Mieko Kamiya is a pioneering researcher of ikigai who initially explored questions like 'What does it really mean to have ikigai?' and 'What makes one's life worth living?’
Waki Kamino highlights how Kamiya's work maintains a profound and lasting influence across various fields to this day.
Getting to know an inspiring woman
Nick: So what do you know of Kamiya Mieko?
Waki: I think as far as we understand, she is a pioneer of ikigai research. Really the catalyst back in 1960. So she's really the one as from perspective of, I guess, clinical psychiatrist, started this up, asking this question: ‘What it really means to have ikigai?’ ‘What makes one life worth living?’
And her work, I think, she basically theorized what constitutes ikigai and made a clear distinction, which is ikigai as a source of ikigai and feeling of ikigai. I think that really, her work is highly influential across different fields today. It's what I understand.
Nick: Yeah, that's my go to answer for the question ‘what’s ikigai?’ is that you have ikigai sources or ikigai objects, and then you have ikigai-kan, that's something you feel. You can feel it in your body sometimes.
So, yeah, it'd be good to see her work published in other languages, but I think that's unlikely. I've checked the copyright, and it's 70 years in Japan. So there's like another 15 years before we could freely translate her book into English.
Yeah, she was amazing. She was also a translator, a linguist. She tutored the former Empress Michiko, she has the most incredible CV — so very inspiring person.