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Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life | Book Review

According to the Japanese, everyone has an ikigai – a reason for living. Have you ever thought about that one thing you are passionate about in life? Through the diligence of our authors, this book carries several testimonies of people from the residents of a Japanese village with a high percentage of old people living, the meaning of ikigai, the concept of wabi-sabi, ikigai diet, and more.

“Want to live longer? Keep super busy. If hygge is the art of doing nothing, ikigai is the art of doing something – and doing it with supreme focus and joy. ”

New York Post

The Authors

Left: Hector Garcia, Right: Frances Miralles; source: The Hindu

Hector Garcia

Hector is a citizen of Japan, where he has lived for over a decade and is the author of A Geek in Japan, a #1 bestseller in Japan. He is also a co-author in The Book of Ichigo Ichie: The Art of Making the Most of Every Moment, the Japanese Way.

Frances Miralles

Frances is the author of a number of best-selling self-help and inspirational books and of the novel Love in Lowercase, which has been translated into twenty languages.


Garcia and Miralles’ book about Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy life is indeed an aesthetic read. I first saw it on Instagram and immediately fell in love with its sky blue and sakura cover. Imagine drinking green tea and eating a slice of matcha cake while reading this book. Wow, that is a really perfect treat for me. Hence, I made sure to purchase a tangible copy of this book to be part of my collection. Thanks, Turtle Learner Book Seller!

holding a blue book
my very own copy of Ikigai book <3

Moreover, I became more interested in Japanese philosophies this quarantine time as I often do meditation and watch self-care activities on YouTube. The concept of Ikigai is famous among them all because it is commonly mentioned in self-help books and by motivational speakers.

The Concept of Ikigai

The authors of the book mentioned how they find the term “ikigai” to be mysterious. Though we thought it is something we need to search for, in reality – it is just within us. Hence, we need to look within ourselves. For us to know it, we need to think of that specific thing and the reason why we get up every morning. For example, we want to wake up the other day to continue our work in serving other people – like the professions in medicine, teaching, and social work. It can also be the desire to create more like doing arts, music, and making food. Big or small as it may seem, it is enough reason for us to live. Moreover, it defines our purpose in this world.

source: Get Story Shots

Immersing to Japanese Village with Centenarians (Okinawa, Japan)

I never thought that authors will do an actual immersion with the Japanese village people. What I assumed in reading the book is only describing what ikigai is about. I am just amazed that the authors made an effort to conduct rigorous research in order to experience life with these centenarians and write it with authenticity.

“Eat and sleep, you’ll live a long time. You have to learn how to relax”

Misao Okawa (117), 2015

The authors also observed that most people in this village keep a vegetable garden, fields of tea and practice sustainable living. They are also passionate about whatever they love to do even it may seem insignificant to others. Being someone who lives in a fast-paced society, competitive workplace, and stressful environment, visiting the village will only look like a vacation place. But for the Ogimi people, it is an everyday lifestyle. Have you ever consider living like this?

Life Longevity Secrets

As information is readily available online, most of us have an idea that proper diet and exercise are both keys to life longevity. The ikigai diet stated in the book includes the regular intake of high-quality tea. The food selections are mostly vegetables, fruits, and fish meat. These foods are meant to strengthen the immune system. Gentle movements in regulating life energy such as yoga, taiso, tachi, and more are also beneficial to life longevity. Have you tried any of these in your routine?

woman in yoga
Photo by kike vega on Unsplash

I personally include yoga in my morning routine. In terms of food, it is more challenging to stick with only vegetables. I believe in a balanced diet but I’ll try to consume more antioxidants if possible. Is it bye to fast food deliveries?

Wabi-Sabi : On embracing imperfection

source: Japan Expert Insights

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese concept that shows us the beauty of the fleeting, changeable, and imperfect. Instead of searching for perfection, we should learn to embrace the flawed part of a thing or person. Japanese has practiced it for fixing the broken parts of a ceramic teacup. Instead of throwing it away, they repair lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold. To see beauty in imperfection is I believe a beautiful philosophy. ๐Ÿ™‚ Same for yourself, accepting your flaws leads to a more confident and peaceful life.

Related Link: Kimi No Nawa Anime Movie Review

The Purity of Ghibli

I am sure you are familiar with Studio Ghibli. On a personal note, I am a fan of the animation films under SG such as Whisper of the Heart, Arriety, From Up and Poppy Hill, and more. Thanks to Netflix because I can watch them all. ๐Ÿ™‚

Hayao Miyazaki, the director of the animated films produced by Studio Ghibli, has a clearly defined ikigai. He is known to be passionate about his work and enjoys every second in the state of flow. Even on the day of his retirement, he still goes to the studio to sit and draw. The term retirement never exists in the vocabulary of Miyazaki-san. This is way far from our modern mindset today of looking forward after retirement to only enjoy life. Perhaps, what the purity of ghibli wants to convey is making sure you love what you do in the present of everyday.

ใ‚ธใƒ–ใƒช (Studio Ghibli) GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY
Are you like Miyazaki-san?


Definitely, Garcia and Miralles’ book about Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy life is a must and worth reading for anyone who appreciates the value of slow living and for a person who badly needs a better life. No wonder why the concept of ikigai has a universal appeal. And, this book is an international bestseller – so deserving!

As I turned the last page, I understand ikigai in a deeper sense; it is more than just doing what you love – it is LIFE.

็ถšใ‘ใฆใ€ใ‚ใชใŸใฎ้“ใ‚’ๅค‰ใˆใชใ„ใงใใ ใ•ใ„

Keep going; don’t change your path

Mitsuo Aida’s Calligraphy

Rating: โญ๏ธ โญ๏ธ โญ๏ธ โญ๏ธ โญ๏ธ

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  1. I’ll have to do some more research in this as it sounds really interesting and beneficial. Thanks so much for sharing this info!

    1. Hello Molly! Yes, this book is so insightful and beneficial to life.
      Hope you experience reading it soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. This sounds very interesting, definitely want to read it! x

    1. Thanks Caroline! ๐Ÿ™‚
      Yes, it is so insightful and an interesting read. Hope get the chance to own a copy! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I’ve read about Japanese philosophy before. Always amaze me. Nice review. Very detailed.

    1. Thanks Crystal for reading. ๐Ÿ’•
      True, the philosophy is definitely beneficial in our lives. Glad you can relate. ๐Ÿ˜Š

  4. I’m going to be buying this book today. It is the perfect read for me, and I can’t wait, your review was excellent, and thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you, Lou! ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes I highly recommend it.

  5. Great review! I love the cover of this too and it looks like such an interesting concept and idea. I love that we have to look within ourselves! Thanks for sharing x

    1. True, this is my favorite book so far. <3 Look within ourselves.

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