How did you feel when you woke up this morning? If you are a member of the “I hate mornings” club, maybe you aren’t in touch with your “ikigai.” This word is common in Japanese conversation. And the concept has migrated to America, but is often misinterpreted here. When you truly understand ikigai, you’ll experience your mornings—even those dreaded Monday mornings—with a fresh attitude.
Lost in translation
Like many Japanese words, ikigai is hard for Westerners to define. Pop psychology books written in English define the word as “reason for being.” These books often contain a Venn diagram, showing where your passions, skills and sense of purpose intersect. In the West, the diagram and accompanying discussion usually focus on achieving success at your dream job and making lots of money. This is not how ikigai is experienced in traditional Japanese culture, although meaningful work and providing for your family may be sources of ikigai.
The joy of ordinary moments
In Japanese culture, ikigai is a spectrum of little steps that open up our lives to spontaneous moments of happiness. It’s a treasure-map to help you find wonderful things about yourself and your life. This discovery is at the heart of our creative process, starting with our unique signature scent, Morning Zen.
You can create an ikigai morning experience for yourself with our Clean Cleansing, a milky cleanser scented with tangerine, camphor, rose geranium and frankincense. The blend of soothing and stimulating elements is a balancing tonic for your complexion. It’s also a gentle but thorough makeup remover, lifting away impurities so that skin can rest and restore itself while you sleep.
If you prefer bubbles, cleanse with Moisturizing Clean Foam in our Morning Zen scent, gentle enough for all skin types. We also hand-craft Face Soaps for the specific needs of your dry or oily skin. For dry skin, we’ve created a lemon and tangerine bar with our scent called Subtle Sweetness. Oily skin stays clear and bright with our Hinoki Forever scent, with refreshing Cypress. Use warm, never hot, water, and blot your face with a clean towel, don’t rub. The botanical aromas and luxurious feel of the formulas elevates skin care from being a task or chore into “ikigai space.”
Ikigai in the true Japanese sense is about experiencing joy in the everyday.
This could not be more different from the all-or-nothing, “Go big or go home!” mentality that prevails in America. By contrast, Japanese culture has always placed value on the small, the modest, the imperfect. Haiku master Kobayashi Issa wrote about the beauty of seeing the moon through his broken window in what are called “one-breath poems” in Japanese.
The Here and Now
Issa also wrote:
Climb Mount Fuji,
But slowly, slowly.”
American culture pushes us to tirelessly compete, to improve, and to dream big.
It’s worth noting that Japanese culture also values high achievement and accomplishment. Students are expected to ace their tests and bring home straight A’s, and Japanese office-workers are famous for putting in long hours, year after year. And in Japan, a sense of ikigai balances a life defined by discipline, sacrifice and duty.
Where will you find your ikigai? Braiding your child’s hair in the morning. Stepping outside to feel the rain. Enjoying a favorite soft sweater, even though it has a moth-hole. Noticing a new leaf budding on your office plant. Washing your face.