What is Hikikomori?

Hikikomori is a social phenomenon affecting people of all ages in Japan, where individuals withdraw from society and remain isolated for extended periods.

Origins and Definition of Hikikomori

The term Hikikomori was coined in the 1990s in Japan to describe the phenomenon of social withdrawal. Hikikomori is not a clinical diagnosis but rather a social issue that affects individuals who choose to isolate themselves from society due to various reasons, including social anxiety, depression, academic pressure, and bullying.

Prevalence of Hikikomori in Japan

Hikikomori is a widespread issue in Japan, with an estimated 1.5 million working-age people living in isolation. Typically, people with Hikikomori withdraw from society for a period of six months or longer, with the most common reasons being unemployment, depression, academic pressure, and bullying in school or the workplace.

Filial Piety and Japan’s Work Culture

Filial piety, the respect for one’s parents and elders, is an essential part of Japanese culture. Children often feel a sense of obligation to care for their parents in old age, which can cause feelings of guilt and anxiety. Additionally, Japan’s work culture is intense and all-consuming, with long working hours, high levels of stress, and limited opportunities for career advancement. The combination of these factors can contribute to the prevalence of Hikikomori among individuals who feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with societal pressures.

Consequences of Hikikomori

The consequences of Hikikomori are significant and far-reaching. Social isolation can lead to a lack of employment opportunities, financial hardship, and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety disorders. Moreover, the longer an individual remains in isolation, the harder it becomes to reintegrate into society.

Addressing Hikikomori in Japan

The Japanese government has recognized the severity of Hikikomori and has implemented various initiatives to address this issue. These include counseling services, support groups, and financial assistance for individuals and families affected by Hikikomori. While progress has been made, addressing Hikikomori remains a complex and ongoing issue.




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