Youth Shut-Ins


Shut-ins are a relatively new phenomenon in Japan and occur mostly in men. Shut-ins are often depressed young men who drop out from school and instead shut themselves in their room. They are often characterized as being anti-social, favoring internet interactions, having interests such as anime, manga, and computer games. These people have often been the victims of bullying, and because of the intense pressures to conform, some adolescents find it unbearable to continue being part of society. Instead, they decide to stay in their homes.

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From: An Investigation about School Refusal and School dropout in Senior High Schools by Yougo Teachers

Summery: Cases of high school truancy and high school dropouts becoming shut-ins are expected to rise. This study tries to better understand the condition of truancy and of high school students that leave mid-term. In 2004,17,211 high school students were studied, with the help of special education teachers, concerning the number of students that are either absent for long periods of time (“absentee students”), refuse to go to school, frequently go to the nurse’s office (for non-medical needs), or completely drop out. The results show that 1.1% of students are absentee students, and are found to be most common in sophomores. Truant students make up 1.2% of the student population, with most of those students, 50.5% of them, in the same grade. The numbers of students that spend an inordinate amount of time at the school nurse’s office make up 0.2% of the student body, and their numbers were roughly the same in each grade. Student dropouts make up 1.2% and were most common during sophomore year.

Within this group of students – absentees, truants, and dropouts – some can be considered “shut-ins”. Truants as well as the dropouts’ 1.2% can be appropriately assumed to be “shut-ins.” Due to the high number of sophomores that are absentee students, truants, and dropouts, and, considering the length of time some students have been truant, the official number of dropouts will likely increase, as well as the number of dropouts becoming “shut-ins” to increase.


“Hikikomori” Among Young Adults in Japan

  • A study describing the difference between traditional Hikikomori, those with mental disorders, and Hikikomori with High-functioning Pervasive Developmental Disorders (HPDD).

Hikikomori: Investigations into the phenomenon of acute social withdrawal in contemporary

  • A study done by the University of Hawai’i Manoa that investigates the origin of hikikomori and addresses how to define the condition of hikikomori.

About Shut-Ins

  • Talks about what “shut-ins” are and chronicles the lives of various people living as shut-ins.

Contributor Bio

Akihabara: Linkography

The 4th Generation of Otaku

● The president of Akihabara Research Institute, Terao Yukihiro discusses the “lightening” of Otaku group.

● 秋葉原総合研究所社長の寺尾幸紘さんが語るオタクの“ライト化”

“I’m alone, but not lonely”

● A German sociologist, Volker Grassmuck discusses about the colonization of information and media world by Otaku group.

Volker Grassmuckオタクの世界を論議する

“Meet the Geek Elite”

● Wired Magazine interviews Koota Umeda, a salaryman and a self-confessed otaku

● WIred サラリーマンありながらオタクある梅田こうたさんを

Japan: Rose

Post Bubble Culture

When one thinks of Japan, beyond the more traditional aspects of the culture, the Japanese fervent passion for baseball often comes to mind.  Whether you’re an avid sports fan or a casual follower, you’ve probably heard that the Japanese love, ironically enough, “America’s pastime.”  But it’s become more than just a pastime to the Japanese:  baseball is now.  It was then, and, for the forseeable future, will be.  It’s a constant in the lives of the Japanese:  for the first 70 years of Japanese professional baseball, when a game was scheduled, it was played.  But then came 2004, and all of that changed.

Times were tough in the economy following the collapse of the Bubble Economy in the early 1990s.  The lost decade (失われた10年) lasted until 2003, even taking its toll on professional baseball.  It claimed its first victim a year later, after the 2004 season, an entire team, the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes, had to be bought out by a team based just down the road in Kobe, the Orix BlueWave, merging the two together into the Orix Buffaloes, upsetting the traditional balance of teams in Japan’s two leagues (the Pacific was reduced to 5, while the Central stayed at 6).  There was not enough time for negotiations, however, and the players did the unthinkable, they struck for the first time in league history.  There would be no baseball in Japan on September 18 and 19th of 2004, marking a very dark two day period in Japanese baseball history.  Teams changed owners all the time; the fans knew this.  But the strike made fans, especially those Kintetsu fans, realize that nothing is untouchable during an economic recession, not even a game.

Post-Bubble Japan

The “Refresh” button has changed the world. For anyone, who has ever spent an evening wasting away clicking for WikiAnswers, or flipping through endless Facebook photos of complete strangers, or watching e-documentaries on Baby Geniuses, they are familiar with the despair and desire for the “Refresh” button. The 20th century gesture of a fag between your index and middle has made way for the kink-in-the-neck check of your latest txt msg. Virtually anything is possible. Everything is within reach. And you need more. We’ve made a messiah out of technology—this much is universal idea—but has it delivered us? Can a click of a button re-establish a connection, show us an image?

The Information age alone has brought with it countless social concerns. Overlaid with Japan’s bubble burst economy, the saccharine cute idols and animations of the post-war era, news footage random acts of violence in Harajuku or the Sarin Gas Attacks on the Tokyo Metroline, the information age itself calls into question what are we clicking for?

In this photo by Yoshitomo Nara, a prominent SuperFlat artist, you might be drawn girl’s immediate cuteness. Her frumpy glare and kitty costume. But what constitutes her cuteness? What forces have anthropomorphized this child and urinating in a plastic duck, while staring back at her voyeur? In Post-Bubble Culture, one can find a somber reflection on the implications on a world electronically wireless and tuned out. How can we then, “refresh”?

Post-Bubble Japan

After World War II, the Japanese economy was in ruins and people struggled to recover from the war. However, after the Korean War, Japan did recover. During the economic rapid growth, Japanese society was urged to support the nation by working hard and saving diligently. As a result, economic boost heavily influenced culture, science, sports, and everyday life of Japanese people, improving the quality of life significantly.

In 1991, post bubble recession began and brought a huge impact on people. Japanese lost their identity and self-confidence in their future and wondered what has gone wrong.

This picture represents post bubble culture. The content symbolizes Japanese pop culture and crumpled paper symbolizes the destruction in Japanese society with frustration. This music also illustrates the Japanese searching for identity and how they are unsure of their direction in life.

Post-bubble Japan

A significant characteristic of post-bubble Japanese society is the struggle for a new identity. The collapse of the bubble economy dashed society’s hopes for continual progress towards a bright and rosy future for the nation. This has led many within Japan to to grapple with the issues of how their futures will change and how they fit into a society that is in a constant state of confusion.

The issue of identity is especially relevant to the women of Japan today, including both the generation in their prime during the collapse and those born in the years following. The stunning economic gains of the 1980s seemed to also promise advancements for the women of Japan. An economically thriving Japan offered the possibility that women would be able to contribute to the economy, and that growing economic equality between the sexes could perhaps change the traditional emphasis on marriage and children for Japanese women. Then the burst of the economic bubble prematurely ended plans for a rapid evolution in the position of women in Japanese society. Although the way that Japanese women perceive themselves and how they regard their role in society has continued to change, it is now a slow and uneven process in reaction to the uncertain future that Japan now faces.

The picture above features two women who are the face of the struggle for a new female identity in Japanese society: Crown Princess Masako and her daughter, Princess Aiko, of the Japanese Imperial Family. Princess Masako has faced pressure to conform to the traditional roles of wife and mother after marrying Crown Prince Naruhito, in spite of her education at Harvard and Oxford and her previous job at the Foreign Ministry. In particular, she has faced pressure to bear a son for the male-dominant Japanese imperial line. Her daughter Aiko then became the focus of a debate over whether women should be allowed to ascend the Japanese throne (this ended with the birth of Aiko’s male cousin who is now heir). Both generations of mother and daughter are caught up in the tide of the changing roles of women in Japan, although the outcome of their futures, much like the future of post-bubble Japan, is unclear.

Post Bubble Culture

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Japan’s Post-Bubble culture is characterized by an inherent confusion within society.  There is an apparent gender gap between pre-war and post-war Japanese, and thus there is a widespread misunderstanding not only internationally, but nationally as well as to what constitutes “Japanese” culture.

Immediately following World War II, Japan was literally bombarded with ideas of culture, government, and society from the west while trying to maintain their own Japanese ideals and values that had been the cornerstone of society since the beginning of time.  This led to chaos and confusion among Japanese citizens and thus the only aspect of their lives that they could count on to lead to positive success in their lives was business and prosperity.  The Japanese economy responded in kind and experienced a rapid growth spike unlike anything ever seen on the international scale.  Japan thus became one of the most competent competitors in the international market… until the collapse of the economy in 1990.  a.k.a. the burst bubble.  People who had been focused on business and prosperity alone found themselves desolate and searching for meaning.  Many turned to religious cults and other forms of spiritual inspiration to pull themselves out of this conglomerate societal and cultural depression.

Some Japanese, however, decided to turn back the clock and focus on the more “traditional” aspects of Japanese society, but decided to incorporate them into modern society.  Takeda Souun, acclaimed calligrapher, has done just that by drawing Japan’s younger generation into the spirituality of expressing oneself through the art of shodo, or Japanese calligraphy.  He often does performance art with thousands of people watching because he firmly believes that the method and movements behind the art are just as important as the art itself.  In regards to post bubble culture, I have chosen this animation of Takeda’s work that depicts the character “seed.”  By using this image, I believe that Japan as a whole has begun to look towards to and recognize the values that are inherently “Japanese.”  They are thus planting the seeds of traditions and ideals of the past to grow into the future, and that is what makes up this Post-Bubble culture.