Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life book review on www.wantforwellness.com

Ikigai : The Japanese secret to a long and happy life book review

Ikigai is a Japanese term which roughly translates to “a sense of purpose” or “a reason for being” – something a lot of us tend to look for nowadays. No wonder this concept is gaining more popularity in Western Culture! I picked up some books on the topic in the hopes of learning more about Ikigai, and how to find it. Was the similarly named book “Ikigai” any help? Read all about it in this Ikigai : The Japanese secret to a long and happy life book review.


Although I am currently – and purposefully – a stay at home mom, I am planning to pick up my job again when my toddler eventually goes to school. Although this gives me several years to figure out how I am going to fulfill my job as a freelance creative again, I felt it would be a nice self-improvement goal to see if I can put more purpose into my work.

As the definition of Ikigai sounded like the most straight-forward solution, I decided to give “Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life” by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles a try.

Most of the book comes across like an abundant gathering of stories and facts – some a lot more appealing to me than the other. Although paragraphs about people becoming exceptionally old or workers who are so passionate they cease to retire are mildly interesting, they don’t satisfy a millenial’s quest for more purpose in her working life. After all, we are generally bombarded with information about healthy nutrition, the importance of exercise, and keeping your mind positively busy.

Eventually, the concept of “flow” is widely discussed: How to enter a flow-state, and how to maintain it. As I love this state of mind – and I always felt it effortlessly fed my creativity – I can highly relate to this chapter. The authors even go as far as to mention how finding an activity which triggers your flow can very well be the answer to finding your Ikigai.

As this tidbit was shared without having reached the halfway mark, I started noticing what I experienced as a lack of structure in this book – which unfortunately continued to the very end. Luckily, the end also consisted of a chapter about resilience (which is interesting to anyone with a knack for self-improvement).

The book concludes with an epilogue statement that we shouldn’t spend time worrying about finding our Ikigai – of which I’m not sure whether it soothes or frustrates me.

Fact is, that although “Ikigai” was a light read, I was hoping for a lot more in-depth information. And more importantly, answers on finding the magic that is called Ikigai: A sense of life purpose. Instead I often felt I was reading a handbook on how to grow to the tender age of 117 by virtually copying life in Okinawa.

Would I recommend “Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life”?

Yes, I would. To people who enjoy a lighthearted read about a bunch of interesting, health-related topics – especially if they enjoy appealing cover art for on their side table or in their bookcase. Because honestly, it’s not an unentertaining read: It simply lacked the depth and the pragmatism I expected.

You can purchase Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life here on Amazon

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  • Reply Amanda - Activated Living March 30, 2019 at 05:07

    This was a great review of the book. I actually had it in my Amazon que but hadn’t ordered it yet. I have always been interested in Japanese culture and their philosophy.

    Amanda – Activated Living

    • Reply Nathalie March 30, 2019 at 07:28

      I have an interest in Japanese wisdom too! I just started another book on Ikigai in the hopes of finding more straight-forward information on the topic. I expect to review it as soon as I’ve finished!

  • Reply Megan | Ginger Mom and Company March 24, 2019 at 21:34

    Sounds like an interesting concept, although I would be hoping for something a bit more substantial. Great review!

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