Shiko Ishii has published the 400th edition of Fonte, a newspaper for Japanese hikikomori, a newspaper he himself founded at age 16 when he became a recluse.
The Fonte newspaper for people who have stopped going to school or withdrawn from society printed its 400th issue this month.
It was a special moment for Shiko Ishii, 32, the newspaper’s chief editor. He still remembers Fonte’s first issue in 1998 — it featured an interview with him as a 16-year-old who had stopped going to school.
“I had doubts about the point of studying just to pass exams, so I stopped going during my second year at middle school,” he said.
At the time, Ishii felt bad for his parents because he could not go to school like other children. He often thought about dying. “Nobody around me felt the way I was feeling,” Ishii recalled. “That was the toughest part.”
After being interviewed in 1998, Ishii’s outlook changed. “I thought perhaps my own experience might be able to help somebody else,” he said.
The Daily Mail (UK) offers a summary (originally Agence France-Presse) of contemporary hermits in China’s Zhongnan Mountains, profiling several in an article titled “China’s mountain hermits seek a highway to heaven.” Among hermits in the article: Master Hou (pictured above), Wang Gaofeng, Liu Jingchong, Li Yunqi, and Gao Ming — the latter two are women, and, surprisingly, half of the hermits of Zhongnan are women.
Almost all the hermits are younger aspirants quitting their congested urban homes for the freedom of the mountains. Some are part-time dabblers who come to the mountains on a weekend to try out the hermit life. Bill Porter has become an inspiration to many thoughtful Chinese men and women curious about Taoism, Buddhism, and eremitism.
The Portfolio section of the New Yorker offers an eight-photo portfolio by Evgenia Arbugaeva titled “Weather Man: Life at a Remote Russian Weather Station.” From the text:
Vyacheslav Korotki is a man of extreme solitude. He is a trained polyarnik, a specialist in the polar north, a meteorologist. In the past thirty years, he has lived on Russian ships and, more recently, in Khodovarikha, an Arctic outpost, where he was sent by the state to measure the temperatures, the snowfall, the winds. The outpost lies on a fingernail of a peninsula that juts into the Barents Sea. …
Evgenia Arbugaeva, a photographer who grew up in the Arctic town of Tiksi, spent two extended stays with Korotki. “The world of cities is foreign to him—he doesn’t accept it,” she says. “I came with the idea of a lonely hermit who ran away from the world because of some heavy drama, but it wasn’t true. He doesn’t get lonely at all. He kind of disappears into tundra, into the snowstorms. He doesn’t have a sense of self the way most people do. It’s as if he were the wind, or the weather itself.”
The Beijing Review Facebook page includes a series of 5 photos of Yang Zhongyou, an 82-year-old recluse in the Qinling Mountains, southern Shaanxi Province. He is shown “splitting wood to heat his lodge, nestled deep in the mountains.” Other photos feature his hut and sleeping place. The entry adds: “A number of secluded old men have been discovered inhabiting the Qinling Mountains in harsh conditions.”
io9 is a breezy generic website serving up free-lanced cultural curiosities. One recent contribution is a little article titled “The Secret History of Hermits,” offers a quick overview to types of hermits: mountain and wilderness hermits, stylites, and anchorites. Hermitary readers will recognize the highlights presented, and note links to Hermitary content.