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Book Review: The Little Book of Ikigai by Ken Mogi

Book review: The Little Book of Ikigai by Ken Mogi. The Essential Japanese Way to Finding Your Purpose in Life.

Hygge was last year’s trend, this year it’s Ikigai. It’s a concept that the Japanese roughly translate as “a reason to get up in the morning”. Supposedly it’s the secret to their record-breaking longevity, sensory beauty and mindfulness, too. Sounds pretty amazing right? I was keen to read The Little Book of Ikigai to see what all the fuss is about!

It’s impossible to describe ikigai in just one sentence because it means so many different things and is likely to be interpreted a little different by every single one of us. However, there are five foundational pillars that are key to ikigai:

Pillar 1: Starting small
Pillar 2: Releasing yourself
Pillar 3:Harmony and sustainability
Pillar 4:The joy of little things
Pillar 5:Being in the here and now

It’s not hard to see the connection between ikigai and the growing trend of “mindfulness”. What is interesting, however, is that this concept has existed in Japan for centuries and centuries and is ingrained in their very culture.ย 

Having just visited Japan, it was fascinating to learn more about what makes Japanese people tick. Many of the things Ken Mogi explains in The Little Book of Ikigai are things that I noticed myself in Japan, but couldn’t understand.

For one, they are the most polite nation of people I have ever encountered. Another thing is that they keep their country incredibly clean – despite the lack of bins! Knowing that the five pillars ikigai drive most Japanese people, I now understand how these things may have come to be.

I didn’t expect author Ken Mogi to give us such a detailed and intricate insight into Japanese history and culture in his ikigai book. All of the examples he uses are deeply rooted in Japanese culture from sumo wrestling to Comiket, a Japanese comic book convention.

He uses examples from the present day and from the 17th century, showing how the concept of ikigai is seeped into every aspect of Japanese life throughout history. This only proves that ikigai is for everyone. For every single person on this planet, regardless of age or gender. It’s a movement that transcends time and I hope it is something that we in the West can learn from and adopt ourselves.

Ikigai will remind you to enjoy the little things in life. To really think about what it is that makes you happy and encourage you to work on it, little by little, with no expectation of reward. This is the true path to being happy with oneself. Many people find Ikigai leads them to success, but many will not. No matter what though, we are all equal.

All aspirations are given equal importance whether it is creating a leading global business or drawing a picture that pleases you. Mogi’s book reminds us that success and money aren’t everything and that if we appreciate the here and now, the small moments that make up the bigger picture of life, we can find our own purpose in life and be happy.

All in all, The Little Book of Ikigai: The Essential Japanese Way to Finding Your Purpose in Lifeย is a really insightful and motivational read. It’s quite short so you’ll zip through it in a couple of hours and if you don’t feel like your perspective on the little things in life has changed then go back and read it all again.

For fans of Japanese culture and those that know it well, this may just give you a fresh perspective on the things you already know and love about Japan. For those that know nothing about Ikigai or Japan, this should be an enlightening and eye opening read about how others live across the seas. It’s the best book on ikigai out there!

Buy The Little Book of Ikigai
Amazon | Book Depository

Have you heard of Ikigai before? What’s your reason for getting out of bed in the morning? Let me know in the comments below!

Many thanks to Quercus for providing me with a copy for review! All opinions are my own. 

If you like the sound of this book, you’ll also like:
The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k
The Girlboss Workbook by Sophia Amoruso
My Morning Routine by Benjamin Spall
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Laura is a culture and travel blogger based in London. She studied French at Oxford University and now studies Law in London. She’s an avid reader and traveller and loves to combine the two with literary travel. Find her tips and reviews on the best reads, eats and destinations on whatshotblog.com.

Find me on: Web | Twitter



  1. 19th September 2017 / 1:00 PM

    This sounds like a really interesting book, I always think the Japanese have an interesting outlook on life so it would be interesting to read this.

  2. 19th September 2017 / 2:47 PM

    Love the sound of this little book. Having visited Japan, they really are some of the calmest most serene people, even in very hectic environments (the subway for example!).. This explains a lot! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. 19th September 2017 / 8:51 PM

    What an interesting book and I have heard of the concept of ikigai but did not know about the fundamental pillars as a whole.

  4. Super Busy Mum
    20th September 2017 / 9:38 AM

    What an interesting little book!I have never heard of Ikigai before but it sounds intriguing!

  5. Leah Shafik
    20th September 2017 / 11:47 AM

    I absolutely LOVE Hygge and that trend – I also think I would love Ikigai too! I will definitely check the book out. x

  6. KGR
    20th September 2017 / 12:44 PM

    I never tried the hygge trend but I do love the sound of the chapters. The idea of enjoying the little things in life really does need to be the main focus and I for one would benefit from it x

  7. 20th September 2017 / 3:39 PM

    As a big believer in mindfulness this was a super interesting read, I love how different cultures have different approaches to very similar ideals, really shows you what we value as a species ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. 20th September 2017 / 9:24 PM

    I’d never heard of Ikigai before, but I really love the sound of it! I’m fascinated by Japanese culture, and appreciating all the little things in life is so important! I’ll definitely be giving this a read! <3 xx

  9. Hungry_Healthy_Happy
    21st September 2017 / 9:14 AM

    I love that this book reminds you to enjoy the little things in life – that’s so important

  10. 21st September 2017 / 9:28 AM

    Oh I love the sound of this, I hadn’t heard of Ikigai before but it sounds right up my street, thank you for sharing!

  11. 21st September 2017 / 11:16 AM

    Ooo this definitely sounds like my cup of tea. I think it’s so important to study different outlooks.

  12. Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes
    21st September 2017 / 11:42 AM

    I haven’t heard of Ikigai but this book sounds like something I would really enjoy! Reading about Japanese history and culture would be fascinating ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. 21st September 2017 / 12:22 PM

    This sounds like a interesting read so may just have to go and have a look for it

  14. 21st September 2017 / 9:00 PM

    I have never heard of Ikigai but am now intrigued in learning more! I do try to practice a little mindfulness, so this could be a great book to try out, thank you! xx

  15. 21st September 2017 / 9:40 PM

    Sounds like i need to read Ikigai. I don’t know what my purpose with life is right now!

  16. Rebecca
    21st September 2017 / 10:51 PM

    This is going on my wishlist! I love reading about Japanese culture, and finding my purpose in life would be a bonus ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Candice Nikeia
    22nd September 2017 / 4:23 AM

    This is just the type of book I have been looking for! Sounds truly amazing!

  18. Sarah Ann
    22nd September 2017 / 1:42 PM

    This is definitely my kind of book. Going to order myself a copy!

  19. Kira L Curtis
    22nd September 2017 / 1:51 PM

    I never really got into the whole hygge thing but I like the sound of ikigai! Would love to read about japanese history!

  20. 22nd September 2017 / 11:17 PM

    This sounds like my kind of book! I love books like this, and it sounds like something I’d love to learn more about x

  21. 26th September 2017 / 6:55 AM

    I love this concept! This book would be perfect coffee table reading. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. 9th December 2017 / 11:05 AM

    Sound extremely interesting and what beautiful photography

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