Ikigai Tribe is an ibasho -  your place to be, a place where you can be yourself. 

And the values of Ikigai Tribe are articulated in this red seal.

I commissioned a Japanese artisan stamp-maker to hand-carve this special kakuin (角印) a square hanko, or stamp, that delivers a red seal (inkan) to authenticate official documents – such as the certificates of my Ikigai Tribe Coach program. 

All Japanese own a hanko – from the Emperor and Prime Minister to the someone opening their first bank account. In Japan, it has long been held that an inkan is a substitute, or an extension, of yourself. It is a statement of intention and determination when making a decision. It is an important tool as a proof of this decision, and for that reason, it must be treated with care.


Nicholas Kemp - The Ikigai Coach

Nicholas Kemp, The Ikigai Coach,  is a father, husband, Japanologist, researcher, solopreneur, and author of IKIGAI-KAN: Feel a Life Worth Living. He is the founder and head coach of Ikigai Tribe, a small community of educators, psychologists, coaches, and trainers who serve their personal communities using the ikigai concept. 

A week-long trip to Tokyo in 1977 at the age of five left a lasting impression on Nick that would eventually see him return to Japan eighteen years later. After being awarded a one-year restaurant management traineeship with one of Japan's largest restaurant chains in 1995, Nick fell in love with Japan (again) and ended up living there for 10 years. 

“I have had a love affair with Japan ever since I first visited the country at the age of five. Some 40 years later my relationship with Japan has never been more intimate. The older I get the more I seem to discover how unique, beautiful and wise the culture and people of Japan are.

It was in 1998 when I returned to Japan to teach English that I was introduced to the most amazing word when a co-worker asked me what my “ikigai” was. I hadn’t heard the word before and was astounded to discover that the Japanese language had a single word to encapsulate one’s reason for living.

Twenty years later, after stumbling upon the westernised “Ikigai Venn Diagram” it became my personal mission to correct the misunderstood perception of ikigai and share with the world what ikigai means to the Japanese. The information on this website and in my soon to be released book is what I hope is the most accurate and honest representation of the Japanese concept of ikigai”


In the centre are the two kanji characters that make up gai (甲斐), which means ‘value’ or ‘worth’. The four individual characters that surround gai are:

  • 心 - kokoro, which can mean mind, heart, and spirit combined

  • 技 - waza, meaning skill

  • 体 - karada, meaning body and health

  • 友 - yu, meaning friendship

These four kanji characters embody the values of Ikigai Tribe, where all members come together to share and promote a positive spirit, wisdom, wellbeing, and friendship.  In short Ikigai Tribe is an ibasho.


Kakuin are a type of hanko generally used by companies for everyday business transactions. There are many types of hanko that are widely used in Japan for tasks such as making contracts (e.g. when renting an apartment or joining gym), for tax documents, opening bank accounts, getting certificates (e.g., marriage, driver’s licences), and receiving deliveries.


Ibasho has no direct translation, is used in daily conversations, and encapsulates both psychology and philosophy. A Japanese-to-English dictionary would translate ibasho as ‘whereabouts; place; location’, but in recent decades the word has been used in relation to belongingness and mental wellbeing. I

Ibasho is composed of two words: the verb iru, meaning ‘to exist’, and basho, which means ‘place’. 

  • Iru = to exist 

  • Basho = pace

Ibasho = place to be

Together as ibasho, they indicate ‘place to be’, and invite you to contemplate who is important to you and how you can find your place in the world. This may be a physical place where you feel connected with the environment around you – a regular holiday destination, the beach, a park, or your favourite local café. 

On another level, the word can indicate a social niche rather than a physical one – the group of people amongst whom you can be yourself. It is also the context in which you feel your ikigai in your interpersonal relationships, a community of social connection necessary for psychological well-being, where one feels peace, security, acceptance, and belonging. Having ibasho endows you with the carefreeness to be yourself, allows you to experience intimacy and feel ikigai.  


In the first cohort of my Ikigai Tribe coach certification program, I had 6 members from all parts of the world – Dubai, France, Brussels, Germany, the UK, and the US – join me to create what would become my ibasho. Despite being in different locations and time zones, the seven of us connected over very meaningful concepts and shared quite personal, significant stories that brought us together in both a literal and metaphorical sense, forging a close bond. 

Julie, who joined us from France, told us that Ikigai Tribe had become her ibasho. On one call, she shared how she felt so comfortable with the coaching cohort that she could reveal to everyone things she couldn't even discuss with her friends or family. When she said, ‘Ikigai Tribe is my ibasho,’ it brought tears of joy to my eyes. I was overcome with emotion that Ikigai Tribe, my ‘place to be’ had also become hers, where she could be carefree and express her true thoughts and feelings.


Francis Cantraine Master Coach

 Fatma Alabdulaali Organisational Culture Consultant