The Start of Ikigai Journey

Kei Tsuda shares how his discovery of the 'Ikigai Venn Diagram' prompted him to delve into the concept of ikigai extensively, resulting in a profound realization that it encompasses more than what can be represented in a simple diagram.

Applying the ikigai concept

Nick: Growing up in Japan, did you ever give much thought to ikigai? Because obviously, I know that most Japanese don't.

Kei: You are right with that assessment. When I was growing up, I didn't think of it much. I mean, I've been introduced to the word and how it gets used through my conversations with my grandparents. Probably that's the set of people who used it most.

And typically in the context of how they are interacting with me, the grandchild, they basically feel that they, you know, having that close communication with kids, their grandchildren, is part of their ikigai. So I vaguely remember that I'm one of their ikigai. That's the extent

Nick: I remember when living in Japan, I can't really recall hearing ikigai other than a few occasions when I was introduced to it. But I remember hearing yarigai almost at least every week, maybe potentially every day. So that seems far more common. How would you say most Japanese perceive ikigai?

Kei: So I think a lot of the folks in Japan would agree, I think you and I both think about this a lot; that ikigai is something we feel naturally. And in some cases, I think we stumble upon it. We don't necessarily seek as much. Some people do, but I think in general, people don't really look for it. It’s just they feel on a daily basis. And then maybe at some point, they start to realize that oh, I may be pursuing my ikigai.

Nick: It's interesting, because I guess if you're pursuing it or seeking, it would suggest you don't have it. If you're not seeking it, it's obviously something that's part of your life. But I imagine even in that context, most people wouldn't be thinking, ‘Oh, this hobby of mine’s my ikigai.’ They'll just be thinking, I really enjoy this hobby, or I really enjoy seeing my grandchildren.

Kei: We have more of like a more lighthearted stance towards the word in the concept. And we don't necessarily kind of write it on the wall, right? And basically, try to pursue it every day.

Nick: Well, you certainly don't put it in the center of a Venn diagram. And so that's my next question: what are your thoughts on the ikigai Venn diagram that's incredibly popular on LinkedIn, which I know you're pretty active on?

Kei: Yeah, so my initial reaction to it wasn't great. It was somewhat of a shock and disbelief. But what's interesting, and this is how I really got caught, you know, got into this research is, it was really followed by the self-doubt, because as you said, it's so popular.

So when you search the internet, or if you get on LinkedIn, and connect with others, everyone is sharing that Venn diagram. And that part of my experience led to some search. And it just, this whole screen is full of them. And Government of Japan, and a few other website is now starting to get associated with this Venn diagram, that whether they knew it or not, right aside.

So I started to think that maybe my reaction is wrong. So that's why when I started the journey to apply this ikigai concept to work out what I wanted to do next, in my career, in my life, I did force myself to use that Venn diagram.

Part of me basically says, let's kind of give benefit of the doubt that a lot of people like it, so maybe I should start using that. So that's how I kind of started my research or the journey of ikigai.