Why Choose Ikigai-Kan as the Book Title?

Inspired by the work of Mieko Kamiya, a pioneering researcher of ikigai, Nick Kemp chose Ikigai-kan as the title of his book. Ikigai-kan means a feeling of ikigai, which he wants his readers to understand: that ikigai is something that people feel.

Grab a copy of IKIGAI-KAN: Feel a Life Worth Living. Visit ikigaikan.com for more details.

The book title, Ikigai-kan, is a homage to Kamiya Mieko.

Caitlin: So just one last thing, really to kind of think about, well, a couple of things, I guess, to think about the basics of the book, the introduction to the book, how did you come up with the title? 

Because I know you thought about it long and hard. So where did that title come from? And what do you hope that like, when people see that, what are they going to think of when they look at your book?

Nick: Yeah, this was an interesting opportunity, because I thought there are so many books using the title ikigai, and you know, the secret to, or the Japanese way of. And I was lucky that I did a lot of research. And I found, I guess someone I would love to meet. 

And I see her as the mother of ikigai. And she is the pioneering researcher, who wrote the seminal book on the concept, called Ikigai-ni-Tsuite, which would translate to mean "About Ikigai" or "On ikigai."

And she actually defined the concept using both the word ikigai, or the words ikigai and ikigai-kan. So ikigai-kan are the emotions and feelings you experience when you feel that life is worth living. It's similar to Viktor Frankl's sense of meaning from his book, Man's Search for Meaning. 

So as the most genuine thing about ikigai are our emotions, I wanted to use that title to highlight the theme of the book, but also to pay homage to Mieko Kamiya. This amazing woman, who I think should be recognized as the mother of ikigai.

Caitlin: So that then relates to the kanji character that you've got on the book cover. So what's the meaning of this character? And what made you decide to feature it so prominently? Because it is right in the center, people are immediately drawn to it.

Nick: So this is a real joy for me to show because actually, this is my design as well. And I never really was good at design, but the kanji character is kan. So it has many meanings, but it's a very fun and a very well-balanced, dynamic, beautiful, eye-catching kanji.

And it has multiple meanings -- that can include feeling, sensation, emotion, admiration, impression, perception, and awareness.

And because I talk about kan so much in the book, not just ikigai-kan, but all these different types of other kan it just made sense to have the kanji on my book, and I wanted again to do it in a way that, I guess, which I put a lot of thought into the cover so that the cover, the actual background is a photo of washi paper.

On the spine I have my inka my kakunin inka which is a seal that was specially designed for my community. Then on the back, I have a framework that the readers can dive into the book. But that's another hat tip, I guess, to Mieko Kamiya.

So yeah, the whole process of designing the cover and coming up with the title, the kanji, and then even the tagline feel a life worth living. And as you know, I had quite a few discussions with my ikigai tribe members on what should I use for the title or the subtitle, but in the end, I had to come to a decision and be comfortable with that.

So I'm really comfortable with Ikigai-kan: Feel a Life Worth Living.

IKIGAI-KAN: Feel a Life Worth Living

Ikigai is a greatly misunderstood concept outside of Japan. It’s not a word from Okinawa. It’s not the Japanese secret to longevity. It’s not an entrepreneurial Venn diagram framework.

This evidence-based book clears up the misconceptions of Japan's most misunderstood word and culturally appropriated concept and offers an authentic perspective of the concept in the context of Japanese culture.

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