Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Hikikomori: Shutting Out the Sun


Hikikomori (one who shuts himself away and becomes socially withdrawn, from the words hiku or "pull," and komoru, or "retire") is the word for a Japanese phenomenon of young people, mostly men (80% of hikikomori are male, numbering over 1 million), who lock themselves in their rooms for years in an attempt to escape from Japanese society's rigid rules and expectations. I have 3 students who were, or have become hikikomori, and I have wanted to write about it many times.

If you are at all interested in learning more about Hikikomori or the other problems facing modern Japan, please listen to this interview on NPR with Micheal Zielenziger, author of the new book Blocking Out The Sun: How Japan Created Its Own Lost Generation. I have not read the book, but listening to the interview I heard myself trying to explain the darker side of polished and pretty, seemingly perfect Japan to visiting friends, family, and other foreigners I have met in my travels. If you have any insight or experience in these matters, please share the wisdom. I hope to write more about my own experiences soon...

6 comments:

Vernon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I have just taken my own candle out from under the bushel. Posted, sucka. read it and weep.

Oh, and get the new Blogger already.

***Matsumoto or Bust***

Ian said...

Thanks, interesting reading/listening. It's been sad seeing the joy/spark get squeezed out of some of the kids I teach in the space of a year as they go from shogakko to chugakko. I worry about some. I've heard that a lot of homeless men in Japan are similar to hikikomori in that they are salarymen who just reach the end of their tether and pack up their lives. They are certainly different from those in Australia, where alcohol, drugs, gambling and mental disorders often put them on the street. If they were young enough to have supporting parents, I'd guess they'd also be hikikomori.

Ian said...

Sorry, that last "they" was in reference to Japan's homeless men.

Melissa said...

Ian! Hello! I`ve tried to leave comments on your blog a billion times, but it never lets me. Whats up with that yo? (^-^)

Ian said...

honto ni!? I'm chuffed, Melissa, thanks a lot! Ok, I'll look into it. No comments for a long time... I figured I just smell or something.