What we can learn from the Japanese

As autumn starts to set in and the days become shorter, I have been cheering myself up by looking at photos of cherry blossoms on Instagram.  The sakura season is underway in Japan and it is regarded as a symbol of renewal, vitality, and beauty which befits the spring season.

Japanese cherry blossom
Sakura - Japanese cherry blossom

But I've also been reflecting on the Japanese traditions which focus on finding contentment.  

Ikigai is about finding purpose in life.  In his article for the BBC, Yukari Mitsuhashi says that 'There is no direct English translation, but it’s a term that embodies the idea of happiness in living. Essentially, ikigai is the reason why you get up in the morning.'

Chip Richards expands on this definition explaining that 'ikigai is seen as the convergence of four primary elements - what you love, what the world needs, what you're good at and what you can get paid for.'  

There are more centenarians on Okinawa, an island in Japan, than anywhere else.  Okinawans possess a strong sense of ikigai which they practice through daily tai chi, healthy diet and a close community of family and friends.

The change in season is a great time for reflection and for exploring what ikigai means for me.

Ikebana is the ancient Japanese art of flower arranging.  One of my favourite movies of all time is Lost in Translation and there is a scene where Scarlett Johansson's character, Charlotte, is invited to join an ikebana class.  Art and nature can be very meditative.  I love taking care of my houseplants, and one of my secret favourite tasks is weeding our lawn - so therapeutic!


Wabi sabi is about embracing life's imperfect beauty.  My husband recently asked me to darn his jumper.  I asked if he wanted to buy a new one, but he said no, he loves that jumper!  For me wabi sabi is about looking at the cracks in our lives and thinking how we can make them better.

Wabi Sabi
Embrace wabi sabi

There's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in - Leonard Cohen
Check out my board on Japan in Pinterest and let me know what you think of these wonderful Japanese concepts by commenting below.


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