Win a Copy of “The Little Book of Ikigai”


“Ikigai”, or “reason for living”, is a staple concept underpinning Japanese life. Find out all about it with this eye-opening new guide. We have six copies to give away - the first prize winner will also win a 6-month tea subscription!

Ever wondered how to live a meaningful life? Well, wonder no more - “The Little Book of Ikigai”, a new Japanese guide to finding your purpose in life, will tell you everything you need to know.

In case you haven’t heard of it before, “ikigai” is the hot new trend -  Hector Garcia’s Spanish book on it published in 2016 sold 10,000 copies and will be published in English later this year. Now you can get your explanation of this homegrown Japanese philosophy “straight from the horse’s mouth” with this neat new guide by the well-known Japanese neuroscientist and writer Ken Mogi.

The Little Book of Ikigai front cover 

What is “ikigai”?

“Ikigai” comes from the Japanese for “iki" (to live) and "gai" (reason). Much like raison d’etre in French, the Japanese talk about “ikigai” as 'a reason to get up in the morning'. In fact, an understanding of “ikigai” is deeply embedded in Japanese daily life and in everything Japanese people do, from their professional careers, to their family relationships, to the hobbies they cultivate so meticulously.

Why do we need “ikigai”?

The concept of “ikigai” is an important motivational philosophy underpinning life in Japan that helps Japanese people to tackle their professional and personal commitments with enthusiasm, whether they are a shinkansen cleaner, the parent of a newborn child, or a Michelin-starred sushi chef. 

It has also been described as a miracle recipe for living a longer and happier life, which may go some way to explaining Japanese people’s extraordinary longevity; Japanese women's longevity ranks 2nd in the world, while Japanese men's ranks 4th. In fact, a Japanese study published in 2008 identified the Japanese sense “ikigai” as a major factor promoting longevity by reducing cardiovascular disease and possibly even cancer. Other studies have linked it to good health, happiness, and community-building.

The fact that “ikigai” plays such an important role in Japanese well-being and longevity shows how important the concept is to the Japanese way of life. But how do you find “ikigai”? That is where Ken Mogi’s “The Little Book of Ikigai” book comes in. Now you can get some of this powerful philosophy for yourself by reading his expertly-written pocket-sized introduction to this all-important Japanese value.

How To Practice “Ikigai”

Origami cranes, Hiroshima

“The Little Book of Ikigai” is designed to help people outside Japan understand and discover their own sense of life’s purpose. In it, Mogi answers some key questions about “ikigai”:

• How do you find it?
• How does it contribute to happiness?
• Can it help you to be more successful - or even rich?
• How do the cognitive factors behind it contribute to good health and longevity?

According to Mogi, “ikigai” can be practiced in a variety of ways. Some people find it in their professional careers, others in supporting family members, while still others discover it in their hobbies or interests, whether it is traditional cultural pursuits such as bonsai trees, origami, and dance, or other pastimes such as collecting, cookery, trainspotting or nature. The practice of “ikigai” can be as formal and structured as a craftsperson creating a beautiful lacquered bowl, or as simple as packing a tasty lunchbox for schoolchildren. 

What are the Characteristics of "Ikigai"?

Bonsai tree

Regardless of the exact method, Mogi identifies four key characteristics uniting all the ways of practising “ikigai” that we could all benefit from focusing more on:

  1. Getting the small things right
  2. Taking the time you need
  3. Enjoying a sense of achievement
  4. Establishing a sense of mutual support and community

Join Mogi as he explores these aspects and more of this fascinating traditional Japanese idea, incorporating first-hand experience and scientific research, and providing a colourful narrative of Japanese culture along the way.

The book offers an insider’s view of “ikigai”, combining insights from Mogi’s perspective as a Japanese person born and brought up in a culture of “ikigai” with contemporary science. As a well-known neuroscientist, the book also draws heavily on Mogi’s scientific knowledge of how the brain works, and he effortlessly interweaves insights from a psychological and cognitive approach, lending the book an intriguing and convincing extra scientific angle.

“The Little Book of Ikigai” offers readers an absorbing insight into the miracle that is the Japanese people's record-breaking long life and astonishing good health. Be warned - this book might not only change but also prolong your life!

Win a Copy of the Book - and a Tea Subscription!

Whisking matcha green tea

We have six free copies of “The Little Book of Ikigai” to give away to lucky SeeJapan readers. The first prize winner will also receive a 6-month tea subscription from the Japan Centre, while the five runners up will each receive a copy of the book.
The first prize winner will benefit from monthly deliveries of Marukyu Koyamaen Chigi no Shiro Premium Stone Ground Matcha Green Tea Powder, 40g, from the Japan Centre, London’s premier Japanese shopping destination, to sip on while perusing their copy of the book.
To enter, simply email your name and postal address to with “Ikigai book giveaway” in the title, telling us what activity you do gives you “ikigai”. We will randomly select the winner on the 16th October, and post the book during the same week. Good luck!
Alternatively, “The Little Book of Ikigai” can be purchased here from Quercus Books for £9.99 (hardback) from 7th September 2017.

About the Author

Ken Mogi is a Japanese neuroscientist, writer and broadcaster based in Tokyo. He has published more than 30 papers on cognitive and neurosciences, and over 100 books in Japan covering popular science, essay, criticism and self-help. His books have sold close to 1 million copies.

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