Ikigai Quotes

Quotes are a thought-provoking and effective way to offer insight and understanding of concepts that are complex and foreign to us. This collection of ikigai quotes are pulled from the published work of authors and researchers and are responses from everyday Japanese people. I think they will provide you with some valuable insight into how the Japanese relate to ikigai.


ikigai quotes


Ikigai Quotes – What Ikigai Means to Japanese

It seems that the word ikigai exists only in the Japanese language. The fact that this word exists should indicate that the goal to live, its meaning and value within the daily life of the Japanese soul has been problematized. (…) According to the dictionary, ikigai means “power necessary for one to live in this world, happiness to be alive, benefit, effectiveness.”

When we try to translate it into English, German, French etc, it seems that there is no other way to define it other than “worth living” or “value or meaning to live”. Thus, compared to philosophical theoretical concepts, the word ikigai shows us how much the Japaneselanguageisambiguous,but because of this it has an effect of reverberation and amplitude.

M​ieko Kamiya, author of the Ikigai ni Tsuite


There are many ways to define Ikigai. One way to put it is to say that Ikigai is the reason you get up in the morning. It could be something very small like having a cup of coffee and a chocolate. And something that makes your day go on. That is Ikigai.

On the other hand – Ikigai can be a life-defining, very big goal, like going to Mars or winning the Nobel Prize or becoming the Prime Minister of a country. So Ikigai can be something small or something big. So in a nutshell, Ikigai is a spectrum. And the complexity of Ikigai actually reflects the complexity of life itself.

Ken Mogi, author of The Little Book of IKIGAI


Let us now come full circle. What makes life worth living for most Japanese and Americans? It is i​ kigai​, I have maintained, one’s deepest sense of social commitment, most often to one’s dream, family, work, or religious belief. My argument has been that selves in Japan and the United States seek through ​ikigai​ a sense of their social significance and, beyond that, hints if not assurances of their transcendent significance, linking their own meanings to the meaning of life.

Gordon Mathews, author of What Makes Life Worth Living


Japanese well-being should be comprehended in terms of ikigai which is an aspect of daily conversation in Japan. In general, people in Japan are always conscious of ikigai as a common concept and word, and they want to live their lives feeling ikigai. Thus, ikigai is deeply associated with quality of life in Japan.

– Professor Michiko Kumano


“Along with the experience of joy, the experience of suffering also makes life worth living. When we encounter adversity, we endure suffering, challenge it, and overcome it, which makes our life worth living.”

– Professor Yoshikazu Ueda


“There is a difference between ikigai and the sense of well being. Ikigai is more concerned with the future: for example, even when one feels that one’s present life is dark, possessing a desire or goal for the future allows one to feel ikigai.”

Noriyuki Nakanishi


Ikigai translated into English as ‘life purpose’ sounds quite formidable, but ikigai need not be the one overriding purpose of a person’s life. In fact, the word life aligns more with daily life. In other words, ikigai can be about the joy a person finds living day-to-day, without which their life as a whole would not be a happy one.”

– Aikihiro Hasegawa, Associate Professor – Toyo Eiwa University


Young people often say “My life has no ikigai”. This is obvious. People who isolate themselves can’t have ikigai – meaning or purpose. Meaning and purpose is only found in interpersonal relationships.

Tatsuzō Ishikawa


“Find your own IKIGAI by asking yourself how you want to serve your community. If you are undecided, remember your dreams from when you were younger, maybe in your youth. “

Tsutomu Hotta


Wabi Sabi Quotes

Like ikigai, wabi sabi is another misunderstood word outside of Japan, with most people believing it to be an adjective used to describe something imperfect yet beautiful. Japanese don’t use wabisabi this way. Japanese tend to relate the word to the ephemeral nature of nature.

While it can be used as an adjective, the word is generally used as a noun. Wabi Sabi is a state that Japanese sense or feel. It is triggered by something they experience or observe in nature or with a connection to nature, like handmade pottery, that is incomplete and ephemeral.



Wabi sabi takes its meaning from two complimentary notions. The first, wabi, it’s an internal process of seeking beauty and fulfilment from deficiency. The second, sabi, is the grace found in that decay and deterioration caused by the passage of time. Together, these notions form of sensibility that accept the ephemeral fate of the living: celebrating transience and honouring those cracks, crevices and other marks that are left behind by time and tend to use.

– Mari Fujimoto

What is wabi-sabi? It means a fragile beauty or natural simplicity. It is the knowledge that nothing last forever and that everything comes to an end. Thi Buddhist concept has inspired much that is great in Japanese art and poetry, as well as influencing the architecture and design of Japanese homes.

– Akemi Tanaka

Sen no Rikyu, for example, criticised the practice of deliberately creating utensils and settings that have the quality of wabi sabi because for him the most important element was not and found in the outward features of the objects, but in the refined sense of being able to recognise the unseen qualities that exist and each of them. In short, wabi sabi as an aesthetic of the tea ceremony represents a beauty of appreciation in the mind.

Roger J. Davies