"An identikit of an average Hikikomori: likely a school dropout, may or may not have specific skills, most likely unemployed unless he has an online gig of sort, lives in his room in his parents' house, never steps out of the house, spends the day daydreaming, reading, roaming the internet, flipping TV channels, floating in his room.
And the typical image: a meal left at the door by his parents. Another: the room’s window covered with all sorts of rags and papers to avoid light filtering through. This self-reclusive nest is strewn with few possessions: books, video games, music instruments, plastic bottles, a random aquarium, a TV set, an empty bento box. In their enclosed space objects come to life and assume their own order and independence; becoming worlds within worlds. And here resides the Hikikomori like a mythological god in his own tomb.
For a country that is largely atheist, going to Akihabara is the closest experience to going on a religious pilgrimage in the middle of the vertical madness of Tokyo. After the massacre, just like with the Neomugicha incident, a ripple effect of social stigma hit the Otaku community. Much like the Hikikomori, Otaku is one of those puzzling Japanese post-modern cultural expressions. Often middle aged men can be seen at street events awkwardly dancing in sync to improbable songs sung by semi-improvised teenaged girls with short skirts and a Lolita aftertaste. You can see them incarnated in the ultimate adoring fans of the idol girls groups AKB48 or the Takarazuka. Both groups are entirely made out of women, the first are adolescents projecting a myth of purity, the second a theatre group rotating around an all-women cast interpreting men’s roles. The fans take this playfulness around gender very seriously finding the fictional context a safe zone of acceptance of gender bending that is otherwise pretty invisible in Japanese society.
Yes, the Hikikomori is the grand ball of contradictions, tomorrow’s dreams and nightmares are calcified together. For some Hikikomori, technology becomes a final connection to life, one that is manipulated by a fantasy that, while sinking into pain, it frees itself in suspended narrations of virtual love, communities and cyber identities. Implosions, distance from the over-exposure of contemporary life, degree zero of human interactions, anonymous virtual connection, giving form to sexless love, tearing apart imposed models of beauty; the Hikikomori find their center in the fluctuation of these narratives.
Our consumer universe thrives on the addictive mind. The greatest achievement of our schizophrenic contemporary culture is the selling of distraction; while it claims to love life, it starves it with super imposed addictions. The Hikikomori spark out of the in-between space of this specific culture of addiction and distraction. It is almost as if they inhabit the nowhere where we all come from, tapping into that suspended space of non-action that from time to time keeps us company. The fundamental difference is that they make it the center of their lives."