What Is Hikikomori?

Hikikomori means closing in Japanese. It’s used for adolescents or adults who withdraw from society and seek extreme degrees of isolation.This problem became a national problem in Japan. It affected 800,000 people in Japan according to 2019 data.
According to the Japanese government census, 540,000 people between the ages of 15 and 39 experienced this problem in 2016. (Source) However, mental health and treatment in Japan is seen as a serious weakness. Instead of treatment, they find a temporary solution called folding.

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29-year-old Fuminori has locked herself in her room for a year. In fact, Fuminori Akoa says that he has done well, but explains that he cannot do the best. This has seriously reduced self-confidence. Photo: Maika Elan Photo Source: witness.worldpressphoto.org

Almost all of the inhabitants of Hikikomori are male. They do not work in a job, do not go to school, do not establish a social relationship with the outside world. (outside the internet). They often contact with their families, even reluctantly, and often rarely. The majority closes itself in the room. Very few of them only come out at night (only to meet the needs of the inhabitants).
It’s like they’re mad at the world.

Between the ages of 35-49, the number of men who have this problem increases day by day. In this video, “Kazuo Okada” is a patient with this condition.

Hikikomori Disease

This disease is usually seen in Japanese men between the ages of 15-30. These people isolate themselves from society as a result of any failure, social pressure and bullying. These people close or lock themselves in a room or a house. Hikikomori is the name given to this closure behavior.

Usually, this problem disappears within a few days. But sometimes it is long-term. They read books in the room, spend time on the internet, play games. Time is very important for this diagnosis. When there is more than 6 months of Hikikomori diagnosis is made. In some cases, this period has been 20-30 years. In recent years, this problem is observed in men between the ages of 35-40. On Japanese TV channels you can see the news that there are people with hikikomori who are 20 years old

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Riki Cook, 30, has an American father and a Japanese mother. His family lives mainly in Hawaii while he lives alone in Japan. “Riki always tries to be outstanding,” writes Elan, but has a fear of making mistakes. Photo: Maika Elan

According to the Japan state Hikikomori Criteria and Diagnosis;
  • Going to school and not going to work.
  • Difficultly interacting with people outside family members.
  • And these are going on for at least 6 months.
  • Clearly and permanently avoid social situations and social relations.
  • No physical or mental impact to explain the symptoms of social withdrawal.
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Sumito Yokoyama in his room in the city of Chiba in Japan in 2016. He was found dead in her home in September 2017, a year after taking this photo. His family was dead two months after she died. He had no serious illness, but was constantly tired.
Photo: Maika Elan

From time to time, we encounter people who are isolated from the world, for example (Genie). Examples of this are frequently seen in the cinema screen. In the (Room), the life of the mother and child who live in a closed room is the subject of life. (Oldboy), the screenwriter takes up the issue in a more fantastic way, an office worker remains mysteriously locked in a room for more than 15 years.

From time to time, we encounter people who are isolated from the world, for example (Genie). Examples of this are frequently seen in the cinema screen. In the (Room), the life of the mother and child who live in a closed room is the subject of life. (Oldboy), the screenwriter takes up the issue in a more fantastic way, an office worker remains mysteriously locked in a room for more than 15 years.

He is released after 15 years. However, his mental health is deteriorated and he wants to punish those responsible. As a result, people living in isolated ways from the outside world often go crazy and cannot adapt to the outside world when they are released. Similarly, prisons exist for the punishment of crimes committed by humans. But why does a person shut himself up consciously and willingly in his room? He lives for years in this way, abstracts from the outside world and his own will.

A big problem for Hikikomori Japan !!

This behavior of consciously closing itself is a very serious problem for Japan. These young people do not finish their education, do not work, look for work, do not participate in a social activity. These young people are living with their parents’ income or pension. They don’t pay taxes, they don’t pay for health insurance. As a result, these young people;
For the Japanese government, each year it costs about 1.680 billion yen ($ 15,456 million). ( Source)

Why Did Hikikomori Became a thing? What are the reasons?

First of all, Hikikomori is not a formal disease. However, it is known that the Japanese culture has a significant impact on this problem affecting hundreds of thousands of people.
Most psychologists and psychotherapists agree that this problem is linked to the Japanese social belief.(sekentei)

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Ikuo Nakamura is 34 years old and has been hikikomori for 7 years. He thinks life is unfair. He locked herself in her room for arguing with teachers and her friends in college.

So what is the “sekentei?”

For centuries, Japanese culture has established loyalty in their social structure. So, your reputation in the community and your ability to influence others depend on the secular belief.

Japan, which has created a country from scratch after the second world war, has entered into one of the strongest economies in the world in a very short time. (1950 – 1970) They worked with all their powers to achieve this. However, in 1980, Japan entered an economic recession. The generations that were raised during this period understood that their parents could never achieve success. But her parents still expect them to create a better future. This idea of ​​secularism is the result of continuous work and the belief result in development and progress.

The next generation will remain in the shadow of this success. Most Japanese young people accept this pressure at various levels and continue their lives by struggling and there are too many Japanese young people who have been crushed under this pressure and have failed. When these young people feel unsuccessful, they isolate themselves from society. They feel more unsuccessful and consequently punish themselves. There is a saying, Either, Either Ever !!

what is hikikomori?
What Is Hikikomori? Source photo: americanhikikomorifilm

In a sense, this also applies to the person who is Morbidly obese. They eat alot because of anxiety and stress. They gain more weight. The more weight they gain the less admiration they get from society. And it causes more stress and anxiety. As a result this continues in a vicious circle.

Dependent relationship between Japanese Mother And Son have problems !!

The only reason for Hikikomori is not the success of the Japanese. One of the most important reasons is the relationship between mother and son. In Japan there is a very dependent relationship, especially among the eldest son and mother. The mother shows deep respect and compassion for the boy. This bond is so strong that in the following years the child continues even when he is 30 years old. Yes every mother loves,cares and protects her son but that also causes a dependence. It also causes the boy to be weaker and more vulnerable in society. The boy has been more sensitive, and if he does not fulfill his wishes, he can be more violent.

This unhealthy mother-to-son relationship ensures that the child will always take care of his mother. The reason why mother shows such a unconditional love to her son is because of society and it comes from a hundred years of tradition.

This unhealthy relationship between the mother and the child may have reduced the child’s resistance to pressure. The boy has given up instead of fighting all these. He accepts defeat, has no expectation from life and just wants to linger. To linger until death. However, it will often fail to accept how unrealistic this life is.

“Amae”is a Japanese concept/word to describe people’s behavior when you desire to be loved, you desire someone to take care of you, when you want unconsciously to be depending on another person . You can often hear this term in articles about Hikikomori. This unhealthy behaviour starts from a very young age, it is necessary to fix this situation. Even though it’s the son’s problem it is primarily the mother’s duty to have this awareness.

Japan Interviews What Is Hikikomori?

It is also remarkable that there are many incest examples in porn and anime films in Japan.


Although Hikikomori seems to be a problem of the Japanese society, it is actually a disease and needs to be treated. It is known that young people have closed themselves in their rooms and they have big problems in the method and application of treatment because they refuse to connect with them.

Today, non-profit organizations like newstart-jimu are working for the solution of the Hikikomori problem. In this case, “rented sisters” who contacted the outside way to reach these people. We discussed this subject in detail in the topic “A different solution to the problem of Hikikomori”.

You can find more information about mental disorders from here.

Last Updated on October 10, 2020 by Marilyn Walker

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I am studying in Florida about Dialectic Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I'm doing research on Neuro-Emotional Technique (NET), Cognitive psychology, Metacognitive Therapy.

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Comments (2)

  1. Girl, no offense, but your articles are awfully written. If you’re not a native speaker (which neither am I) you should definitely get someone to proofread them. I have a hard time finding out what you are even trying to say.

    • 1 year ago

      Hey Emma,
      Thanks for the feedback. As you mentioned, some of the articles need adjustment but I want you to know that we’re working on it.

      Have a good day,

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