Many reasons to become a 'hikikomori' social recluse


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Far too often it comes down to that foolish kotowaza.... "The Nail that sticks out soon get pounded in". Which is total BS. If gives bullies even more reason to bully... and it gives work bullies even more reason to bully. It adds unwanted social pressure. If you're "different" in Japan, you get beat up for it. I've live in Japan for many years.... and a few have tried to bully me too. It didn't work... I bullied them back and I didn't take one bit of crap. Easier said than done of course.... especially if you're Japanese.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

My local supermarket used to a meeting place for these people but they banned alcohol. Don’t see them anymore. Met two recently, they told me they have nowhere to go so they just stay home.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

And people wonder where Aum ever found recruits.

10 ( +15 / -5 )

I think to understand individual behaviors we have to move away from strong notions of free will, that Sartre-ian sense of ‘I am my choices'. Jung described himself as a ‘psychic process over which he had very little control; only partly directed’. 

Many neuroscientists claim that we’re each, just like other animals, even plants, assortments of genetically determined, bio-chemical (organic, carbon based) algorithms that are affected by surrounding social, cultural, and environmental algorithms. 

Do people who stay in their rooms 'freely' choose to hide away and avoid social involvement? Or are they ‘victims’ of genes and algorithms? I lean more toward the latter. 

'Free willing' their way back into society might not be enough for many. Particularly when so few support services are available to help them. 

Anyone who’s spent time around those diagnosed to be along the autistic spectrum, around those psychologically or developmentally disabled, should understand that ‘free will’ can vary from person to person.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

"Do as you are ordered or be ostracised!" That's Japanese culture in a tea cup. After many years of teaching in high schools and colleges I've seen this happen to so many bright individuals. Many are very talented and unique young people, but by the time they finish high school, any creativity and individualism has been driven out of them to prepare them for a life of servitude in Japan Inc. Of course, this kind of pressure leads to social disorders and apathy in the youth, which is carried through to adulthood.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Uninspired they are. It’s not for lack of stimuli in society, I dare say we have too many. Value system is shot. Where are the internal values our young growing up with? They’re empty inside. This hikikomori problem is for sure not going to go away. Education is not about raising quality people but about making consumers and people who can produce; i.e., economic. Any surprise young are lost?

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I came home one day from work and there was a brand-new kei car parked in the drive way. I said to my ex-wife "didn't know we could afford a new car " I became a hikikomori and gave up my job until i could figure a way out of my marriage. Hell no I was not paying for a car having slept in the other bedroom for six months.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

When you don’t nip problems in the bud, and you ignore things that need obvious attention , then they can fester for an entire lifetime and destroy you. Really feel for this people , hope they find a bit of guidance and connection. Another reason why self expression and communication is as essential to a meaningful life as oxygen. Every single day is a new chance though....

8 ( +10 / -2 )

@Cosmos1 - Hell no I was not paying for a car having slept in the other bedroom for six months.

Only six months? It was nine years of living in a seperate bedroom before I threw in the towel - because of my kids. I too became hikikomori due to handing over my pay check and being a live-in babysitter for the Red Queen.

Teens these days definitely have a different set of values to 40 odd years ago when I was a teen. Teens these days have a strong sense of entitlement. They are quite prepared to sit around and wait for everything to be given to them because 'they are entitled'. When I was their age you had to get up off your butt and do something or get nothing and, become nothing. I often ask the high school seniors what they want to do in the future and the most common answer is, "I want to be a salaryman." which equates to, "I want to be a grown up parasite and take a pay check." There is very little ambition in today's teens. This problem is not specific to Japan although, it is very clear in Japan. This leads to this hikikomori scenario because these little brats just give up if they don't get what they want. They just become video game playing, manga reading parasites waiting for their entitlements to be dished out.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

"and you ignore things that need obvious attention" but this is ingrained in the deepest recess of Japanese culture.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

A cabinet survey found that while the cases of people shutting themselves in their homes fell from about 696,000 in 2010 to around 541,000 in 2015, the ratio of those who have been isolated from society for seven years or more reached its highest ever level of 34.7 percent. While studies had been limited to younger age brackets, Japan has seen a rise in the number of middle-aged hikikomori in recent years.

Highest level of those surveyed? In cases like these demographics and more information would be appreciated as to how the survey was taken.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The woman says her own bad marriage might have influenced her daughter's behavior but she does not blame herself since she did her best to raise her. Now her daughter is thinking of studying architecture at another university.

"As long as she has a standard for how she lives her life I'm not sure there is anything wrong with shutting herself in. I believe in my daughter," the woman says before briskly walking off.

I like the sound of this woman and suspect that her daughter will turn out fine.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

School and "traditional" work isn't for everyone. There are many homeschooling and unschooling communities worldwide and in Japan itself. The problem with these hikkikomori and NEET's is the support for pursuing their own education and career goals. Some people don't want to be apart of the "machine" that drives the drones of daily life. However, if their parents or guardians had the wherewithal and knowledge to notice that, they could have easily supported them in their pursuits.

The best knowledge is that gained by oneself, not forced upon. Who knows what some of these people could have become if they had the support of their parents and society.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

I used to be a hikikomori for 7 months after graduating from college. I just got depressed on how harsh the working world is, spending your waking hours at work, commuting to and from work, getting stuck in traffic and only having me time on weekends, not to mention the lack of work-life balance. Whenever I look back at that time and read news like this, I can relate to these guys, wish I could help them. Sometimes you just need a kick in that pants to get you out the door or just have enough motivation to change.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Even people who have careers, families and are considered well-adjusted are psychologically exhaused by the fraught nature of interpersonal and workplace relationships, and seek to withdraw at the earliest opportunity. A lifetime of walking on eggshells for fear of transgressing the unwritten law and unintentionally giving offense to a customer, a colleague or superior clearly takes a heavy toll. The fact that there is very little satisfaction derived from work, and that stable jobs are reserved for those who complete university (which in no way qualifies them for such jobs) exacerbates the problem. Studies of workplace disaffection and disengagement regularly show Japanese workers to be at the topof the list. Maybe the hikkikomori just see what the rest of society doesn't want to admit, and refuse to get involved in it.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

I think a few posters here, like me, used to live in big cities with active social lives. Then as you become older you realize people suck, politicians suck, jobs suck and lining up sucks. So we move to the countryside.

this is fine. But when children start to make this decision without experiencing life, it is depressing.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

expat - you described the situation of my Japanese wife there perfectly there!

Toshihiro - interesting post. What got you out of your hikikomori state?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

japanese social recluse american mass shooter

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I would have been a hikikomori but I actually had to pay my rent! Put these freeloaders out and they will find a way...

I have the unfortunate situation of trying to make my oldest son tougher, asking him to work part time to pay part of his university fees, but the JP wife undermines me, passes money behind my back to him, and when confronted lets the crocodile tears stream. I am not asking anyone to do anything I didn't do myself, but they fail to realize that.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Exactly Reckless, I was just reading this thinking if these people offer nothing to society, why should they benefit from it?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Very interesting article and responses. While I was reading this I was thinking of people I've known in Australia who would certainly be classified as hikikomori if the term existed here. Instead they're just dismissed as lazy b-s. It's not a uniquely Japanese phenomenon, it seems to me - so why is it that it seems to have become so identified with Japan? Is it simply the scale of it? Because it's even more at odds with the prevailing work-till-you-drop culture than it would be in another society? Maybe because the Japanese were the first to actually give it a name, like any other behavioural syndrome?

Interestingly, I read that suicide rates among hikikomori are relatively low.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

There are so many hikkikomori because you can be one in Japan - IF you have a place to stay.

They stay home in a room in a place where the parents pay the rent/mortgage and the mother usually brings them their food.

Often things just aren’t they way they want them to be. From not having great friends, to their job not being as great as they thought, to study being harder.

For the last few years I’d love to be one. But I can’t.

And the problem facing many is that some of these kids started staying home in the bubble era and now their mother isn’t able to cook, or the family finances are drying up.

So - the recent family killings will increase - just watch.

The quote below leads to another point for which I’ll be attacked, but I’ve talked with a lot of hikkikomori over decades.

Very few have good relationships with a father. Either he’s working so hard he never could influence the child - who then gets indulged by a mother who does everything for them, or in many cases after divorce he is totally cut off from the child.

So in in the case below there is no way of being sure, but often the mother will refuse contact with the father whether he’s paying support or not. The child may have even told the family court under duress that they don’t want to see him. Then later the resentment comes which can last decades.

The answers? 1. Good relationships with parents. 2. Realizing you don’t have to be perfect, you can come back after mistakes and failures, and also realizing ideal job positions and titles aren’t everything. Eg If you get into a name college and get a job in a name company, you can still have a lot of fun and have good times with family and friends.

There are many hikkikomori who would rather have it said that they are mentally ill and had to drop out, then be in second and third rate jobs. In other words, most Japanese need to care less about what others think and say about them.

The woman says her own bad marriage might have influenced her daughter's behavior but she does not blame herself since she did her best to raise her.


-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Coming from a very different cultural background I find it hard to understand this phenomonen, I have a comfortable home which I normally have no problem spending time in, but recently due to an operation my mobility has been very limited and I am already starting to chew the furniture!!

Yes some times tough love is needed, if every thing is provided for them and they are indulged in their wants then why should they exert them selves?

Other cases may have more deep rooted problems that need help and support getting over.

Saiko, I agree, my reaction also would not be to quietly submit (and hasn’t been when it happened) but we come from a very different individualistic cultural background which has given us the freedom and individual strength to so react.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@BigYen - Interestingly, I read that suicide rates among hikikomori are relatively low.

I don't find this surprising at all. It's quite fitting actually. They are too lazy to take their own lives and sit around waiting for their entitlements and empathy from their family and friends.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

My bro was a hikikomori and a violent one. my mother was too afraid to have a confrontation with him thus she ended up enabling him. Fortunately, he got out of the nest at the age of 27, ugh.

It’s a sickness that needs to be cured. They’re ticking timebombs. It’s either they hurt themselves or hurt another.

almost all rampage killers in this country are recluses.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@cucashopboy - all I knew was I wanted to go to Japan badly and being holed up in your room won't get you any closer. So I grabbed the first job I was offered that probably got the ball rolling for me.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Toshihiro - good for you. Hope everything worked out.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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