Ikigai, Wabi Sabi, Ichigo Ichie: 3 books on Japanese wisdom to simplify your life and work

Ikigai, Wabi Sabi, Ichigo Ichie: 3 books on Japanese wisdom to simplify your life and work

Japanese wisdom has inspired people all over the globe, for ages – but three concepts have in recent years become significantly popular: Ikigai, Wabi Sabi, and Ichigo Ichie. Here’s what these books have to tell you.

Repackaged books on Japanese wisdom are now visible at every bookstore Repackaged books on Japanese wisdom are now visible at every bookstore

Go to any bookstore and you will find a few titles on Japanese wisdom on the front shelf. While essential Japanese philosophies have been known of and been in business and management practice all over the world, there clearly now is a wider appeal of these books – repackaged and resold as they are. Here’s what they are about and why it is a good idea to pick them for a quick read. 

Ikigai by Francesc Miralles and Hector Garcia 


Ikigai – the Japanese concept of finding out your professional sweet spot became popular over recent years with publishers bringing it out in English. According to official records by Penguin Random House which has been distributing the book in India, the Ikigai book and its sequel, The Ikigai Journey have already sold over one lakh copies in the country since their launch a year ago.

Directly translated, Ikigai refers to the ‘art of living which is also the practice of living a purposeful life with respect to an individual’s sense of self. Written by Francesc Miralles and Hector Garcia Puigcerver, Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life discusses the idea of finding out the reason for one’s professional being – in the intersection of what one loves, what the world needs, what one is good at and what one can be paid for.

The book illustrates how villagers of Okinawa live by these rules due to which centenarians among these villagers experience a considerably low rate of heart disease and dementia. 

What are the core effects of following one’s Ikigai? An active, fulfilled life with a sense of achievement and well-being. This is not just a book to be read but owned.  


Ichigo Ichie by Hector Garcia


The popular concept of Kaizen in Japan speaks of making small improvements every day toward achieving big results. The book of Ichigo Ichie takes it a step further and filters time into moments and speaks of mindfulness. Being aware of every moment and being able to make the most of it could make every moment of life special.

In business, Ichigo Ichie can enhance the economy and eliminate wastefulness. In daily life, true meaning can be derived by living what a moment holds. When each moment is rich, life has no possibility of being any less than meaningful and satisfying. Just like the 16th Century Japanese tea ceremony where drinking tea was elevated to a slow ritual of wise consumption – Ichigo Ichie urges the reader to coax each moment of life to its inherent potential of fullness.

Read it to reduce mindless pursuits and bring more meaning to your daily life.  


Wabi Sabi by Nobuo Suzuki 

Wabi Sabi is the Japanese endorsement of imperfection as a way of life. No person is perfect and there is beauty in imperfection. The Wabi Sabi argument is about how perfection can be counterproductive. Perfection is subjective and imperfection is real.

Wabi Sabi shows how we can embrace imperfection in our daily life to live closer to our bliss and joy. Wabi Sabi shows how embracing imperfection can help us refocus on what is important and evolve as accepting human beings. By freeing ourselves of the shackles of perfection we are able to create space in our mind, home, life, practice, and work to accommodate more and achieve more.

Wabi Sabi is also celebrated in Japanese art forms to show an open-hearted acceptance of effort and intention and thus leading to the creation of space for experimentation and free expression. This book holds the promise of reducing censure and unlocking flow in your world.