Milano-Tokyo Dialogue Over Hikikomori
Round 4 ”Support Needed?”

(Photo: Yuuki (Tokyo) / ShenXin (Milano) / Retouched by Vosot Ikeida)

< Profiles of speakers >

◆ Marco Crepaldi
A young socio-psychologist in Milan, Italy. Founded the web site “Hikikomori Italia” to respond to the increase of hikikomori in Italy, presiding liaison meetings of about 170 families. Refer to his article “What hikikomori is and what Isn’t” which was translated also in Japanese and raised big reactions.

◆ Vosot Ikeida
A middle-aged hikikomori in Tokyo, Japan. Has been a hikikomori intermittently for over 30 years. Refer to his career “Hikikomori Horoki (Odyssey of Hikikomori)“ (Japanese). What he speaks out here is his personal opinion and nothing to represent the Hikikomori News.


Continued from Round 3

Why can you say your Hikikomori News is one of the ibashos?

Because we usually write articles or process images in each own room or house, and exchange them through the internet, but we gather up for one place and meet up in face-to-face for the reason of “editorial meeting” sometimes. This is something we may not continue to do if we don’t have the common task; to publish our voices as the newspaper.

I seldom go out but I am looking forward editorial meetings every time. It has a different feeling from just a party or drinking session. The task to do gives us a sense of ibasho when we are there. It justifies our existence. On the other hand, nobody is forced to work there as well, unlike a business company. It may be because our newspaper publishing is still too small to be called a business, whether it’s good or bad. A hikikomori can just “be” there. This is good.

It sounds great. But the ibasho method would not be almighty for all the hikikomori problems, is it?

Exactly. A severe hikikomori cannot even come out to his or her nearest ibasho. There will be some hikikomoris who cannot go even to the nearby ibasho just because he or she hates to meet another specific hikikomori there. Also, there is a step called “ibasho-gypsy” which means that a hikikomori is wandering around many ibashos to find the most comfortable place to settle down finally. Here, “gypsy” implies just “wandering” and includes no sense of discrimination racially.

I overhear that in countryside, it takes almost half a day for a hikikomori to reach his nearest ibasho so that it is already a small journey for him, getting out of his daily life.
After all, we should think an ibasho is something just better than nothing. Too much expectation will bring opposite effects.

Why are you so interested in the Fujisato case?

Because I am convinced that the only way to help a hikikomori is to help the whole community where they live. Fujisato can prove that the hikikomori is not a problem of individuals, but of the society.
This is a fundamental concept.

I see your perspective. However, beyond that point, I think we must aim for creating a society in which it is no longer even a problem itself to be a hikikomori, and a hikikomori is one of many lifestyles that are not supposed to be blamed or accused by others.

I totally agree. I do not blame anyone for their choices on lifestyle, but they should respect others’ lives as well. I could be a hikikomori, but I should be self-sufficient in my choice, not depend on parents’ income.
At the same time, if someone wants to leave one’s hikikomori condition, I will try to help him. But leaving must be done by his choice.
Do you agree with me on this point?

Yes, I will.
If a hikikomori wants to leave his hikikomori condition, it is agreeable that someone tries to help him out.

…To be continued to Round 5

to the Japanese version of Round 4