hikikomori 2

Hikikomori, two



isolate withdraw interaction
hermit period (3) phenomenon
iceberg reliable breed/bred/bred
rate (3) refer (2) comparable
inmate so-called apparently
devote enviable lead/led/led (2)
anime random address (2)
retain dreaded in regards
crucial mediate substantial
suicide chronic subject (4)
oddity rebellion admission
elite opponent self-standing
blame weigh (2) dynamic (2)
sort root (2) widespread
basis admit (2) ingredient (2)
shame incidence nicknamed
bully aptitude subsequent
torture literally equivalent
declare translate persecution
occur coin (2) determination
status devotion obedience
ritual stroke (2) subservience
manga initiative outstanding
exceed case (2) tip of the iceberg (2)
loyalty boundary dictate (2)
sum (2) manifest join the ranks
urban scourge exponential
emerge broad (2) exhausting
pace rat race frightened
shelter inevitable seek/sought/sought






In August 2010, the Japanese word hikikomori was added to the Oxford Dictionary of English.

The term refers to those who, refusing the external world, decide to withdraw themselves from every kind of social interaction, remaining isolated in their homes for a period longer than six months.

The phenomenon that started in Japan in the middle of the eighties has bred to become nowadays a serious social scourge. Although it is difficult to get reliable data, it is estimated that today in the country, there are about one million hikikomori, almost one percent of the population.

Similar cases have also been reported in the USA, Taiwan, South Korea, Italy, France, and the UK, but with rates that are not comparable with the country of origin.

There are some cases of hikikomoris that are in their 40s, belonging to the so-called first generation isolated for more than 20 years.

The average self-inmate is a young male person aged between 19 and 30. He will come from a middle-class family, and is interestingly usually the first born or only child.

He leads an apparently enviable lifestyle, devoting most of his time to video games, anime and manga. A person with completely random sleeping patterns who prefers the night hours.

In regards to the dreaded social relations, he prefers those mediated by the internet rather than the direct ones like social networks forums and online gaming.

Given the young age of hikikomori, they usually don’t work or study, but are retained by the family. Some however, work online or play the stock market, even earning substantial sums.

Although Japan is a country with a high suicide rate, and this way of life is often linked to a state of chronic depression, in reality, such incidences among hikikomori are much lower than in the rest of the population.

The reason for this oddity is that often the young inmates feel part of a larger phenomenon or rebellion. Cultural elite opponent to the ground.

The roots of hikikomori are to be found in the complex cultural and social dynamics, and the pressure weighing on Japanese children from the early stage.

Competitiveness in education systems is a main ingredient since the primary school students are sorted on the basis of aptitude tests and subjected to continuous exams and the results are absolutely crucial for subsequent admissions.

The school system is nicknamed by the students themselves: shinken juku, hell examinations. And every failure is experienced as shameful by their families.

In addition, there is a widespread problem of bullying and the Japanese idi amin, literally translated as torture, persecution. Admitting to izumi for a Japanese boy is equivalent for declaring the social failure, but the risk of a further blame.

For those reasons, the first step towards the status of hikikomori is often becoming a futuku, or somebody who refuses to go to school.

In the workplace, the situation doesn’t improve, so the Japanese have coined a single word meaning death due to overwork, karoshi. It normally occurs as heart attack, stroke or suicide.

In Japan, in fact, due to the culture, the employees are tied into a relationship of devotion and loyalty within the company, and long hours of work have become ordinary rituals, and obedience and subservience, especially in large corporations.

The country holds the sad record of an outstanding twenty-eight percent of its employees that exceed fifty hours of work a week.

Hikikomori is therefore not a self-standing problem. It manifests itself as the tip of an iceberg of a much broader crisis of human and social relations that goes beyond national boundaries.

For this reason, despite many initiatives to address the problem, every year, thousands of young people join the ranks of young urban hermits, whose number increases exponentially.

In fact, if Japan, as well as many other countries, do not emerge a clear determination to put an end to the exhausting rat race and profit, and if the pace dictated by production don’t replace that of a human need, it is inevitable that some frightened little mice will occasionally seek shelter, protection within the domestic walls.


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1. The word hikikomori comes from Latin. Is this correct or incorrect? What does it mean? When did it emerge? Is it confined to Japan?

2. What is the profile of the “average” hikikomori? Is it a phase in young males’ lives, and they all outgrow it?

3. How do they preoccupy themselves? What do they do? What don’t they do?

4. Most hikikomoris confine themselves in their rooms because they are depressed. They have psychological disorders. Is this entirely true, mostly true, in the middle, yes and no, largely false or entirely false?

5. Is school life fun and enjoyable for students? Describe it.

6. At companies, employees do employees work in a relaxed, creative, informal environment?

7. Hikikomorism is spreading and becoming more common. Is this right or wrong?

8. Is the report neutral and objective or is it biased and subjective? Is it left or right leaning?

A. I know some people who are hikikomoris or semi-hikikomoris. Yes or no?

B. Why have some or many people become hikikomori?

C. Is hikikomorism good, bad, both good and bad, in the middle, neither, it depends?

D. What will happen in the future?

E. Should hikikomorism be accepted or should people stop being hikikomoris? What are the cures for hikikomorism?

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