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Hikikomori

Japanese shut-ins--kids who never leave their rooms

Interesting.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/15/magazine/15japanese.html?incamp=article_popular_2

I can't imagine not going outside for years at a time. On the other hand, I do go through phases for months where I only go outside to go to work. This annoys the people who love me.
Permalink sharkfish 
January 15th, 2006
LOL!

"In Japan, thousands of boys and young men are retreating to their bedrooms and refusing to come out. Why?"

Duh - "because they can."

Philo
Permalink Philo 
January 15th, 2006
This has been happening for quite some time. The fist time I heard about this was in 1992 and the name then was "Otaku".
Permalink Some Random Dude 
January 15th, 2006
Thanks for the link. Indeed this is the second time this affliction has been around.

More interesting than hikikiomori though is how the japanese as a culture seem to have a lot of weird psychological freak-outs unseen in other cultures that are widespread enough to get their own special fad word. Why is this? Japanese do get on fad bandwagons much more than other cultures - is this just a case of one person doing something really weird and a lot of others deciding the have to conform precisely to his nonconformity?
Permalink Art Wilkins 
January 15th, 2006
God, what a twisted society. And what a glamorous varnish it was hiding under.
Permalink Mr. Powers 
January 15th, 2006
To be fair though, I had a friend in Idaho who sort of did this and he was white. After graduating with his degree in ancient studies or some other useless degree, he moved back in with his mother and did absolutely nothing for 24 months, becoming like a helpless infant (OK, he went to the bathroom on his own). I think he was just burned out with 16 years of academics that resulted in ... nothing. After 24 months he decided that what he really needed was a PhD in some crazy subject no one cares about and nowadays he is a professor. He lives alone and has to buy takeout. He leaves his apartment only to deal with work, which he does with little passion or interest. Typical stuffy college professor, trying to promogulate his own hikkomorish existence.
Permalink Art Wilkins 
January 15th, 2006
"On the other hand, I do go through phases for months where I only go outside to go to work. This annoys the people who love me."

I don't know if it's that, or if your head just doesn't leave the computer screen. ;-P

I was thinking just this week that I have to get out at least once a day "What am I, a shut-in?" I said to myself. Well, I made good on that this past week, even if it isn't much.

I feel for these people, great article! The Japanese are an amazing society. I had a Japanese-German best friend growing up. A wonderous people, deep yet practical and social.
Permalink LinuxOrBust 
January 16th, 2006
I've tended to think that the Japanese are like us British, on the surface very formal (Japan : bowing, strict etiquette Britain : stiff upper lip, reserved) but have a totally wierd under current (Japan : all manner of stuff, Britain : the classic upper class ecentric).

But I think the Japanese take it to an extreme at both ends, any minor social misdemeanour met with suicide or staying in their bedrooms for 2 years.
Permalink Andrew Gilfrin 
January 16th, 2006
Not bad reasoning. The one time I went to London, the thing that stuck with me most is that the Londoners are THE most passive aggressive people I've ever come into contact with.

At the tube, you will be aimed for and run down, even the girls do it. In the hotel, this one bellboy was riding one the elevator with me (no one else there), and I said "hi" a couple times, and he just stared me down like "You dirty, filthy rich Americans, you think you own us.", but I wasn't dressed up even. 

Brits do have that guilt, they will help you out, but sometimes remind you that it's just because it's a social duty of theirs. That's funny because an American will either genuinely be glad to help you, or just give you the finger.

Also, they know when it's an American they have to say "Can I help you?" With their own, you have to yell and make a raquet to get served, customers and shopkeepers both seem to enjoy that.

In the states, everyone is made to feel like "part of the group", but it's more cliquish in London, though London is a very metropolitan area, and that's probably a big part of it. Los Angeles is one the biggest geographical cities on the planet, but it's not metropolitan in feel at all (other than traffic), and people very rarely ever honk their horn in Los Angeles, even when people are zooming in and out all over the place (because most of them do it).
Permalink LinuxOrBust 
January 16th, 2006
Cultural misunderstandings.

Firstly, it's not a British habit to talk to random strangers without reason. Especially not in elevators. The bellboy probably just thought you were weird, not likely any subtext beyond that. Similar in shops too. In large shops and chain stores, people would prefer to be left alone to browse unless they specifically look for assistance.

Getting run down in the tube. You were probably in the way; perhaps you weren't standing on the right? If you were blocking the escalator, I would be running you down too. People have places to go and trains to catch, you know.
Permalink Ian Boys 
January 16th, 2006
Ian-

The practices you described are generally collectively referred to as "being a prick".
Permalink Generic Error 
January 16th, 2006
No, beeing a prick is more like beeing a ignorant American abroad, standing in the way, and babbling about.

My experience in Brittain is that it is very easy to have interesting conversations with strangers once you work on the introduction, wich means, starting polite and non committing, giving the other ample opportunity to disengage gracefully.
Permalink Erik Springelkamp 
January 16th, 2006
Wasn't it you who wrote at some length about having a conversation with a random stranger in a checkout line? Pondering how it is that people in general find that such an odd thing to do?
Permalink Ian Boys 
January 16th, 2006
Oops--I was replying to Mark.
Permalink Ian Boys 
January 16th, 2006
That makes sense, Ian Boys. You even sound like you were there on each occasion.

When they came up from the elevator, I had just bought the tickets, and saw them coming in broad daylight, but they were actually runwalking so fast I could not hop out of the way, and I am very quick to move around people (comes from a split-step before a tennis volley). It's like a 30 ft. wide wall of people all at once.

This sort of thing happened to me few times. Never seen that many people in a gigantic hurry, and this was ten years ago, can't imagine it's any better now.
Permalink LinuxOrBust 
January 16th, 2006

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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