013 – Ken Mogi Returns To Talk About The Kodawari Spirit


"Kodawari is a personal standard, to which the individual adheres to in a steadfast manner. It is often, though not always, used in reference to a level of quality or professionalism to which the individual holds. It is an attitude, often maintained throughout one’s life, constituting a central element of ikiagi. An approach whereby you take extraordinary care of very small details."  - Ken Mogi


In the many aspects of the ikigai concept in Japan, there's one interesting twist which is kodawari. Kodawari is when craftsman or ramen restaurant owners go beyond the reasonable expectation of the market. They really work really hard to refine the quality of their products.

In the case of a ramen shop, the owner or chef might have kodawari- sticking to sticking a high standard and really trying to make the best of noodles and soups and ingredients and so on. And the customers might not actually notice the difference. Only the chef will notice the difference.

So in terms of market strategy, it doesn't make sense because even if you make that small improvement many customers wouldn't notice, so as a marketing strategy it is a stupid act, but many ramen restaurant owners in Japan actually do this in their spirit of kodawari.

It is a really interesting phenomenon seen in Japan. For hobbyists, making dolls, for example, they make dolls with such detailed craftsmanship, and many people don’t notice the difference but for them, it makes a world of difference

This spirit of kodawari is not something that you can expect to learn from the classrooms of MBA. It's not something that would be taught at Harvard business school.

It is something that is probably not adaptive. If you have kodawari you cannot make quick money or have super profit, but you have your inner satisfaction. That is very important because everything comes and stirs from inner satisfaction. And only you know the standard. So that is the beauty of the kodawari spirit in Japan. And, I think it is a very important element of ikigai for Japanese people.

Ken Mogi On The Importance of Kodawari in the Philosophy of Ikigai


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