Here it is. This is what started it all…
This is the first English translation of the Japanese best-seller by author/ psychologist Saito Tamaki, first published back in 1998.
Tamaki is the first person to coin the name, “Hikikomori.”
Our film, American Hikikomori, is about a Japanese teenager who comes to America and becomes a hikikomori because he has problems assimilating to American culture. Most of my research for our story was done through talking to Japanese friends who have experience this phenomenon or known of some one who has, in addition to what I could dig up on my own.
When I discovered Tamaki’s book (a year and a half ago), I quickly found myself frustrated because there were no English translations available.
Thanks to my better half, who found it in a book local store, I have some reading to do.
Get yours here.
This is the first English translation of a controversial Japanese best seller that made the public aware of the social problem ofhikikomori, or “withdrawal”—a phenomenon estimated by the author to involve as many as one million Japanese adolescents and young adults who have withdrawn from society, retreating to their rooms for months or years and severing almost all ties to the outside world. Saitō Tamaki’s work of popular psychology provoked a national debate about the causes and extent of the condition.
Since Hikikomori was published in Japan in 1998, the problem of social withdrawal has increasingly been recognized as an international one, and this translation promises to bring much-needed attention to the issue in the English-speaking world. According to the New York Times, “As a hikikomori ages, the odds that he’ll re-enter the world decline. Indeed, some experts predict that most hikikomori who are withdrawn for a year or more may never fully recover. That means that even if they emerge from their rooms, they either won’t get a full-time job or won’t be involved in a long-term relationship. And some will never leave home. In many cases, their parents are now approaching retirement, and once they die, the fate of the shut-ins—whose social and work skills, if they ever existed, will have atrophied—is an open question.”
Drawing on his own clinical experience with hikikomori patients, Saitō creates a working definition of social withdrawal and explains its development. He argues that hikikomori sufferers manifest a specific, interconnected series of symptoms that do not fit neatly with any single, easily identifiable mental condition, such as depression.
Rejecting the tendency to moralize or pathologize, Saitō sensitively describes how families and caregivers can support individuals in withdrawal and help them take steps toward recovery. At the same time, his perspective sparked contention over the contributions of cultural characteristics—including family structure, the education system, and gender relations—to the problem of social withdrawal in Japan and abroad.
The book is very interesting, and at some points it reads more like a critique of the Japanese society than a psychological research. It would be interesting to see some later books about the topic, and how it’s showing in the “western” societies, as it seems that it’s a phenomenon that’s not culturally restricted to Japan. – Vasil Kolev
Though well know in Japan this particular cultural bound illness is virtually unheard of in the US. This is an excellent introduction. A copy is being ordered for the library. – Dr. Paul A. Rhoads
Saito Tamaki really wrote this book well. It is written in a way that anyone could pick it up and just do casual reading on this topic, albeit that it is a strange topic to just do “casual reading” on but it is still good regardless. – Nicholas Lee
I’ve never been this excited for non-fiction reading before… maybe I am growing up.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
Maybe Amazon and Tamaki should hire me to do their PR…
- Why are so many Japanese men refusing to leave their rooms? (bbc.co.uk)
- Hikikomori: Shut In (happyobligations.wordpress.com)
- Why Are Japanese Men Refusing To Leave Their Rooms? (slashdot.org)
- Your stories about refusing to leave bedrooms (bbc.co.uk)