October 25, 2021

KITAAB

Connecting Asian writers with global readers

A world of fear for Japan’s shut-ins

1 min read

It’s not surprising to see foreign academic and cultural interest in the phenomenon of shut-ins. In 2012, that curiosity sparked two novels from German-speaking writers. One, by Kevin Kuhn, is unsurprisingly titled “Hikikomori.” The other, by Milena Michiko Flasar, has just been translated into English as “I Called Him Necktie.”

Several years ago, a vogue of interest in shut-ins, or hikikomori, saw researchers from France touring Japan and meeting reclusive youths. Such was the prevalence of the disorder, said psychologist Nicolas Tajan, that “if you ask people in Japan about hikikomori, almost everyone will say, ‘I know somebody like that.’ But there is no such word in France.”

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