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Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life (Review)

For over a decade, Ms. Dora has been sharing poetry, creative writing, positive quotes, and reflections online. Her aim is life enrichment.

By Nimbosa. Derived from works by Dennis Bodor and Emmy van Deurzen

By Nimbosa. Derived from works by Dennis Bodor and Emmy van Deurzen

The positive attitude and emotional awareness of the Japanese seem even more conducive to their health and longevity than their healthy diets, life outdoors and green tea. This is the consensus of Héctor García and Francesc Miralles, co-authors of Ikigai:The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life.

Ikigai is a Japanese word which translates as “the reason for being.” That reason produces satisfaction and happiness and adds purpose to their lives. It inspires a lifestyle that is active to the very end.

After one year of preliminary research, the authors visited Okinawa, more specifically the village of Ogimi, nicknamed the Village of Longevity where they interviewed the oldest residents. Their aim in presenting their findings is to share the Japanese concept of ikigai with the hope that readers will be motivated to find their own.

The Book and the Authors

Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books (August 29, 2017)
Language: English
Genre: Health, Fitness & Dieting > Aging ISBN-10: 0143130722
ISBN-13: 978-0143130727
Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7 inches
Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces

Héctor García is a citizen of Spain, where he was born and of Japan where he has lived for over a decade and has authored a bestseller, A Geek in Japan. Before moving to Japan, he worked at CERN in Switzerland where he developed voice recognition software and technology needed for Silicon Valley startups to enter the Japanese market.

Francesc Miralles is an award-winning author who has written a number of bestselling self-help and inspirational books. Born in Barcelona, he studied journalism, English literature, and German, and has worked as an editor, a translator, a ghost-writer, and a musician. His novel Love in Lowercase has been translated into twenty languages.

Main Messages in the Book

The authors list Okinawa at the top of the five Blue Zone areas (geographic regions where people live the longest). The following lifestyle facts are true in all regions.


Two hundred thousand lives in Okinawa were lost at the end of World War II. What are the chances that this community would be resilient enough to bounce back into one of the friendliest communities on earth and experience such enjoyable long lives? They average 24.55 centenarians in every 100,000. Readers would be amazed at the power-packed inspirational quotes from these people who seem to remain youthful even while they age. One of their secrets is their team spirit, the joy they experience in helping each other.


Judging from the physical habits of the Japanese, it is not the hectic hours in the gymnasium as much as the continual movements of everyday living which keep them strong and agile. For example, they walk or cycle instead of riding trains. Readers will find some productive activities to imitate. Some “are so simple, they’re almost stupid,” according to Gavin Bradley in a 2015 interview for the Washington Post. The authors also include principles, benefits, and illustrations of body-mind-soul exercises like tai chi, yoga, shiatsu, and similar activities.

Good Habits

Here are two of several:

They pay attention not only to what they eat, but also to portion size and the inclusion of foods featuring the colors of the rainbow.

They create flow in everything they do. That is, they immerse themselves totally and find pleasure in the activity. Chapter 4 teaches the details.


Visiting friends, celebrating birthdays, and sharing garden produce are some of the interpersonal activities mentioned in the interviews. They form associations that feed the member’s sense of worth and belonging. Community help is voluntary and participants act more like family than just friends—all this inspired by their ikigai.


The authors compare the stress of cave dwellers who were relaxed most of the time and felt stress only in specific situations with the constant stress of modern people, whose adrenalin initiates a rush at every ping of the cell phone. Balancing stress is an art to be learned. Taking life slow, releasing the worry, focusing on what is important rather than what is urgent, and practicing mindfulness can all be learned from studying the longevity of the Japanese. They do not believe that multi-tasking is a good idea for them or for anyone else.

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The book is a commendable reference guide for readers interested in total health and longevity. Some of the simple practices can be adopted at the first read. Those who want to understand and practice the Japanese body-mind-soul harmony techniques will also find helpful details and instructions.

I received this book free from the publisher through NetGalley ( The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Other Book Reviews

© 2017 Dora Weithers


Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 17, 2018:

Cleo, you made a wise decision. Enjoy it!

Cleo Addams from USA on January 17, 2018:

Thanks for this review. I'll be sure to give it a read. :)

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 09, 2017:

Yes, DDE. This book will be right up your street. It makes so much sense.

DDE on September 09, 2017:

Ikigai sounds great. The lifestyle is amazing and so simple.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 23, 2017:

The term "ikigai" has been around recently, but the book is new. Glad you're interested. You will really like it.

toknowinfo on August 22, 2017:

I had never hear of ikigai and I am so fascinated. Thank you so much for getting me interested to learn even more.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 09, 2017:

Natalie, thanks for your feedback on the review. It's a very interesting book. You'll like it.

Natalie Frank on August 09, 2017:

What a fascinating article! Thanks for writing get it.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 06, 2017:

Glenis, I recommend the book. There are some simple habits, easy to adopt, which makes lots of sense. Thanks for your input.

Glen Rix from UK on August 06, 2017:

Thanks for this, Dora. I recall a tv documentary about the longevity of people in parts of Japan. If memory serves me correctly, one of the aspects of diet that contributes to their good health is fermented foods. I think we in the West could benefit a lot if we absorbed some of the tenets and habits of Eastern culture. I ought to buy the book - 70 this year and hoping to be around and in good health for a lot more years!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 03, 2017:

Catherine, thanks for the affirmation on these messages from the Japanese people. They deserve a good look.

Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on August 03, 2017:

Thanks for this article. The Japanese have a wonderful culture. Thee is some really good advice here and suggestions for a productive approach to life.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 01, 2017:

Mary, thanks for your input. Given your observations, you would like the book. It promotes an all-round healthy lifestyle.

Mary Wickison from USA on August 01, 2017:

It sounds like a wonderful and helpful book to have and to give as a gift.

I never felt that 'going to the gym' was the way to health. I think it has to be an ongoing and incorporated way of life.

When I see the way some people mistreat their bodies, I think, 'that body needs to last you for the next 60-70 years'.

Sometimes we westerners make things overly complicated when they needn't be.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 31, 2017:

Bill, glad you find it interesting. Reading the bokk might help you make up you mind. Thanks for your input.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on July 31, 2017:

Interesting stuff, Dora. I must admit, I never heard of it before, Thanks for making me aware of it. Not sure I want to practice it , but it is interesting.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 31, 2017:

Jackie, I recommend reading the book. As I mentioned, some of these principles are easy to apply even on the first read. Thanks for your input.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on July 30, 2017:

Too bad we are not all brought up with these good principles. I think I would be very interested to read this book, too. Never too old to make some good habits.

Thank you for this very interesting review.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 30, 2017:

Dolores, you were blessed with a wise mother. Those of us who pay attention are discovering that she was right. Thanks for sharing.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on July 30, 2017:

Hi Dora - this all sounds like good commons sense. I feel like we live in a time of extremes. My mother always said to live a life of moderation in order to be happy and healthy.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 30, 2017:

Alicia, I'm happy that you found the review interesting. You'd like the book. Thanks for your comment.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 30, 2017:

Hi Marie. The dictionary suggest ee-key-guy. In addition, most pronunciations can be heard on YouTube, this one at

Thanks for your very valuable input, affirming the necessity of good attitudes to keep us healthy and happy.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 29, 2017:

You've written about a lifestyle that interests me very much. Thank you for the book review, Dora.

Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on July 29, 2017:

After reading this article, I'm still not sure how to pronounce "Ikigai." (Maybe the reference dictionary can help.)

Yes, all the things mentioned support longevity. Spiritual channelings say that the biblical life expectancies of 800 or more years were not metaphorical, but actual lifespans.

There are places in the U.S. that have good heart health. A city called Rosetta (not sure which state) is one of them. Primary is a spirit of unconditional love. Modern civilization, especially in the U.S., needs to de-program itself from judgmental thinking and criticism. Dramatic outbursts are out. Kindness, generosity and compassion are "in."


Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 29, 2017:

Hi, Word. The book will even be more helpful. I absolutely recommend it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 29, 2017:

Eric, I'm glad that you found it interesting. Thanks for sharing your insightful lifestyle view.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 29, 2017:

Bill, thanks for your support. So glad when my readers learn something; and this is only the review. The book has great information.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 29, 2017:

Flourish, this doctor undoubtedly has a healthy knowledge of Ikigai. Thanks for sharing.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 29, 2017:

Louise, this books comes out in thirty days. Grab it for a good read and lots of helpful health information. Thanks for reading.

Al Wordlaw from Chicago on July 29, 2017:

Hi Dora, that was a great explanation of a review. It made me want to be more positive than I have been, more physical, active and joyful as well. Thanks for being on top of things.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 29, 2017:

Wonderful to incorporate Shinto and Kami, Buddhist, and ancestor "worship" notions into a lifestyle. We must learn from all God's creations.

We do have a pleasant happy choice in how we live our lives. We should look for solutions to our personal barriers blocking us from our connection to God.

This was very interesting, thank you. Being a devout Christian I look at this review as a learning point not a faith point.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 29, 2017:

Fascinating, Dora! I learned something in this article, and I thank you for it.

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 29, 2017:

An interesting concept and although I've never heard the term there is research to support positive psychology. Thank you for the review. My family has a Japanese heart doctor who must practice this. He's the most positive person I've ever met and always tells you how inspirational and terrific you are and what a joy it is to be alive.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on July 29, 2017:

I've never heard of Ikigai before, but this sounds an interesting book to read. One for my reading list I think!

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