A month at home in isolation may seem like an eternity for those unaccustomed to a lack of person-to-person contact, but the experiences of Japan's large numbers of hikikomori, or social recluses, may offer some hints on how to stay sane during the coronavirus pandemic.

The health ministry defines hikikomori as people who have remained isolated at home for at least six consecutive months, are not going to school or working and are not interacting with people outside their family. According to government studies, there are an estimated 1 million or more hikikomori nationwide.

Although people have started to use the term more loosely to describe themselves hunkering down at home to help stop the spread of COVID-19, most social recluses spend years, sometimes decades, in isolation.