Everything you need to know about Ikigai

Japan Nakama
5 min readApr 27, 2021

It’s a Monday morning. Your alarm clock goes off and you open your eyes, just enough to press the snooze button. You then get dressed and head to work.

After a long day, you come home and think to yourself, “Is this all that my life amounts to? A 9–5, 5 days a week?”, before going to bed and repeating the same routine the next day.

Have you ever wished something, anything, would dramatically change your life?

The world is advancing at such a quick pace that it’s easy to feel discontent with yourself. Status, money and even in love, almost everything in our society is competitive.

Most of us fail to recognise how to manifest happiness in our daily lives, despite being taught about the emotion at a young age. Unaware of what the real issue is, we throw ourselves into a never-ending pity party, wondering why we are so unhappy.

One of the books that significantly helped me on my self-discovery journey is Ikigai by Yukari Mitsuhashi.

Ikigai is a subject that focuses on the very essence of living and explores the question:

What makes you get up in the morning?

What is Ikigai?

The traditional Japanese concept ‘Ikigai’, stems from two Japanese characters; ‘iki’ meaning life and ‘gai’ meaning value or worth. It can simply be interpreted as the values in your life that brings you joy.

Pinpointing a singular definition does not do ikigai justice. It is a multifaceted concept reliant on individualistic traits and has endless possibilities, meaning it is unique to individuals.

Ikigai focuses on all aspects of our lives, meaning it can be found in work, family, a hobby, an event or something that brings small joy in the mundane, everyday life. For instance, people that enjoy baking do so not only for their own pleasures, but also to share their experiences with other people.

Photo Credit: VisionsLive

Why is Ikigai important?

A common misconception is, perhaps, that happiness is reserved for people who are seen as “successful” or have climbed higher up on the corporate ladder.

Japan Nakama

Japan Nakama are a London based online publication that investigates and explores all aspects of Japanese Culture.