Find and be aware of your purpose in life

Today I am honored to share with you an interview with an author who is an expert in IKIGAI concept.

Héctor García is the co-author of the ¨Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life¨ book (Spanish version here) that has sold more than 2 million copies and translated into 60 languages (is the most translated book that was originally written in Spanish!).

Héctor is a citizen of Japan, where he has lived for over 17 years, and of Spain, where he was born, in sunny Valencia. He is a software engineer, the developer of the popular blog Kirai, the author of ¨A Geek in Japan¨ book (a #1 bestseller in Japan) and also a photographer.

I am fortunate to learn wisdom in this evolution of consciousness directly from the world leading teachers!

Photo credit: Héctor García

Héctor, first of all, thank you for writing ¨Ikigai¨, I loved it!

What inspired you to write this book? (¨Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life¨)

Through my learning of the Japanese language I’m always attracted to concepts and words that don’t have a direct translation. One of those words was IKIGAI, which means more or less “your purpose in life” or “a reason for being”. I like to explain IKIGAI as the reason you wake up in the morning looking forward to your day.

The IKIGAI word stayed in my heart for a long time and I started mixing it in my mind with western existentialist philosophy concepts. After many years thinking about it, one day in 2014, while taking a long walk in a Japanese garden in Tokyo with my friend Francesc I explained him about IKIGAI. Francesc listened in silence, and then, he broke the silence with one sentence that changed our destinies: We have to write a book about IKIGAI!

This is how the adventure that lasted many years started. Francesc and me went together to the village of the longest living people in the world, we lived with them and interviewed them for our book. One of the main chapters of ¨Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life¨ is based on our learnings from the elders.

The book was first published in Spain in 2016. In 2021 is published all over the world and has been translated to 60 languages.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your ¨Ikigai¨ book?

First it was the simplicity of the elders living in Okinawa. Their way of life next to the sea and surrounded by nature was very inspiring. Maybe happiness secret is just simple living?

One of my favorite chapters in the book is the last one entitled ¨Resiliencia y Wabi-sabi¨. Do you believe that the Wabi-sabi concept that talks about ¨ The beauty of the imperfection as an opportunity for growth ¨ could have the same power in the western world?

Wabi sabi is powerful for our lives in the western world because it seems we are all too attracted to perfection. Wabi sabi teaches us that being imperfect is the natural state of life, not only in art but also in our lives. I recently wrote the foreword of a beautiful introductory book of Wabi-Sabi for Nobuo Suzuki; it is also a concept that I love:

English version Wabi Sabi: The Wisdom in Imperfection

Spanish version Wabi Sabi para La Vida cotidiana

I enjoy your Instagram posts. Could you tell us what you love most about your life in Japan right now? And what is the essential element that the Japanese mentality and culture have given you?

Thank you 🙂 I’ve been more than 10 years posting pictures on my instagram. I try keeping the same spirit always: capture what I see while taking long walks around Japan.

Since covid started I don’t get out of Tokyo, therefore all my pictures are from neighbourhoods nearby my home here in Tokyo. One of the key cultural points I have learned from the Japanese was after the 2011 Fukushima natural disaster. I learned about their resilience and perseverance when facing bad fortune. With the hit of covid to the world I have seen Japan behaving in a similar way to when Fukushima earthquake happened. They all act together to help each other when things don’t go well. I go deeper into this mentality of collective effort and perseverance in my newest book:

Spanish version La Magia De Japón

English version The Magic of Japan: Secret Places and Life-Changing Experiences

Is writing your Ikigai? How would you define yourself in a sentence?

My IKIGAI is writing words the best I can so hopefully my readers will be inspired to learn more about different cultures lead better lives.

Héctor, I would like to express my gratitude for this interview opportunity and please share one last message for ¨The Urban Chapter¨community:

Thank you very much for having me! It is always an honor to be interviewed and I always love to be a witness in the beginning of new communities. Last message: If you don’t know what your purpose in life is, your IKIGAI should be to find your IKIGAI!

Thank you!

(Interview and picture published with Héctor García’s permission)

Bonus Track:

Official website: HÉCTOR GARCÍA

Instagram – Stunning pictures of Japan – Héctor García

Everything you want to know about Japanese culture here – Héctor García

Spanish version book Un geek en Japon (#1 bestseller in Japan)

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  1. Congratulations on the interview, Héctor García is the best reference there is to understand and apply the Japanese wisdom in our day-to-day. Thanks a lot Ami!!

  2. Un interviu inovator.
    Mi-a placut ceea ce am citit,ar trebui sa aplicam cat mai des metoda Ikigai in viata noastra.

  3. Very interesting interview. My son loves Japan and Japanese life style. Thank you for the idea, I have the present for his birthday.

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