seth howard | hikikomori


I withdrew from the world for a while
All my things were gathered here
Before my feet
Scattered as my many strange belongings
I knew no rest from my own clutter

Perhaps no one had noticed my withdrawal
From society, only quick trips to the
Convenience store was all they saw of me
Before I was back to that shrouded
World of shadow, my room
With the blinds closed during the day
And at night, the lights off
Perhaps only the dim glow of a laptop screen

Nengajyo lay pell-mell across my floor
Blank, unstamped, but all the same
It could be that I would never send them out
Or that New Year’s had already past
And that my loves were too far away

That wonderful time of the night was coming
When one could drift into the sleepy dreamlike
State of one who drinks too little caffeine
And too much alcohol, beer cans stacked
Outside on the patio, where the cold air
Of winter chills them with its icy touch

I lay back against the bed, I am sitting on the floor
There is poetry in the air, and in the darkness
A strange sweet feeling of happiness pervades
My spirit, and I can hear the Chinese girl
Next door talking on the phone for what seems
Like hours, perhaps she will never stop

But I am too far away now to wonder
The night has filled me with its gloom
And a sadness, that can only be felt by
One who must give up everything


(ひきこもり or 引き籠もり, Hikikomori, literally “pulling inward, being confined”, i.e., “acute social withdrawal”) is a Japanese term to refer to the phenomenon of reclusive adolescents or young adults who withdraw from social life, often seeking extreme degrees of isolation and confinement. The term hikikomori refers to both the sociological phenomenon in general as well as to people belonging to this societal group. (source)

0 Replies to “seth howard | hikikomori”

  1. Dear Mr. Howard,
    Imagine my delight and sense of recognition on seeing “Hikikomori.” I’d written a story about an American Hikikomori a few months ago and found that your piece captured the much of what I tried to convey. Than is so much.

  2. Hi Geronimo,
    Glad you enjoyed it. This was written from first hand experience of a time in my life when I was living in Tokyo. I, myself, was a hikikomori. This poem drew from the experience of that period.
    My best,

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.