Japanese Prefecture Creates Mascot Girl to Help Introverts

posted on by Ko Ransom
Kanagawa sponsors "Hiki Star" site & ad with Niconico to support hikikomori shut-ins

Japan's Kanagawa prefecture opened a website to support hikikomori shut-ins titled "Hiki Star" on May 29. The website features two anime-style mascots, Suzuhari Hoshi and Koyurugi Hoshi, and describes itself as a website "by hikikomori, from hikikomori, for hikikomori." The website is operated by a local non-profit organization, and it includes hikikomori on its steering committee.

The website publishes personal thoughts that hikikomori have submitted to the site, as well as interviews with former hikikomori, book reviews, comics, and more. The site received 1,890 hits in its first four days, and is also active on Twitter.

In 2010, Oxford University Press added the term "hikikomori" to the third edition of its Oxford Dictionary of English, defining the term as "(in Japan) the abnormal avoidance of social contact, typically by adolescent males." The concept has been depicted in anime several times, most notably in Welcome to the NHK (pictured at left). Hikikomori characters also appear in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, Eden of the East, Rozen Maiden, and others. Japan itself is depicted as having been a hikikomori prior to meeting America in the manga Hetalia - Axis Powers.

Source: Sankei News, J-Cast Mono Watch

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