Tips & Techniques

Is Ikigai the New Hygge?

September 25, 2017

First there was hygge then lagom, and now there’s ikigai. The anglophone appetite for new lifestyles and concepts seems to know no bounds as we adopt yet another culture's word, and its corresponding meaning, into our hungry, hungry lexicon. But what exactly is behind the newest word we've been hearing?

The newest word cum lifestyle practice comes to us from Japan, where practitioners of ikigai are said to lead longer, fuller, more genuine lives. In a new book, Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, authors Héctor Garcia and Francesc Miralles extol the benefits of the East Asian lifestyle philosophy that position meaning and purpose as paramount. Ikigai translates roughly to a reason for living. Those with a strong sense of ikigai feel satiated in busy-ness, eager to welcome the day and its often active offerings.

Ikigai and its benefits are grounded in community and the art of connection. Social relations, and the feelings of fullness and collaboration they offer, are an essential element in the harnessing of one’s ikigai and the subsequent betterment of one’s life. It's the dedication required by relationship building that weaves purpose into all aspects of daily life and brings the practice of ikigai from an internal practice to an external one.

There's evidence to support that ikigai is a healthy and holistic lifestyle. Okinawa, a Japanese island where residents practice ikigai, is considered one of the world's Blue Zones, places with the highest rates of life longevity. So whether ikigai is poised to dethrone hygge and seize our momentary cultural fascination remains to be seen. But until then, maybe we can all try to incorporate a little purpose into our daily thinking.

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Are you eager to join the ikigai obsessed? If you're interested, let u know in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Lydia Sultanik
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Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.


Lydia S. September 29, 2017
Sad statement that we constantly need to borrow lifestyles...rather than embrace another country's lifestyle, let's be original and devise our own...
Misi September 28, 2017
Perhaps we Westerners should develop our own lifestyle practice instead of being mildly obsessed with the newest fad before returning to the all-consuming lives we lead. These are little more than marketing tactics to sell something new. Enjoying good food and time with family and friends should be at the core of everyone's lives (in my humble opinion) and I don't need a buzzword to incorporate that in my home. Slow down and enjoy life. Work will always be there tomorrow.
MarieGlobetrotter September 28, 2017
I agree. Though I don't think it's necessarily a Westerners thing (and Hygge is Danish anyway). These disconnections and disruptions are taking place in Asia as well for example, especially in Japan where they are trying to turn to other means as well to try to deal with it
MarieGlobetrotter September 26, 2017
This constant striving for peace and quiet, genuine lifestyles and social relationships is obviously very telling of the fractured era we live in. The fact that we are constantly trying something new also shows that these are ideals that cannot be reached.