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

Book Review: Ikigai The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles

Book Review: Ikigai The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Ikigai (η”Ÿγη”²ζ– Reason for being, Japanese n. Having a clear purpose in one’s life that makes it worthwhile, give one a sense of satisfaction and give meaning to one’s life.

Read more on Wikipedia

In other words Ikigai is the dynamic and passion-driven intersection of doing the things you love, the thing you are good at, the thing that the world needs and the thing which you are being paid for.

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

This book struck a chord with me immediately. It’s all about finding that thing that is going to the passion that you will enjoy for the rest of your life. It’s a book of finding deep joy and connection in your work. Reading this, I had a light bulb moment where I realised I had to make a website about endangered species and start an online movement for boycotting brands that were destroying rainforests. Anyway it all just came together for me after reading this book and for this I am profoundly, deeply thankful for the insights it contains.

This is a great reference book to dip into over time. Although it is structured in a way that you could also read the book from cover to cover in one sitting.

There are many key takeaways to this book. I have summarised these for you below.

The seven conditions for achieving Ikigai flow

  1. Knowing what to do.
  2. Knowing how to do it.
  3. Knowing how well you are doing.
  4. Knowing where to go (where navigation is involved).
  5. Perceiving significant challenges.
  6. Perceiving significant skills.
  7. Being free from distractions.

Getting into the flow: strategies

  • Choose a challenging task (but not too difficult!
  • Have clear and concrete objectives and focus on the process.
  • Concentrate on a single task by being in a distraction-free environment and having control over what you are doing at every moment.

Happiness can be found in the process and a craft of doing, rather than the end result.

The grand essentials for happiness in life:

  • Something to do.
  • Something to love.
  • Something to hope for.

The recipe for a long life according to Japan’s centenarians

  • Stay active; don’t retire.
  • Take it slow.
  • Go out onto the street, smile and say hi to people.
  • Talk to people you love.
  • Don’t fill your stomach, stop eating when you are almost full.
  • Surround yourself with good friends.
  • Get in shape for your next birthday.
  • Smile.
  • Reconnect with nature.
  • Give thanks.
  • Live in the moment.

Ichi-go ichi-e: Be aware of impermanence

The impermance of things doesn’t have to make us sad, it can help us to live in the present moment and love those who surround us. Ichi-go ichi-e – this moment exists only now and won’t come again. We should enjoy the moment and not lose ourselves in worries about the past or the future.


A Japanese aesthetic that is sometimes described as one of appreciating beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete” in nature.


The idea that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The pearl inside of the oyster principle, that through hardship all things, including people are made stronger and more beautiful.

Happiness is always determined by your heart

Life is not a problem to be solved. Just remember to have something that keeps you busy doing what you love while being surrounded by the people who love you.

One thing I will criticise about this book, its authors spent a disproportionate amount of time talking about centenarians and people aged over 100 who live in Japan. This for me is pretty off-topic. Yes, they have lived a long time and know how to live a good life. However, being happy and living a long time seem tangential to the main topic which is about finding what you’re good at and finding your ikigai. This part of the book seemed a bit irrelevant and boring and could be skipped. Still, as a short and snappy guide to these timeless Japanese concepts, this is a great little book and would also make a good gift.

Published by Content Catnip

Content Catnip is a quirky internet wunderkammer written by an Intergalactic Space Māori named Content Catnip. Join me as I meander through the quirky and curious aspects of history, indigenous spirituality, the natural world, animals, art, storytelling, books, philosophy, travel, Māori culture and loads more.

16 thoughts on “Book Review: Ikigai The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

    1. I know what you mean Stuart 😊 yeah I’ve felt the same way for a while and it can be hard to monetise creative writing. Instead I have gotten into content marketing which can offer a degree of creativity, as well as giving you money and has career progression, although sometimes it means writing about things you don’t care much about.


  1. I loved this post so much that I’ve emailed it to a few friends! Well done, you! I really appreciate that you pulled out the most important bitsβ€”they are sparking some really interesting discussions with people I know, in both America and Japan. Thanks for posting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad Muky liked it, and that she likes the book on Wabi-Sabi too, that concept is really beautiful. Thanks for reading Jeremy and I hope things are going well for you both over in HK, take care πŸ™‚ x


  2. Nice post! I find it interesting that ikigai is a concept to obvious to people in Japan, that people actually very rarely actually say the word β€œikigai” here. It’s funny how that works out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is fascinating! I had no idea. As a Nipponophile I have never lived there like you but I have been there a few times. I like how you have the insight into what it’s like to live there on your blog and so I am now following you, very excited to read your insights on how it is to live in Japan, thank you


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