July 7, 2015

Why a Million Japanese People have Locked Themselves in their Rooms Today.


The Japanese have called it hikikomori, which means “withdrawn.”

The increasing social and academic pressure on Japanese young adults has led them to be paralyzed in their rooms.

One example, via ABC news:

“For nearly three years, Yuto Onishi’s world was his small bedroom in Tokyo. He slept during the day and lived at night, trawling the internet and reading manga—Japanese comics. Mr. Onishi, now 18, refused all contact with friends and family, sneaking out only in the dead of night to eat.”

Mr. Onishi is one of more than a million people in Japan who has locked himself in his room and won’t come out.

The worldwide media is labeling it a health concern. Berkeley called it “Japan’s nervous breakdown.” Indeed, confining oneself to her room is a famous physical manifestation of anxiety. And psychiatrists across the nation are treating it as such.

But hikikomori is also a rebellion. The relentless pressure on Japanese youth, particularly young men, has backfired. Ironically, locked in their bedrooms they’re more free than they’ve ever been. Though their lives are still dominated by screens, their ability to choose when they sleep, eat and what they do is unknown to many Japanese youth.

The condition is nevertheless ridden with anxiety and wrecking havoc on the Japanese economy.

To address it, one company operating in Nagoya could be hired by parents to “burst into their children’s rooms, give them a big dressing down, and forcibly drag them away to a dormitory to learn the error of their ways.” Other kinder methods include ibasho, which is a safe place to reintroduce oneself to society (BBC News).

But these are both short-term, non-preventative solutions. One hopes that Japan will treat the cause of this condition, not just the symptoms.



Author: Caroline Beaton

Photo: Flickr



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