We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

Ikigai: The Japanese Guide to Finding Your Purpose in Life

Move over, Hygge – it’s all about Ikigai now.

Written by Japanese expert Ken Mogi, The Little Book of Ikigai is a fascinating insight into the miracle that is the Japanese people’s record-breaking long life and astonishing good health.

Ken Mogi


It is extraordinary that Japanese men’s longevity ranks 4th in the world, while Japanese women’s ranks 2nd. But perhaps this comes as no surprise when you know that the Japanese understanding of ikigai is embedded in their daily life and in absolutely everything that they do. In their professional careers, in their relationships with family members, in the hobbies they cultivate so meticulously. The Japanese talk about ikigai as ‘a reason to get up in the morning’. It has been described as a miracle recipe for living a longer and happier life, as well as a motivational philosophy that helps you engage enthusiastically with your professional and personal commitments, whether you are a cleaner of the famous Shinkansen bullet train, the mother of a newborn child or a Michelin-starred sushi chef.

iki” (to live) and “gai” (reason)


A key study published in 2008 by Japanese researchers identified ikigai as a major factor for promoting longevity, especially by reducing cardiovascular disease, if not cancer. Other studies have also linked it to good health, happiness, and community-building.

The fact that this concept plays an important role in people’s wellbeing throughout the country is a testimony to its importance in the Japanese way of life.

Ikigai comes naturally to many Japanese, it is something that is in the air in the island nation. The Little Book of Ikigai helps Westerners rationalise and discover their own ikigai.

Ken Mogi answers the following key questions:

• How do the cognitive factors that constitute ikigai contribute to people’s good health and longevity?
• How does ikigai contribute to happiness?
• Does ikigai lead to a more successful life, even economic returns?
• How do you find ikigai?

In The Little Book of Ikigai, Ken Mogi explores his country’s fascinating traditional values, and in the process offers an insider’s view immersed in the richness of Japanese culture, while intertwining contemporary science, combining insights from a scientific, psychological and cognitive approach.


Some people find ikigai in pursuing professional careers. Others in supporting other family members. It may be as formal and structured as a craftsperson creating a beautiful lacquered rice bowl, or it may be as simple as packing a school lunch box for grandchildren. Although some people find it in their work, others, whose job is not conducive to ikigai fulfillment, find it in pastimes and hobbies, for Japanese people are great hobbyists. Some find pleasure in traditional pursuits such as the nurturing
of bonsai trees, creation of complex origami structures, and engagement in centuries-old styles of dance. Others are avid collectors of various objects, or find themselves immersed in baking bread or making jam. They might
also find joy in trainspotting or interacting with nature. Certain characteristics unite them all:

1) Getting the small things right

Do not focus on success itself, but only on getting the important basics correct. Meticulous attention to the details in daily chores – getting the small things right – can be the key to success. Ikigai is in essence modest and small scale.

2) Taking the time you need

The process is not something to be hurried through to get to the result as soon as possible. The result is the product of getting the process right.

3) Enjoying a sense of achievement

Doing small things properly and seeing a task through to completion is what made the Japanese work ethos famous. particularly in high-end precision engineering and technology.

4) Establishing a sense of mutual support and community

The Japanese have historically placed a high value on serving for others, sometimes to the point of selfsacrifice, from the samurais in pre-modernization Japan to contemporary salarymen. There is a deep connection between ikigai and aiming for a harmonious relationship with others, fostering a sense of mutual support and community.

Ikigai Venn Diagram

The Little Book of Ikigai is available for pre-order now: http://amzn.to/2vxnJ1G