Recognizing the Mother of Ikigai

When people talk about ikigai, many people aren't aware of the works of Mieko Kamiya. Mieko Kamiya is a pioneering researcher of the ikigai concept. Unfortunately, she isn't getting proper recognition for her work.
In his book, Ikigai-kan, Nick Kemp introduces Kamiya and her contribution to ikigai.

So if you like to learn more about Mieko Kamiya and explore ikigai in the context of Japanese culture, grab a copy of Ikigai-kan. Visit for more details.

Mieko Kamiya deserves recognition for her work on ikigai.

Nick: My manuscript is here, it’s been formatted and I’m doing a final proofread. And I’m looking at chapter 2. So I’d like to read from it:

When we think of great philosophers, names such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle come to mind. In psychology, pioneers include Wilhelm Wundt, William James, and Sigmund Freud. In the field of positive psychology, Abraham Maslow, Martin Seligman, and Christopher Peterson are considered founding fathers. One name that should be added to shake up this all-boys club is Mieko Kamiya, whose research on ikigai spans all of these fields. I like to think of her as the Mother of Ikigai.”

I think it highlights that women are underrated or not represented in these fields of philosophy and psychology. And I don’t want this to happen, I don’t think we should let this happen in the field or in this cultural aspect of ikigai.

So chapter 2 is The Mother of Ikigai, and we look at the work and life of Mieko Kamiya. And she wrote this book, Ikigai ni Tsuite. It’s a seminal work, it’s referenced by current-day researchers and authors. 

Thankfully, Mieko Kamiya kept her diary which is only being published in Japanese along with her book. But it gives us some incredible insight into her life and into her most personal thoughts. 

In my chapter I share some of those thoughts, and I also share her definition of ikigai, which I’d like to share with you. And I’ll quote from her book, so this is a translation:

There are two ways of using the word ikigai. When someone says ‘this child is my ikigai,’ it refers to the source or target of ikigai, and when one feels ikigai as a state of mind. The latter of these is close to what Viktor Frankl calls ‘the sense of meaning.’ Here I will tentatively call it ‘ikigai-kan’ to distinguish it from the former ‘ikigai.’”

This is actually the reason why I titled my book Ikigai-kan, because as Kamiya stated, we have ikigai sources or objects and an example she used was a child. And we have this state of mind or when one feels a state of mind, which is ikigai-kan. 

So ikigai is something you feel. So I can relate to her example, I have a child, he is my source of ikigai. And when I think about him, I have feelings of love, joy, connection, pride in the young man that he’s becoming, and I have a sense of purpose as a parent.

So in the book, we go into some detail into her life and her work. So I think we need to recognize the contribution of women in these fields of psychology and philosophy. And we definitely need to recognize the work of Mieko Kamiya in the space of ikigai. 

If you’d like to learn more about the book, go to