What is The Kodawari Concept?

Japanese people are known for the efforts they give in everything they do. They have this term, kodawari (relentless pursuit of perfection), which they apply in their crafts. What is this Japanese concept of kodawari? Ken Mogi explains and gives an example of this concept.

Nick: You've been really prolific in the last few months on YouTube with an English channel sharing gold nuggets of wisdom. So I really enjoy your YouTube videos and I'll definitely link your channel. Why did you decide to start that?

Ken: I've always had my Japanese YouTube channel and posted something in English from time to time but because of this pandemic many of my travel assignments have been cancelled, so I had some extra time to do something.

Nick: You seem to really enjoy sharing knowledge. So let's do that today with this concept of Kodawari.

Ken, you describe kodawari as “a central element of ikigai; an approach whereby you take extraordinary care of very small details.” 

So would you like to elaborate on that?

Ken: I think the typical example would be a ramen noodle restaurant where the owner-chef has such a kodawari about how to make the noodles and soup and ingredients, toppings and so on.

You'll interestingly find out many customers might not actually be aware of the extra length that he would go to make his bowl of ramen noodle, just perfect. People don't care so much. He has this really developed sensitivities of how the noodles should taste in your mouth.

So, I think kodawari is this idea that you have your own rules, you have your own standards and whether it's not supported by the customer or would be appreciated by the market, you do your kodawari anyway.

This is something that goes beyond the market economy and something that is more individualistic and more philosophical even if other people don't notice, you do what you want to do, that is kodawari.