Book Review – Ikigai

Blue book with sakura flowers and Ikigai written on it
Ikigai – A book review

I am taking part in the Write Tribe Reading Challenge and I have opted to read 24 books this year (though I am hoping to read more). There are 24 prompts given, and this book adheres to three of them:

3) A book written by someone of a different nationality/color/ethnic group than you

1o) A book set in a country that you visited/want to visit

23) A book you bought just because of its cover/a book with a beautiful cover


For a few months now, I have been thinking this and thinking a lot –

Why am I put on this earth? What is the reason behind my living? What is the purpose of my life?

We all have been told since childhood that we come to this earth for a purpose and as soon as we finish it, we go back to where we come from.

Well, I am approaching midlife and it is extremely painful to admit that I have not realized the purpose of my life. So, when I came across this book, which came with high recommendations, I thought let me give it a try and see for myself.

You must be wondering how a book could have helped me find the answers to my questions. Well, the book is called Ikigai – The Japanese Secret To A Long and Happy Life.

With a title like that, I thought I had stumbled upon the philosopher’s stone. So I started this book on a high note and with high expectations.

About the book:

Ikigai is a Japanese term which is French for raison d’etre – the reason for being. It is written by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles.

It talks about the Japanese island of Okinawa, which is known for residents who live longer than anywhere else in the world. They have found their Ikigai, their reason to live or the reason to jump out of bed in the morning. And that is their key to longevity and bliss. The Okinawans are simple people who work in their kitchen gardens/farms, eat fresh produce from their farms, move a lot, socialize in their community and keep themselves busy with one thing or the other.

The book gives out 5 secrets to longevity:

  • Don’t worry. The secret to a long life is not to worry and to keep your heart young.
  • Cultivate good habits like waking up early, exercising a little, working in the vegetable garden.
  • Nurture your friendships every day. Get together with friends and neighbours.
  • Live an unhurried life. The secret to a long life is to slow down.
  • Be optimistic. Consider yourself young and stay positive.

What I like about the book

The book is written in a simple language that can be understood by all. The content of the book is well explained with the help of diagrams, charts, scientific research and well researched examples.

The book talks about simple but valuable life lessons that every person should follow to live a happy life. For example, it asks people to

  • focus on the present and enjoy each moment that life brings us,
  • not eat to the heart’s content, but practice the 80 percent rule, which is when you notice you’re almost full but could have a little more, stop eating.
  • smile, give thanks and reconnect with nature.

We have learnt these lessons while growing up, however we have lost touch with them.

One thing in particular made me stop and think. It was the chapter on Multitasking. Most of us are proud of our multitasking skills and don’t leave an opportunity to boast about it.

The book busts some myths.

“We often think that combining tasks will save us time, but scientific evidence shows that it has the opposite effect.”

Multitasking is not very productive. In fact, people who claim to be good at multitasking are some of the least productive people. Our brains can take in millions of bits of information, but can actually process only a few out of them at a single time. Hence, we end up switching back and forth between tasks. The end result – instead of focusing on one job and doing it well, we spend all our energy alternating between tasks.

Where I feel it lacks

While Ikigai has some very important life lessons to give, I was still not satisfied when the book ended. Because for me the book didn’t achieve its purpose.

The book says that we need to find Ikigai to live a long happy life. True! But that’s where I started, right. How to find my Ikigai and what are the ways to find one. The book doesn’t answer that.

Also, the book talks about the people of Okinawa who live a long life by tending to their vegetable gardens and eating fresh produce. But it’s not practical for city dwellers. I would have loved to know how people living in a city can still live a long life. Yes, quitting stressful jobs and going back to the village and farms would be lovely, but it is hardly practical for all.


Ikigai is an inspiring book, it will help you to leave the stress and slow down. While it may not help you find the purpose of your life, it will help you to nurture relationships and motivate you to follow your passion.

It will teach you to live your everyday life more joyfully.