Pass Something on to The Next Generation

Naoko Tomita passionately shares her ikigai, dedicated to constructing a brighter future for the upcoming generations.

Living responsibly for the sake of future generations

Naoko: At the very end of your last interview with Miki-san, you gave me a chance to talk about my ikigai. And since I was not prepared at all, you all of a sudden just asked me what is my ikigai, and I think I answered something that was not what I intended.

So I appreciate if you can give me some time to reconsider once more. Thinking about ikigai, the most recent time I have heard this word ikigai in my life was from my father, seven or eight years ago.

So ikigai is a very popular word and everybody knows the meaning in heart. But it's very hard to define it in Japan. But anyway, I heard that word from dad, and I remember that. And it was around a time when my mother began to suffer from dementia, and was finally unable to take care of herself.

At that time, my father said to me, ‘Well, now I found my ikigai.’ It is to take care of my mom. And this has a little story behind. About 20 years ago, my father became visually impaired, and ever since, he lost his joy of living in many ways. He did have fun, but anyway, I'm sure he lost a lot of joy.

However, when he had to face my mother's disease, he found the meaning of his existence in taking care of my mother, and it came out from his mouth as the word ikigai.

Nick: Wow, what a beautiful interpretation. I mean it ties in, obviously, relationship and love, but maybe also that gave him a new purpose to care about someone he truly loves. So I think the relationship aspect of ikigai is really important, that being needed or helping others, or your role as you know, father, husband, wife, mother, can also be a source of ikigai. That's beautiful. Thank you for sharing that.

Naoko: Thank you. So I thought about that, oh, my father said that word ikigai. And so, in my father's case, the word ikigai may be word that shines in the absence of ikigai and in the presence of some negative aspects they have in their lives.

Something such as a boring or painful day-to-day life, or some kind of there's this darkness and you find the ikigai in the dark. So looking back in my case, I've always chased after what I truly wanted to do, and it has brought a lot of excitement and joy, and waku waku to my life.

So I never had to think about ikigai, I was just alive. I was just ikite iru in Japanese. But since he asked me, I took time and thought about it once more, that what makes me feel it is ikigai. And I tried to apply all my waku waku things, whether they are ikigai or not.

But most of them sounded okay, but little unsuitable for the word ikigai. But one thing came to my mind that 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. And well, therefore, maybe I thought that this is my ikigai—that my ikigai is the desire to hand over a better world to the next generation. So thanks to you, I came to this conclusion that it links directly to Willwind, what I'm doing.