77 – All Things Ikigai with Kei Tsuda

Do you have a fascination with ikigai?

Many are intrigued by the circulating Ikigai Venn Diagram, which gives people the idea that ikigai is achieved by attaining big goals. However, for the Japanese people, ikigai is not limited to grand goals. Ikigai is something that can be felt by anyone through anything that gives their lives meaning—be it a big goal or a small joy.

In this episode of the Ikigai Podcast, Nick speaks with Kei Tsuda about the beauty and complexity of the ikigai concept.

Ikigai improves quality of life

“Everybody's trying to figure out how to use the ikigai framework or this concept in context like, again, some people may be looking to do a career change. That's one way to use it. In other aspects, people are truly looking for that purpose in life. That's great. But then I'm starting to think, this concept of ikigai could be applied in so many different situations, for the better–for the betterment of people's lives.” - Kei Tsuda

Podcast Highlights

Kei Tsuda

Kei Tsuda

Kei Tsuda is a full-time scholar, researcher, blogger, and facilitator of the LinkedIn Ikigai Study Group. He shares his musings with anyone interested in learning and applying the Japanese concept of ikigai on LinkedIn and Medium.com. He is an ikigai consultant and uses engagement strategies and methodologies to assist individuals and organisations in cultivating change resilience.



Kei’s background

Kei grew up in Japan until the age of 16. Having a desire to become an astronaut, he moved to the US for his higher education. However, his father’s terminal illness brought him back to Japan. Eventually, he returned to the US and pursued a career in information technology for 23 years.

How Japanese people perceive ikigai

For the Japanese people, ikigai is a common word used in conversations. It is something that they feel daily and that comes to them naturally, not something that they seek.

“If you’re seeking ikigai, it would suggest that you don’t have it. If you’re not seeking it, it’s obviously something that’s part of your life.” - Nicholas Kemp

Seeking Ikigai

Thoughts on the Ikigai Venn Diagram

Kei was in disbelief upon seeing the Venn Diagram claiming to represent what ikigai is. However, as he noticed its widespread popularity with many people sharing it, he decided to apply it in his life to test his doubts about the diagram. This marked the beginning of his journey to explore and gain a better understanding of the ikigai concept.

Doing serious research

Kei has always been fascinated by learning about systems and theories. Later, he realised that his motivation stems from applying this knowledge to benefit others. This realisation inspired him to delve into the ikigai concept, recognizing its potential application in all aspects of life to enhance people's well-being.

Viewing LinkedIn as an ideal platform to share his insights on ikigai, he experienced positive engagement and gained followers. To this day, he remains committed to deepening his understanding of the concept and sharing it with others.

Mieko Kamiya’s contribution to ikigai

Kei has read Mieko Kamiya's works on ikigai. Unfortunately, Kamiya didn't receive sufficient recognition for her contributions to ikigai. This prompted Kei to write an article on Medium.com, highlighting Kamiya's six characteristics of ikigai, in the hope of gaining broader acknowledgment for her work.broader acknowledgment for her work.

The six characteristics of ikigai

In her book, Mieko Kamiya outlines six characteristics of ikigai that assist readers in understanding what a source of ikigai is:

  1. Ikigai gives its holders an ‘ikigai-kan (ikigai feeling)’

  2. Ikigai does not necessarily relate to practical benefits or advantages in one’s life

  3. Ikigai-led activities possess the spontaneity of ‘doing it because I want to do it’

  4. Ikigai is entirely individualistic; it cannot be borrowed or imitated

  5. Ikigai holds the nature of establishing a value system in the heart of the person who possesses it

  6. Ikigai creates a unique spiritual world within which the holder may live freely

Kei resonates with how Kamiya points out that ikigai is entirely individualistic and holds the nature of establishing a value system in the heart of the person who possesses it, indicating that each of us has our own experiences that shape us. This idea helped him visualise his ikigai and create his own value system.

Ikigai is something that people feel

“Ikigai could look the same, but how you achieved it or how you brought it together is a completely different experience.” - Kei Tsuda

Ikigai Tribe Difference Experience

Kei thinks of ikigai as a collection of feelings. An example he gave was the experience of building a LEGO block: people may have the same outcome, but the experience of building it is unique for each individual. It can also be a collaborative experience, similar to how we share our ikigai experiences with people who share the same values.

Money as a source of ikigai

“It’s easier to find ikigai when you remove that money component on the framework.” - Kei Tsuda

Remove the money

Money is not a requirement for people to feel ikigai in their lives. However, Kei believes that some people can find ikigai in earning money, especially when it is associated with making a living for themselves and their families.

Kei’s source of ikigai

For Kei, researching about ikigai is an ikigai source for him. Mieko Kamiya wrote in her book that ikigai creates a unique spiritual world within which the holder may live freely. This is how Kei would describe his feelings when exploring the concept of ikigai—the sensation of living in a unique spiritual world.


Recognizing that ikigai is something that we feel, rather than a big goal to achieve, may help us in pursuing more activities and relationships that give us more meaning. Taking the time to understand the intricacies of this beautiful concept may help us to realise that there is more to it than being incorporated into a Venn diagram.