引きこもり[hikikomori]

July 30, 2007 at 10:32 am (general, otaku word, slang)

If you have watched the anime, NHKにようこそ![Welcome to NHK!], you must have heard of the term, 引きこもり[hikikomori].  NHK stands for 日本引きこもり協会[Nihon Hikikomori Kyoukai “Japan’s Association for Hikikomori”], not Japan’s commercial broadcasting, NHK, which stands for 日本放送協会[Nihon Housou Kyoukai]. Forgive me, but I do not know how English speakers say 引きこもり since I haven’t been able to find out the appropriate word. At any rate, 引きこもり means a person who stays indoors every single day even though they are not mentally impaired(some people are, though). Yes, the protagonist in this anime, Sato-kun is 引きこもり.  He got expelled from university, and he doesn’t have a job…every day he stays inside his room, in such a secluded space.

 There’s another similar term, ニート[niito “NEET”], which stands for Not in Education, Employment, or Training. The funny thing is that I haven’t heard this term in the anime because Sato-kun insists he is 引きこもり.  Yes, 引きこもり has to keep staying inside whereas ニート can go out anytime, accroding to him. Actually, ニート is more common than 引きこもり since the press generally focuses on them. As I have said, 引きこもり means even mental people sometimes. Comparing to 引きこもり, ニート does not seem to mean mental people.

 So I hereby introduce a few more terms those relate this kind of thing. First, it’s 廃人[haijin]. [hai] means to scrap, abolish, or discard. [jin] means a person…so literally, 廃人 means a scrapped person. Speaking of 廃人, we Japanese say ネトゲ廃人[netoge haijin] to describe a person who is addicted to online games. ネトゲ is an abbreviation of ネットゲーム[nettogeimu “online game”]. I heard some people died somewhere in Hong Kong or Korea because they played too much with no sleep, no eating, nor drinking.

 Speaking of online games, there’s オフ会[ofukai]. オフ[ofu] means off, and [kai] means an assembly. This means an assembly by online game players, bloggers, or online chat mates.  Upon the same purpose or interests, such people get together in the real world. In other words, this assembly takes place when they’re NOT on. That’s why we say オフ会. I have seen this kind of thing at a pub. Several people were having a party…but the weird thing was that it seemed to be not lively. They looked so solemn! And they called each other by alias, not real names. It sounded like the characters’ names in Ragnarok or something like that.  I bet they must have met for the first time. Besides, the title of episode 12 of Welcome to NHK! is オフ会にようこそ![Welcome to ofukai!]. But you will be terrorized when you see the assembly…no no, I shouldn’t give you any spoilers in case you watch this anime.

One more thing, there’s a spin-off term of ニート; 社内ニート[shanai niito]. 社内[shanai] means inside a company. It means a person who doesn’t work at all in spite of being at company.  Though they can get a salary! Is there this kind of person at your company?

13 Comments

  1. w said,

    I have been enjoying your periodical explanations very much, so I’d just like to say a word of thanks for your blog posts so far – there are some I know and some I had never even heard of like himono-onna, Masuo-san and so on. If you don’t mind I will mention you at my pathetic rubbish dump aka my journal.

    While I’m here, could I ask what the link between this netoge-haijin, neet and hikikomori terminology and the word “駄目人間” (dame ningen)? Is it used for people who are just hopeless but not necessarily reclusive like haijin and hikikomori? For example people who drink and gamble the whole day. Or is it just for people who are decent folks but can’t ever seem to hold a job and are hated by people and just have a pathetic life?

    Also, is the slang abbreviation for “hikikomori”, “hikki-” (ヒッキー, sometimes purposely miswritten as 筆記) in common use outside of 2ch/otaku circles? Thank you!

  2. bangin said,

    Yes, 駄目人間 is used in the more comprehensive way because it doesn’t feature the person so specifically. For example, Nobita-kun in Doraemon is entitled to be 駄目人間 since he is not so good at studying and sports at all that he is bullied by Gian. But he is just hopeless, not reclusive so badly…Shinji in Evangelion is such a wimp, isn’t he? So he is also 駄目人間 in a way (sorry for saying like this).

    Having said that, 駄目人間 could mean haijin, neet, and hikikomori. Even a junkie, a delinquent! But if someone said, “He is 駄目人間” to me, I would say, “What’s wrong with him?” unless I know who he is. Even if he is hikikomori, I can’t judge right away.

    In general, Hikki means the nickname of Japanese singer, Hikaru Utada. But yes, outside of 2ch/otaku circles, it also means hikikomori though it is not in common use.

    Oh, you are so knowledgeable that your journal can’t be rubbish dump. ^-^ Thank you!

  3. w said,

    Thank you for the clarification! I have learned yet another thing today.

    And when I say it’s a rubbish dump, it *is* one because I don’t say anything knowledgeable in it for the most part ^^; It’s mostly just me going on about my boring life.

  4. Maureen said,

    The English word is “recluse” (or “hermit”, although that’s by analogy from the religious sort of hermit, who chooses to live in solitude and stability for a purpose).

    But it’s just not all that common for young people in the US to be recluses to the hikikomori point. (As far as I know, anyway.)

  5. khursten said,

    I really love this website. And one that understands the terms where they are important. :3

    Keep it up! :3

  6. Michael Brazier said,

    On 社内ニート: English doesn’t have a specific word for people like that, but “sinecure” describes a position with no duties or responsibilities, whose occupant draws a salary nonetheless.

  7. bangin said,

    w-dono: Haha, I’m pleased to hear you said that. I hope I could write more terms even you don’t know. :))

    Maureen: I can see your point. The real hikikomori people are not even sure why they have become who they are. Or they don’t seem to have a certain purpose for being hikikomori. Not knowing what to do, nor getting themselves into, they become hikikomori…it’s not like choosing to live in solitude.

    khursten: Thank you for visiting! Yes, I will keep doing my best. Feel free to ask if you have any questions. ^^

    Michael: OMG! I didn’t know this vocabulary. So speaking of a sinecure, what kind of job should be this…Thank you for telling me this. ^^

  8. Avplaya said,

    I think NEET is more often used for unemployed young people in general… they are not usually seen as hikkomori. NEETs can be those who hang out in a manga or net cafe all day, or hobo-like 20-somethings who sleeps at friends’ place in different days. I don’t think NEETS has much of an otaku connotation like hikkomori as well.

  9. bangin said,

    You’re right. Anyone can be NEET. Even if he/she is NEET, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are otaku. Rather, these two terms don’t seem to have much link. For example, Sato-kun in this anime, hadn’t been such an otaku before he met his old classmate, Yamazaki-kun.

  10. maaku_sutipen said,

    oh about the オフ会、 here in the Philippines we have a similar word used to denote such behavior. It is EB or eye ball if you lengthen it. It is both a noun and a verb. We use it in either English or Filipino Why use such a terminology? It because you “eye” all the people you meet. This sort of looks like something from your KY post.
    BTW, a great site!

  11. bangin said,

    Okay, I will have an EB soon since I am supposed to meet one regular visitor.😀
    You are the second Philippnio who posted a comment AFAIK.

  12. Marius Mink said,

    I was wondering, I have heard or read a lot of people saying that all otaku are hikikomori and if they are not hikikomori they are not otaku. Do you agree with this? What is your opinion on who is otaku and who isn’t? I don’t know what my opinion on it is. I almost consider myself otaku because a lot of my life involves not just anime but Japanese and Korean dramas and music. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t know much about US (where I’m from) movies, music, or shows because all I follow is shows from Japan and Korea. Haha. But, I don’t just stay home and do that. In fact, most of my time is dedicated to school.

    • bangin said,

      I do not agree with that. That is just a conservative stereotype. Otaku is not something the press talks about it. They are just following what they want, anime, manga, or game whatever. Anyone has a hobby, and pursues it. You can be good at doing something you pursue like that. This counts being an otaku. In other words, everybody is an otaku. If you follow Korean drama, you are an otaku of that. That’s about it.
      I am a cosplayer, so I am a cosplay otaku. That’s about it. If I am a hikikomori, how could I cosplay and upload photos?^^

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