves guilty with horrible crimes of violence, when they suddenly left their room and went out on rampage and killed people. Hikikomori people can be said to be very mentally ill. They can be dangerous. I would try to talk with them still...

My own question; Do you feel you could become a hikikomori person if the timing was right? Could you isolate yourself from society in that way? Have you ever felt stressfull in that manner?

Dutch Baka
24-04-05, 00:28
thanks for the reply ( wakra flicka)

about qeustion to i mean psychological counseling, docters, social workers. as i know in my country there are a lot. but how is that in japan? can you go to a docter and he send you to a social worker? or doest it take months, years... ???

in one way i do understand the shame of the familie ( at least if i look at the japanese site) but with my dutch_other countries site,, i think whats more important shame of family? or your child to be healthy?

for myself, i think i think i would be able to see if my child is getting symtoms, i want to learn my child when he is young, that he can talk to me, that talking is important... so i dont think ( HOPE HOPE HOPE...) i will have something like this... but for sure, i wont let him stay in his room longer then 2 days......

Could i isolate yourself from society in that way?
well not for such a long time, of course everybody need there escape from society in life,, to get some fresh air.

im under presure myself, but not this bad.

24-04-05, 00:31
Hikikomori persons are said to sometimes become very aggressive and violent, to the point where they beat their parents or the doctor, or even kill someone. Some hikikomori persons in Japan have made themselves guilty with horrible crimes of violence, when they suddenly left their room and went out on rampage and killed people. Hikikomori people can be said to be very mentally ill. They can be dangerous. I would try to talk with them still...

Just the other day in fact in a park near Osaka the incident of that 17 year old guy going beserk and slamming a four year old in the head with hammer :( was a hikikomori case.@

24-04-05, 01:02
1. Parents?( how can they let there child be in there room for such a long time sometimes)

Often times if Hikikomori is clinical, the parents have psychological symptoms as well. In those cases, the parents don't know what to do, are not authoritative and end up just dismissing their child's problem.

The cases in Elizabeth's post are common, too. The house is all the Hikikomori children have and point their rage toward their parents, and their helpless parents are afraid of them.

2.counseling?(how is counseling in japan)
Counselling in Japan is not as common as the Western countries, or as it should be. I'm not sure how many certified counselors are in Japan, definitely not as many as there are in the states.

3. future?
I didn't know that there were so many Hikikomori in Japan right now. The number might increase in the future, and there will be less people in the street, which could be a good thing in a way because Japan is way overpopulated.

4.what would I do?
I don't think it would happen to me, but if that happened to my loved ones, I would just let them be for a while and try to take them out or something. I don't know if I want them to go those group counselling stuff; they never seem useful to me.

Dutch Baka
14-01-06, 21:52
For some in Japan, a room is their world
By Maggie Jones The New York Times
TOKYO One morning when he was 15, Takeshi shut the door to his bedroom, and for the next four years he did not come out.

He didn't go to school. He didn't have a job. He didn't have friends. Month after month, he spent 23 hours a day in a room no bigger than a king-size mattress, where he ate dumplings, rice and other leftovers that his mother had cooked, watched TV game shows, and listened to Radiohead and Nirvana. "Anything," he said, "that was dark and sounded desperate."
Not long ago, Takeshi finally left his parents' house to join a job-training program called New Start. Wiry, with a delicate face and tousled, dyed auburn hair, he has the intensity of a hungry college freshman. "Don't laugh, but musicians really helped me, especially Radiohead," he said through an interpreter, before scribbling some lyrics in English in a reporter's notebook. "That's what encouraged me to leave my room."

Takeshi was attending one of New Start's three-times-a-week potluck dinners at a community center where the atmosphere was like a school dorm's - a dartboard nailed to the wall over a large dining table, a worn couch and overstuffed chairs in front of a TV blaring a soccer match. About two dozen men lounged on chairs or sat on tatami mats, slurping noodles and soup and talking movies and music. Most were in their 20s. And many had stories very much like Takeshi's.

One was Shirichi, who, like Takeshi, asked that only his first name be used to protect his privacy. He was 20, wore low-slung jeans on his lanky body, has a 1970s Rod Stewart shag and dreams of being a guitarist. Three years ago, he dropped out of high school and became a recluse for a miserable year before a counselor persuaded him to join New Start.

Behind him a young man sat on the couch wearing small wire-frame glasses and a shy smile. After years of being bullied at school and having no friends, Y.S., who asked to be identified only by his initials, retreated to his room at age 14, where he watched TV, surfed the Internet and built model cars - for 13 years. When he finally left his room one April afternoon last year, he had spent half of his life as a shut-in.

Like Takeshi and Kiyohara, Y.S. suffered from a problem known in Japan as hikikomori, which translates as "withdrawal" and refers to a person sequestered in his room for six months or longer with no social life beyond his home. (The word is a noun that describes both the problem and the person suffering from it and is also an adjective, like "alcoholic.")

Some hikikomori do occasionally emerge from their rooms for meals with their parents, late-night runs to convenience stores or, in Takeshi's case, once-a-month trips to buy CDs. And though female hikikomori exist and may be undercounted, experts estimate that about 80 percent of the hikikomori are male, some as young as 13 or 14 and some who live in their rooms for 15 years or more.

South Korea and Taiwan have reported a scattering of hikikomori, and isolated cases may have always existed in Japan. But only in the past decade and only in Japan has hikikomori become a social phenomenon. Like anorexia, which has been largely limited to Western cultures, hikikomori is a culturebound syndrome that thrives in one particular country during a particular moment in its history.

As the problem has become more widespread in Japan, an industry has sprung up around it. There are support groups for parents, psychologists who specialize in it (including one who counsels shut-ins via the Internet) and several halfway programs like New Start, offering dorms and job training. For all the attention, though, hikikomori remains confounding.

The Japanese public has blamed everything from smothering mothers to absent, overworked fathers, from school bullying to the lackluster economy, from academic pressure to video games. "I sometimes wonder whether or not I understand this issue," confessed Shinako Tsuchiya, a member of Parliament, one afternoon in her Tokyo office. She has led a study group on hikikomori, but most of her colleagues aren't interested, and the government has yet to allocate funds. "They don't understand how serious it is."
That may be in part because the scope of the problem is frustratingly elusive. A leading psychiatrist claims that one million Japanese are hikikomori, which, if true, translates into roughly 1 percent of the population. Even other experts' more assertive estimates, ranging between 100,000 and 320,000 sufferers, are alarming, given how dire the consequences may be. As a hikikomori ages, the odds that he'll re-enter the world decline. Indeed, some experts predict that most hikikomori who are withdrawn for a year or more may never fully recover. That means that even if they emerge from their rooms, they either won't get a full-time job or won't be involved in a long-term relationship.

And some will never leave home. In many cases, their parents are now approaching retirement, and once they die, the fate of the shut-ins - whose social and work skills, if they ever existed, will have atrophied - is an open question.

That isn't a problem just for the hikikomori and their families but also for a country that has been struggling with a sagging economy, a plummeting birth rate and what has been called a youth crisis. The rate of "school refusal" (children who skip school for one month or more a year, which is sometimes a precursor to hikikomori) has doubled since 1990. And along with hikikomori sufferers, hundreds of thousands of other young men and women are neither working nor in school. After 15 years of sluggish growth, the full-time salaryman jobs of the previous generation have withered, and in their places are often part-time jobs or no jobs and a sense of hopelessness among many Japanese about the future.

In addition to the economy, Japanese culture and sex roles play a strong part in the hikikomori phenomenon. "Men start to feel the pressure in junior high school, and their success is largely defined in a couple of years," said James Roberson, a cultural anthropologist at Tokyo Jogakkan College and an editor of "Men and Masculinities in Contemporary Japan." "Hikikomori is a resistance to that pressure. Some of them are saying: 'To hell with it. I don't like it and I don't do well."'

Also, this is a society where kids can drop out. In Japan, children commonly live with their parents into their 20s, and despite the economic downturn, plenty of parents can afford to support their children indefinitely - and do.
One result is a new underclass of young men who cannot or will not join the full-time working world. "We used to believe everyone was equal," said Noki Futagami, the founder of New Start. "But the gap is growing. I suspect there will be a bipolarization of this society. There will be the group of people who can be in the global world. And then there will be others, like the hikikomori. The ones who cannot be in that world."

Dr. Tamaki Saito, who has treated more than 1,000 hikikomori patients, views the problem as largely a family and social disease, caused in part by the interdependence of Japanese parents and children and the pressure on boys, eldest sons in particular, to excel in academics and the corporate world.
Many hikikomori also describe miserable school years when they did not, or could not, conform to the norm. They were bullied for being too fat or too shy or even for being better than everyone else at sports or music. As the Japanese saying goes, "The nail that sticks out gets hammered in."
In other societies the response from many youths would be different. If they didn't fit into the mainstream, they might join a gang or become a Goth or be part of some other subculture. But in Japan, where uniformity is still prized and reputations and outward appearances are paramount, rebellion comes in muted forms. Any urge a hikikomori might have to venture into the world to have a romantic relationship or sex, for instance, is overridden by his self-loathing and the need to shut his door so that his failures, real or perceived, will be cloaked from the world.

One Friday afternoon not long ago, Yoshimi Kawakami waited at a doorstep near Kyoto, expecting to be stood up. It has happened in the snow in Tokyo and in the heat of Kyoto summer afternoons. She has waited for two hours or more, fueled by the hope that - this time - someone will answer.

It is part of being a "rental sister," as the outreach counselors are known at New Start. Rental sisters are often a hikikomori's first point of contact and his route back to the outside world. (There are a few rental brothers, too, but "women are softer, and hikikomori respond better to them," one counselor said.)
The relationship usually begins after a parent telephones New Start and arranges for consultation and routine visits from a rental sister, which costs about $8,000 a year. The rental sister then writes a letter to the hikikomori, introducing herself and the program. When Kawakami arrived at the home of Y.S. in Chibe, near Tokyo, for the first time, he opened his bedroom door long enough to tell her, "Please, go home."

It was a typical first meeting. "We'll just talk through the door," Kumi Hashizume, a counselor at New Start, said. "And tell them our interests and hobbies. Very rarely do we get any words back. And if they do speak, it's very stressed." Months can go by before a hikikomori opens his door and more months before he ventures out with a rental sister to the park or to the movies. The goal is that eventually he will enroll in New Start and live in the program's dorms and participate in its job-training programs at a day-care center, a coffee shop and a restaurant.

Takeshi, the Radiohead fan, who works in New Start's coffee shop, offered to show a reporter his dorm room, a few blocks away in a low-slung concrete building with linoleum floors. The bedroom was no bigger than 8 feet by 8 feet, or 2.4 meters by 2.4 meters, and decorated with little more than a single-bed futon, CDs and a guitar.

After Takeshi spent four years in his childhood bedroom, he was finally motivated to leave, he said, by his frustration with himself and by the Radiohead lyrics: "This is my final fit, my final bellyache." Then he said: "It's not hopeful, but I learned that the world is not such a good place, and regardless we have to move on. That caught my heart."

He re-enrolled in high school, and on that first day out, his skin was pale from being inside for so long; he didn't shave or brush his teeth; his pants and white T-shirt were dirty. "I'd forgotten all the basic rules." None of the students talked to him, a pattern that would more or less continue for the next two years. It wasn't until he graduated and found a job cleaning offices where his co-workers were in their 50s and 60s - "These people were adults and didn't have a bias about me and my background" - that he had conversations again. Still, when he wasn't at work, he was home, where his mother was worried enough that she eventually called New Start. And after meeting a rental sister once, he joined the program.

Asked what he wanted to do once he leaves New Start, Takeshi replied, "You might find it silly, but I'd like to do something with TV variety shows." He added, "I'd like to be a scriptwriter." He also wants to enroll in a university. "But there are idealistic dreams," he said, "and then there's reality." Neither plan seemed particularly far-fetched. "You think so?" he said. "I don't know. It might be too late for me." He is 23 years old.