A Peek at Japanese Cultural Phenomena

Some terms from Japanese culture I stumbled upon on Wikipedia. They are way too fascinating to not share.

Hikikomori ひきこもり

It literally translates to “withdrawal” but it refers to reclusive adolescents or adults who withdraw from social life and often seek extreme degrees of isolation and confinement. Hikikomori typically do not leave their rooms, not even for jobs, school, or to spend time with friends. They instead spend all their time working on hobbies, listening to music, watching television and movies, and surfing the internet.

Parasite single パラサイトシングル

A single person who lives with their parents beyond their late 20s or early 30s. Some stay until they get married. By doing this they delay facing the real world and instead enjoy a carefree and comfortable life. While some are cost-conscious and make efforts to save money, others spend their income on luxury items, traveling, and non-essential expenses.

Freeter フリーター

An expression for people who lack full-time employment or are unemployed, excluding housewives and students. They are also described as underemployed. They delay their transition from students to productive members of society, staying in an uncertain limbo of continued education, part-time work, and parental support.


A young person who is Not in Employment, Education or Training. They are not employed, not engaged in housework, not enrolled in school or work-related training, and not seeking work. In theory, it’s a distinct classification from the freeter, but in practice, the terms are pretty fluid.

Herbivore men 草食系

These are guys who don’t really have an interest in getting married or finding a girlfriend. Their theory tends to be the option of “abstain” from the game. They don’t forfeit, but they also aren’t playing. Herbivore men have no intention of bending to the will of society for gender-based purposes and opt instead for self-preservation. Herbivore men represent an unspoken rebellion against many of the masculine, materialist values associated with Japan’s 1980s bubble economy.

Carnivore men 肉食男

Classic macho guys who go after what and who they want. Fuckboys.

Satori generation さとり世代

Born in the late 1980s, in Buddhist terms this cohort is the “enlightened generation” — free from material desires, focused on self-awareness, finding essential truths. But another translation is grimmer: “generation resignation,” or those without ambition, ideals, or hope (i.e. a generation of unstable jobs, high student loan payments, precarious preparation for employment, postponed marriage and childbirth, and vague plans for the future.)

Yutori education ゆとり教育

A Japanese education policy which may be translated as “relaxed education” or “education free from pressure”. (“Yutori” is a Japanese word that means “room to maneuver.”) Since the 1970s, the Japanese government gradually reduced the amount of class time and the contents given in the guideline. This approach reduces the hours and the content of the curriculum in primary education. In recent years, the mass media in Japan have used this phrase to criticize drops in scholastic ability.

Kyariaūman キャリアウーマン

A woman, married or not, who pursues a career to make a living and for personal advancement, rather than being a housewife without occupation outside the home. AKA a #girlboss.

Office Lady, OL for short 💁

A female office worker in who performs generally “pink collar” tasks such as serving tea and secretarial or clerical work.

Salaryman サラリーマン

A man whose income is salary based. Though it refers to men in white collar jobs, it’s not a very prestigious term. It’s like OL but for men.

Karōshi 過労死

Literally: death from overwork. The major medical causes of karōshi deaths are heart attacks and strokes induced by stress and a starvation diet. It’s a popular notion surrounding the salaryman.

Kodokushi 孤独死

A lonely death.

Simultaneous recruiting of new graduates 新卒一括採用

The custom that companies hire and employ new graduates all at once. Japanese university students generally begin job hunting all at once in their third year. The government permits companies to begin the selection process and give out informal offers beginning April 1, at the start of the fourth year. These jobs are mainly set to begin on April 1 of the following year.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.