Book Review – Ikagai

Ikigai The Japanese Secret to a long and Happy Life
By Francesc Miralles and Hector Garcia

Penguin Books
Rating **

Ikigai translates as ‘a reason to live’ or ‘a reason to jump out of bed in the morning’. It’s the place where your needs, desires, ambitions, and satisfaction meet: a point of perfect balance, and perfect fulfilment.

On the Japanese island of Okinawa, people live longer than anywhere else in the world. There, finding your ikigai is considered the key to longevity – and to happiness. The Okinawans know that all lives are valuable; for them, your ikigai is the lens that will help bring your value into focus.

Both inspiring and comforting, this book will help you uncover your own ikigai, and equip you to change your life. Leave stress and urgency behind, and throw yourself into finding your purpose, nurturing your friendships, and pursuing your passions.

This book isn’t what I expected, not only am I still unsure of what Ikigai means but I’m also unsure of how to find it. I bought this for £2.99 on ibooks one Sunday afternoon, I just wanted an easy, chilled, mindful and insightful book. However I didn’t feel like I got any of that with this. This book really didn’t give me anything that I hadn’t read before in other books and magazines. Telling me to eat healthy, exercise, stay positive and be mindful are all things I have practised, learnt and read about before. This “Japanese Secret” didn’t feel like a secret at all. What makes these things Ikigai? There must be more to it than that, I felt that the authors findings and ideas were just not trustworthy.

There is an exercise section in the book which has diagrams of how to follow some complex yoga and tai chi moves. If you were to try and follow these diagrams you would most likely fail, especially the tai chi one. Tai chi is a hard art to master and a couple of small drawings in a book isn’t going to help you achieve this at all. I skipped most of the exercise parts as the diagrams were annoying me.

The only highlight of this book were quotes from the old people living in???? and their own secret to living a long life for example Misao Okawa 117 years old says “eat and sleep and you’ll live al ong time, you have to learn to relax” but the more I read the more I realised everyone had a different opinion. Some said exercise, some friends, some said getting up early, some said crafting and arts. Everyone had a different “secret” which made me think… is all of this Ikigai? Or are these people just lucky they have lived so long… maybe it’s something in the water? Although their opinions interested me it still gave me no light onto what they thought Ikigai was.

I think the beautiful cover hooked me in with this book, I felt like the idea was good but execution poor. As I said before I still have no idea what Ikigai is so I think a quick Google search is in order to find out. This book didn’t give me any new information or insight into Japanese culture that I was looking for. A pleasant Sunday quick read that I was glad I didn’t pay full price for.

Have you read Ikigai? Did you enjoy it? Do you know what it means? If so let me know! Thanks for reading. Katie x

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