Hikikomori (ひきこもり – 引き篭り) is a Japanese term used to refer to the social isolation that many young Japanese suffer because they are afraid to start living by themselves in the real world. The ones who suffer this syndrome stay at home and spend their time sleeping, watching TV, playing video games and surfing the Internet. Usually they are adolescents who are worried about the high adult competitiveness in Japanese society, they refuse to become adults, stop studying and “decide” to isolate themselves at home.
This phenomenon was first identified in Japan, but it’s spreading to other societies where high competitiveness rules the system like Korea. Korea is a country where everyone “fights” in order to be accepted in the best universities, and once you enter in a good university your life is solved because you will be hired by a “good” company when you graduate. Psychologists studying the “hikikomori” phenomenon blame “super-capitalism” and a extreme meritocratic education system as the root of the problem. But why there are not “hikikomori” in the USA? Maybe because there is an excess of amae in Japan, would a family in the USA pamper their children to stay at home 24 hours a day during months? I don’t think so.
I’ve met Japanese and also not Japanese 😉 who really like to be at home, are not very social, spend 90% of their weekends at home and don’t do anything but watching movies during holidays. But that’s not ‘hikikomori’, that’s just being antisocial; to be considered as ‘hikikomori’ syndrome it has to be ALL THE time at home during months and even years. Having a ‘hikikomori’ in your family is not well seen, is like having some kind of curse and neighbors usually talk about it.
Better than my “blahblahblah” if you are really interested in ‘hikikomori’ you should watch Tamago, is a movie about a hikikomori’s life and his parents shame. If you are a Densha Otoko fan one of the protagonists friends is a hikikomori, and in Ikebukuro West Gate Park one of the protagonist’s brother is recovering from a hikikomori problem. By the way, if you have never seen Ikebukuro West Gate Park you should, is not about hikikomori 😉
Hikikomoris problem is real, but is VERY EXAGGERATED by the media. A psychologist called Tamaki Saito said that there are more than one million hikikomoris in Japan (Everyone was alarmed when this number was made public and it became world news). But Tamaki Saito confessed afterwards that he just made the number to call everyone’s attention about the problem, there are ‘only’ thousands of hikikomoris in Japan.