What is Houkousei?

In his study on the temporal aspect of ikigai, Dr. Shintaro Kono shares that his interviewees (Japanese university students) often use the word houkousei when they talk about where they are and where they want to be in the future. What is houkousei?

Nick and Dr. Shintaro Kono discuss what houkousei (directionality) is and how it is related to ikigai.

Nick: Well, let's define the word houkousei, how would you define it?

Shintaro: According to the Japanese dictionary, houkou means direction, and the last part sei is a suffix that doesn't really have a meaning in itself, but it just adds an abstract nature to the word. So it's really directioness, directedness.

But the Japanese students that I talked to use the word expression in such a way that talking about this, I wouldn't say choose, but it's a bit of loose sense of where they're coming from, and where they are, and where they want to go in the future.

So that really is the connection, associations across the past, present, and future. And really having some understanding, some connections across them, those things are not just accumulation of random events, actions and experiences, but there are some meaningful connections among them.

Nick: It was interesting that you noted that your interviewees  freely use this word when discussing the past, present and future. So it wasn't a word that you led with, it was a word they used.

Shintaro: I think, yeah, typically Japanese people use it in a daily conversation, it's a very loose, meaning that people often refer to the future. 

Even in a business context as well, talking about some strategic plan, for example, we use this word houkou or houkousei in a way. 

But in this context, in terms of ikigai, students tend to mention the past current as well as the current, to the future, all connections were important.