Ikigai: The Japanese Secret To A Long And Happy Life by Héctor García & Francesc Miralles | Book Review

Ikigai Book Review

Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life, an amazing book by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles. Both the authors are well renowned and have many popular books to their credit. At Okinawa in Japan, where inhabitants live for longer than in any other place in the world, they had interviewed more than a hundred villagers about their philosophy for a long and happy life; and Ikigai came alive with the purpose of bringing the secrets of Japan’s centenarians to everyone and to provide with the tools to find one’s own Ikigai.

Inspiration / The Impulse

Since childhood I have known Japan as a country with the highest life expectancy; a country with the most disciplined people. This fact always intrigued me and when this book came, I couldn’t stop myself from buying it as it claims to reveal the secret behind the healthy and happy lifestyle of the Japanese people. Though many other books are also there in the market which introduce us to these Japanese secrets but Ikigai became an instant hit so I thought there must be something special in it which is making it so popular… and I went ahead to buy it and I can happily say that I made the correct decision.

The Hook

Life is not a problem to be solved. Just remember to have something that keeps you busy doing what you love while being surrounded by the people who love you.

Because those who discover their Ikigai have everything they need for a long and joyful journey through life.

Ikigai book summary

Ikigai is a Japanese concept, which can be translated roughly as the happiness of always being busy and this book is all about living a simple and peaceful life and finding one’s Ikigai. The word ‘Ikigai’ means- one’s reason for being. It is different for all of us as we all are different. Let’s understand it with the help of two examples. Say, there is a philanthropist, he wakes up every morning with a goal to do some more welfare work for the needy. This gives him immense happiness and on the other hand there is a housewife who is preparing meals for her family with all her love and care, she also is very happy after seeing her family member eating the meal happily. Both are happy doing their respective jobs, they have found their Ikigai as their jobs give them a sense of purpose.

This book talks about the different ways to be adapted in our lives to live a longer and happier life. It helps us in discovering the meaning of our life. The book draws a lot of references from an island in Japan called Okinawa, where the people with the highest longevity in the world live. This fact becomes more appreciable considering the fact that it was one of the worst affected provinces after World War II. The authors presented their research done on this island in detail so that we can also get inspired and pick up a healthy lifestyle and find our Ikigai.

They are always busy, but they occupy themselves with tasks that allow them to relax. We didn't see a single old grandpa sitting on the bench doing nothing.

Once we find our Ikigai or we discover the meaning of our life, we need to immerse ourselves in that ‘purpose’ without getting distracted by the surroundings… and then we attain the flow. Many interesting techniques are advocated in the book which will help us achieve this flow.

The happiest people are not the ones who achieve the most. They are the ones who spend more time than others in a state of flow.

Another important aspect of happy life, upon which the authors threw light is, eating healthy and eating ethically. On the whole, the book explains a number of life techniques and practices which will take us towards finding our IKIGAI to lead a healthy, long and joyful life.

Only staying active will make you want to live a hundred years.

This book starts with the above Japanese proverb which literally summarizes the content.


One should enjoy their life when it is good but at the same time do not get attached to or become habitual of those pleasures.

Love the present, live in the present and find happiness in the little things which life offers.

Don’t worry much about finding your Ikigai, just focus on the things that keep you busy and happy also at the same time.

Keep yourself surrounded by the people who love you.

The reason for being can keep on changing, depending upon the circumstances.

Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

What I liked

It is not that this book would tell you something which you already didn’t know but it definitely has compiled all the concepts and rules which are necessary to lead a happy and long life. We, probably, are aware of most of the techniques that this book advocates, in one or the other form, it is just that we don’t follow them. We all know that we should not use the mobile phones before our sleep time, but do we really follow it? To me, this book was like a reminder of all those practices and rules, which we already know but still consciously overlook. We just take things for granted and move on; the biggest irony here is that we are taking our lives for granted. 

It was a quick read and the pace was quite decent. There is nothing complex that would confuse us, rather we will get instantly connected with the suggestions because most of it is already known to us.

There are a lot of things that resonated with me. In my opinion we should consider IKIGAI as a manual for a happy and long life and keep referring to it time and again.

What I didn't like

At few places, the content was little repetitive and way too descriptive, which hampered the pace of reading.

One more thing that bothered me a little is that the title and the content of the book, at some places, seemed mismatched as more attention is given to the techniques and practices to age healthily but this doesn’t mean that this content is of any less importance.

Recommendation - Ikigai

This book will definitely be a big motivator for you as it provides various insights and inspiration to live a happier and healthier life. The time-tested concepts of ‘Ikigai’ backed with real life experiences, make it a wonderful read.

A perfect way to get some motivation in the unprecedented stressful times, like these, definitely a thumbs up!

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