Post Bubble Culture

After World War II, Japan underwent large-scale industrialization and modernization, leading to great economic prosperity. In order for this success to occur, the Japanese people threw themselves into their jobs. They worked hard and focused solely on the economy, disregarding the social ramifications wrought by  industrialization.

In the 1990s, with the crash of the bubble economy, social issues became prevalent in Japan. Previously, people valued their work more than their personal lives, so when the job market crashed, their lives were left meaningless. This stressful event, perceived as uncontrollable, sparked the advent of the post-bubble culture we see in Japan today which is characterized by new-age social problems.  Initially, Japanese people developed into social phenomena such as otaku, freeters, and hikikomori as a way to cope with economic stress. Ironically, these coping mechanisms have now become social stressors in Japan.

This is a picture of a strange-colored cactus growing out of lava. The lava, typically associated with volcanoes, represents the destruction caused by the economic crash. New, unexpected things have grown not only from the volcano, but also from the economic crash. Now, Japanese society is unsure about how to deal with these anomalies that have resulted from the collapse of the bubble economy.

Young Women Writers


I’m researching the female writer Aoyama Nanae and her Akutagawa Prize-winning novel Hitori biyori (2007). Winning the award at age 24, Aoyama is the latest example of the boom in young women writers, along with prize winners Kanehara Hitomi and Shimamoto Rio, who were also born in 1983. The young female protagonist of Hitori biyori learns about life and grows up as she moves to Tokyo, works at at train station kiosk, and lives with Ginko, a 71 year old family acquaintance. This novel evocatively describes the freeter lifestyle and the despair felt by contemporary youth.

In 2009, Aoyama became the youngest winner of the Kawabata Yasunari Prize for her short story “Kakera.” I’m very interested in this phenomenon and the ways in which these young women are changing the face of the literary establishment.

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  • 1983 Born in Saitama
  • 2005 Awarded 42nd Bungei Prize for “Mado no akari”
  • 2007 Awarded 136th Akutagawa Prize for Hitori Biyori
  • 2009年 Youngest winner of the Kawabata Yasunari Prize for the short story “Kakera”


“Just 20, She Captures Altered Japan in a Debut Novel” (NY Times, 3/27/04)

  • Post Akutagawa Prize interview with Kanehara Hitomi
  • 金原ひとみの芥川賞受賞者インタビュー

contributed by Rachel DiNitto

Young Women Writers


女流作家青山七恵の芥川賞受賞作『ひとり日和』(2007年 )を研究しています。24歳で受賞した青山は、若い女性小説家(金原ひとみや島本理生も1983年生まれの文学賞受賞者)の流行の一人として考えられま す。作品『ひとり日和』では、若い主人公が東京に引っ越し、駅のホームのキオスクで働き、母親の知り合いである71歳の吟子の家に住んで、 生活しながら成長していきます。この本は、現在の日本の若者のフリーター生活や絶望感などをいきいきと描写しています。

青山はまた2009年に短篇「かけら」で川端康成文学賞の最年少の受賞者となり、 この若い女性(少女)達が文学賞のイメージを変えていく現象は興味深いと思います。

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  • 1983年 (昭和58年) 埼玉県に生まれる
  • 2005年 (平成17年) 「窓の灯」で第42回文芸賞を受賞
  • 2007年 (平成19年) 『ひとり日和』で136回芥川賞を受賞
  • 2009年 (平成21年) 短篇「かけら」で最年少で川端康成文学賞受賞


[「女性作家の時代ようやく花開く」浦田憲治、日本経済新聞 2004年1月25日]:から



“Just 20, She Captures Altered Japan in a Debut Novel” (NY Times, 3/27/04)

Post Akutagawa Prize interview with Kanehara Hitomi

Entry contributed by Rachel DiNitto

Hikikomori (Shut-Ins)

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Post Bubble Culture

JapanBefore the collapse of the Bubble Economy, Japan enjoyed a great degree of prosperity: they were secure, respected, and wealthy, and the future only promised more. However, once the bubble popped, all the dreams the future had promised left quicker than it had ever come.

This story is illustrated by the rose to the right. What had once been a beautiful and thriving suddenly withered, leaving only memories of what once had been. Japan was seemingly alone, as the praise for the “Japanese system” and its “economic miracle” was replaced by harsh criticism and pretentious “I told you so”s. As the future fell from their sight, something new appeared on the horizon: insecurity, fear, hopelessness, and anger.

Unsure of how to handle to new reality, some of society sought refuge in tradition, devoting themselves to education and then into work, trying to salvage the prosperous times of youth. Others, jaded by broken promises, decided to retreat from society, creating their own sub-culture movements through religion, otaku culture, becoming freeters, or, more drastically, completely shutting themselves within their rooms.


English Japanese

  • 明治2310月30日:幕末後の教育目的として、教育ニ関スル勅という政策が作られ、日本の生徒たちが全部同じ教育をもらうのが始まった。
  • 明治の初め~昭和20年:教育ニ関スル勅によって、日本の天皇と日本帝国を中心して、日本の生徒たちが厳しい制度で、棒暗記して、皆は同じの状態であろうとフォーカスした。
  • 昭和45年代:この教育制度に対して、生徒たちは激しい形で、ものすごく批判を始めた。
  • 昭和55年代~平成2年代:外国で教育された日本の生徒たちが日本へ帰って行くのを始めた。外国的な意見と経験があった日本人生徒たちは他の生徒たちや先生にいじめられた。
  • 平成4年~平成8年:いじめに関して逮捕が非常に増加していった。
  • 平成10年:日本の国会が色々な必要な無意味な試験を止める改革を作った。
  • 平成18年11月:4日間で5つのいじめに関して自殺のケースが記事された。
  • 今日:警察や学校の先生を避けるために、テキストやサイトを使っている生徒たちが「サイバーいじめ」という方法を使えるようになってきた。

He, William


“People of Today: Kanehara Hitomi” (Subaru Prize for Literature, 2003)

  • Subaru interview with Kanehara Hitomi about “Snakes and Earrings”
  • 「蛇にピアス」についてすばる文学賞と金原ひとみのインタビュー

“Kanehara Hitomi Special Interview” (Shueisha, 2004)

  • Shueisha interview with Kanehara Hitomi about “Ash Baby”
  • 「アッシュベイビー」について集英社と金原ひとみのインタビュー

Customer Reviews (

  • Reader reviews of “Snakes and Earrings”
  • 「蛇にピアス」の読者のレビュー

Hikikomori Linkography

“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.


The Imperial Rescript on Education

  • Issued in 1890
  • 1890年に作られた教育ニ関スル勅語です。

Japanese Education Since 1945

  • A history of post-war Japanese education.
  • 戦後の日本の教育の歴史です。

Cyber Bullying

  • One of the recent methods that students are using to escape authorities.
  • 最近、警察を避けるために生徒たちはこのいじめ方法を使っています。

2007 Statistics on the Knowledge of Bullying Occurring Between Japanese Children

  • A site dedicated to making it known to the public just how serious bullying has become in Japan.
  • このサイトはいじめがこん何重い問題になってきたサイトです。