74 – Sustainable Horizons: Shaping a Better World for Tomorrow with Naoko Tomita

What would you like to pass on to future generations?

Amid the alarming concern of global warming, it becomes imperative to contemplate sustainable practices aimed at safeguarding nature for future generations. This could be achieved by adopting Sustainable Development Goals, particularly encouraging businesses to lead the way in creating a better living environment for everyone.

In this episode of the Ikigai Podcast, Nick speaks with Naoko Tomita about adopting Sustainable Development Goals within businesses, aiming to forge a better future for all.

Creating a better world for next generation

“One thing came to my mind: living a responsible and joyful life, imagining about what to pass to the next generation, is my ikigai. The reason I can say this is my ikigai is because not being able to live for the next generation gives me a negative feeling. If I'm not living to pass something on to the next generation, I would lose hope, and wouldn't know what purpose to live for now. 

So even if I enjoy waku waku in daily life, I would feel a certain sense of worthlessness. Therefore, maybe I thought that this is my ikigai. And my ikigai is the desire to hand over a better world to the next generation.” - Naoko Tomita

Podcast Highlights

Naoko Tomita

Naoko Tomita Ikigai Tribe

Naoko Tomita is a graduate of Keio University from the Faculty of Policy Studies. She has previously worked as a management consultant at Arthur Andersen. Additionally, she holds a Six Sigma Black Belt from GE and has served as a project leader at AIG (American International Group).

Currently, she is organising workshops to create a world where all life shines together ‘as it should be’ and lives abundantly on the planet**.** She is an authorised facilitator for "2030 SDGs," "SDGs Outside In," "SDGs for Rural Development," "Design Sprint," and "zenschool." Naoko currently supervises the "SDGs Corner" of Orange Page magazine and is the co-author of "SDGs Amazing Companies.

Helping with Kouji Miki's Zen school

Naoko works with Kouji Miki at his Zen school, which aims to enhance people’s mental abilities. It's a six-month course where participants endeavour to discover their worldview and determine what they truly want to pursue. This program aids individuals in uncovering waku waku (exciting) opportunities that may lead to business prospects.


Naoko owns a company called Willwind, which signifies carrying our will on the wind and passing it to the future. The company logo comprises leaves symbolising the essence of a 'rich and fertile golden land, blue ocean, and green forest,' which Naoko aims to pass on to future generations.

It's a family company founded in 2005. Willwind assists companies and individuals in understanding the significance of sustainability as per the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and generating regenerative business ideas through workshops or Zen school sessions.

willwind logo

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Naoko's work aligns with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2015, all United Nations Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, providing a shared blueprint for fostering peace and prosperity for both people and the planet, both now and in the future. Comprising a total of 17 goals, each with specific targets to be achieved by 2030, these objectives represent an urgent call to action for all countries, whether developed or developing, fostering a global partnership.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals include: 

  1. No poverty

  2. Zero hunger

  3. Good health and well-being

  4. Quality Education

  5. Gender equality

  6. Clean water and sanitation

  7. Affordable and clean energy

  8. Decent work and economic growth

  9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure

  10. Reduced inequalities

  11. Sustainable cities and economies

  12. Responsible consumption and production

  13. Climate action

  14. Life below water

  15. Life on land

  16. Peace, justice and strong institutions

  17. Partnership for the goals

“While 17 goals seems to be a lot, the SDGs are inherently interconnected, where the achievement of each goal influences others.  So a comprehensive approach towards overall sustainable development is necessary.” - Naoko Tomita

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals

Willwind’s sustainable development goals

Willwind aims to provide quality education and partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals—learning and creating a new future together. They offer an SDG card game, where people input the goals they want to achieve by 2030. Participants allocate money and time to pursue their goals, evaluating whether they can achieve the SDGs.

Undergoing personal transformation

Since her childhood, Naoko has always been fascinated by nature and has pondered the future of mankind. In 1993, she began her career as a consultant and project manager in Tokyo, working with several American and European companies. She took on this role to gain a broader perspective of the world and to clarify her true aspirations.

During her travels to Australia and New Zealand in December 2004, while engaging in dialogue with Mother Nature, she realised that there is no single correct answer to how the human race should live. This realisation led her to the idea that our task is to create the future we desire to inhabit. This marked a turning point in her life, prompting her to establish her small business in 2005—Willwind.

“It came to my mind that maybe I can create and provide an opportunity where we can all continue to ask ourselves about the ideal world that we want to live in. I couldn't stop being excited about this idea of spending my lifetime facing this open question with others throughout providing facilitation service.” - Naoko Tomita

The Ideal World

This corresponds to one of Mieko Kamiya’s ikigai needs—the desire for a bright future, an anticipation that life will evolve in a new direction.

Waku waku

Waku waku is a term that Naoko often uses; it represents the bouncing of the heart—the feeling of excitement. Currently, waku waku for her is moving to a tiny house in a rural seaside town in Japan called Tateyama. There’s no public water system there, just well water. This move is significant for Naoko, but at the same time, it's beneficial for her studies related to the SDGs. She aims to experiment with many things and make the town a regenerative community.

“If I could transform myself by having a different daily life, I thought I might find a clue to transform the world as well.” - Naoko Tomita

Transform the World

Providing workshops

Naoko provides workshops for companies on SDGs. This year, in collaboration with a biodiversity teacher, Naoko started work on creating a Biotope pond. A Biotope is a place where birds, insects, and microorganisms create their own ecosystem.

In essence, if we sustainably utilise water from the well and return used water to the land, similar to how a tree draws water from the ground and contributes to the soil, it fosters a cycle that revitalises the environment. This process enhances water circulation, rejuvenates the land, and supports local flora and fauna. By creating new habitats like ponds, it invites diverse bird species to the area. These activities promote biodiversity, showcasing how human actions can enrich the Earth as part of the ecological community.

“This is an interesting concept, this idea that man can be a part of nature in a sort of productive and healthy way, and we are part of that biodiversity.” - Nicholas Kemp

Nature and Man

Naoko’s ikigai

For Naoko, Ikigai involves living a responsible and joyful life while envisioning what she can pass onto the next generation. Not striving to leave something for future generations deprives her of hope and purpose in life. She aspires to leave a better world to the next generation.


Having sustainable development goals is not only beneficial for us but also for future generations, enabling them to witness the beauty of nature. It's commendable that companies like Willwind exist to promote sustainable practices for businesses. These efforts pave the way for a more responsible and environmentally conscious future.