Written by Vosot Ikeida & CJ
Photo by Pixabay
Interviewed in July 2018
To Be a Hikikomori in an Extrovert Country
Vosot Ikeida How could I call you?
CJ CJ is fine. CJ from the Philippines.
Vosot Being a hikikomori in Japan and in the Philippines must be different somehow, I guess?
CJ Yes, it's very terrible to live in this kind of situation especially in the Philippines where most people are extroverted. If you are a hikikomori here, they see you as not normal in the society.
Vosot How long have you been hikikomori?
CJ I started back in 2008. So it's 10 years now.
Vosot What were you then? A student?
CJ It was when I finished my college.
Vosot Before that, could you have a social life without becoming a hikikomori?
CJ I have to admit there were bullies at school… And then I was forced to enter college due to the pressure from my family. I was supporting my studies through playing music in a band.
That was the first time I went out and met many people, though I was very shy performing in a bar. I played in the band during weekends and I was doing evening classes from Monday to Friday in a State University that costs only $300 dollars of tuition a year with a course that I didn't like, Economics, but for the sake of the cheapness of it.
Job Hunting Too Difficult
Vosot What happened when you finished your college? I supposed you got your diploma of Economics then.
CJ There were hardships to find jobs for me, then I started not going out.
Vosot Wow, it sounds very close to my case. Do your parents blame you since you don't go out to try more to find other jobs?
CJ Yes, every time. They don't really understand how hard it is for me to go outside.
Vosot Do you often see your friends who are not hikis?
CJ Not at all. I only saw friends at school but that was before. Now, never.
A Hikikomori in a Small House
Vosot Do you live in city like Manila, or in village?
CJ I live in a semi-rural area.
Vosot Is your parents' house big enough to keep you inside?
CJ My family is not rich. Our house is pretty small. It is so difficult to live as a hikikomori in this kind of situation, because you hear all the people's gossiping about you, just around you.
Vosot I see. I can It sounds to be so terrible to have the people around you gossiping about you. I admire you are well surviving in such an environment.
CJ Yes, I think I am a survivor.
Vosot Do you have your own room in your small parents' house?
CJ Luckily I can do carpentry a little bit, so I have made a space for myself, which is a kind of the extension of our house. But it's just a very small room.
Vosot It’s good you do carpentry. Do you have brothers or sisters?
CJ I have two older brothers. One has got married and moved out. And the other one is still staying here at my parents house. I'm the youngest son. My brothers are extroverted and we sometimes have difficulties in communication with me.
Vosot I see. That is the environment where you have survived as hikikomori for as long as ten years.
CJ Yes, that’s right. It’s been so hard. When I saw the anime "Welcome to the N.H.K.", I thought that the life of the hero guy is not that terrible at all. I always want to have a place like him, where I can live alone. It's OK if people gossip me as far as I can't hear them literally. But imagine, you can hear every single word they talk about me. You know you can't control what they think of you, but it makes you irritated all the time if they are neighbors who live just closely to you.
Vosot I can imagine. It’ll be so terrible. I am living alone, so I would be a hikikomori who is much more privileged than you in that sense.
CJ Yes, I think so. Japanese and other Hikikomoris throughout the world have different settings, and I think living in the environment like me is the worst place you can be a hiki.
Vosot I see. But still, you can’t help being a hikikomori. It might be the only way that the people around you change their viewpoint about hikikomori, but we can not expect it now. You will find your difficulty there?
...Continued to Round 2
...To the Japanese Version of this article