Written by Vosot Ikeida and Marco Antonio Clivio Benitez
From the Country of Vast Land
Marco Antonio Clivio Benitez I read one of your articles written by an American who was a hikikomori. And I am a hikikomori too. I think there are probably lots of people like us everywhere. It's just that most governments don't care, which means there are no official numbers. I'm sure there must be at least a few thousands in my country. I can't be the only one.
Vosot Ikeida Yes, I think you are definitely right. It seems that your name consists of four parts. How could I call you?
Marco Antonio My first name would be "Marco". "Antonio" is considered the "second name" here, and "Clivio Benitez" is a double last name which is the result of the merging of 2 different families in Italy hundreds of years ago. So a friend would call me “Marco”.
Vosot I see. But there are so many “Marco” on this network of GHO, so please allow me to call you “Marco Antonio” to identify you.
From your name, could I presume you are contacting from Spain?
Marco Antonio I'm from Argentina.
Vosot Oh, I see. That is the country located exactly at the opposite side of Japan on the globe. I don’t know much about your country, so tell me.
Marco Antonio Argentina is the 8th largest country in the world, but we have a population of only 44 millions. The total population density is 14 persons per square kilometer. There are 24 provinces in total in this huge country, but more than 16 of those 44 millions live in a single province; Buenos Aires, which we have our capital city in. It means the population density in other provinces is even lower, and some of them are almost empty. We have a lot of land.
Vosot I see. That is quite different from Japan, where the population density is 341 persons per square kilometers. Where do you live in Argentina?
My City and My House
Marco Antonio I live in a city called "Paranà" which is more than 500 kilometers away from Buenos Aires. Paranà has a population of over 300.000 people, and it is the provincial capital of Entre Ríos province. It used to be the capital of Argentina for a short while, from 1853 to 1861.
Its local society is just a little more conservative than Buenos Aires. The climate goes from -5 degrees Celsius in the worst case in winter, up to as high as 40 degrees Celsius during summer. People in this city are just a little more tolerant of others than the people of Buenos Aires.
Outside of Paranà city, Entre Ríos province has only a few small towns with less than 50.000 people. As we have so much free space everywhere, there is no need to build tall buildings. That's why tall buildings aren't so common in. Even in the central area, you will see lots of small houses next to each other.
Vosot Which part of Paranà do you live in?
Marco Antonio My house is located in the central area of the city.
Vosot What is your house like?
Marco Antonio My house has a living room, a garage, a dining room, a kitchen, the rooms, a backyard, a rooftop terrace, 3 bathrooms, and a very small storage room in the backyard.
Vosot Wow, what a big house you live in! Your family must be so rich then!
Marco Antonio Not really. My family is in the middle class.
Vosot According to the standard of the people living in Tokyo, such a residence could never belong to a middle-class family. Do you have your own room to be a hikikomori, of course?
Marco Antonio I'm currently sharing my room with my brother since his room is being renovated.
People of the Outside World
Vosot What are the Argentinian people like? How do you describe the national character of Argentinians?
Marco Antonio Argentinian people are very nationalistic and arrogant, even though they don't admit it usually. They consider themselves to be the best at everything. It's not that they try to be the best. It is just that they have already considered themselves to be the best from the moment they are born in this country.
In such a proud and arrogant country, if you fail at something, if you lose against somebody else, if you are weak in one way or another, all other people will despise you to be the worst of the worst. Basically in this society, if you are not the best of the best, people will laugh at you and say horrible things to you.
The important thing is that, in reality, most Argentinians are NOT the best of the best at all at everything, so they have to hide the fact that they are weak. Otherwise, other people will find out that you are weak, and then you will have to be isolated from them as a loser.
Vosot It sounds like to be a highly competitive society. Pride and vanity may be confused there. It happens in my society too, in Japan.
No Camera, No Mobile
Vosot It would be nice if you had some photos that you took before, about your hikikomori life. Let me use them for our article. It could be anything, like of what you eat, of what you see outside the window, of what your computer screen looks like,...anything.
Marco Antonio A hikikomori like me has no need for a smartphone or a digital camera, since I won't call anyone and I won't receive any calls, so it's impossible for me to take any photos of the things around me.
Vosot OK then, there is no problem about photos. I will look for photos about your city to know what kind of place you are living in.
...Continued to Round 2
...To the Japanese Version of this article
...To the Spanish Version of this article
...To the French Version of this article