12 Japanese Life-Changing Concepts to Live a Happy Life

We can certainly learn from different countries around the globe their respective different philosophies through one’s culture and historical past. Those philosophies can help us live more meaningful and fulfilling lives. For example in Japan, people are keenly aware about focusing on the moment at hand and striving to be mindful—this is a state of active and open attention to the present. In this article, we’ll share with you to 12 beautiful Japanese aesthetics that can inspire us to embrace happiness as well as enjoying a peaceful and healthy life.


Iitokodori is a Japanese process means discovering aspects of the influences around you and creating something unique of your very own from these influences. An example of this is the creation of curry udon which is one of Japan’s well-known comfort food and is considered iitokodori food. Curry udon consists of udon noodles mixed with Japanese curry sauce that was adopted from Indian curry elements and incorporating a Japanese noodle called udon, replacing the traditional rice accompaniment. It has evolved further in various different and delicious versions.


Ibasho is place where you feel a sense of belonging and purpose—it could be with family, friends, relatives, your community, or workplace. Many Japanese believe ibasho is what every person should strive for as they age. Ibasho protects one from various adverse risks and situations that people have to deal with in life.


Solo-katsu is concept of purposefully being alone and enjoying your Me Time. It involves a person reserving one’s own time alone, immersing yourself in something to your heart’s content, and discovering a newfound sense of abundance and values. Being alone is not the same as being lonely. Rather, it is an important and vital part of self-development.


Ikigai is discovering your reason or purpose in life. You can find your ikigai by taking a good, hard look at your inner self and seeking out specific elements of your life that you can immerse yourself in, which may be those things that you truly love. A example of this ikigai is the desire for some elderly individuals to spend quality time with their grandchildren. Others strive to be happy every day and to spread positivity is their reason for being.


This philosophy has its roots in Zen tea ceremonies. Wabi-sabi celebrates the passage of time and finding beauty in every aspect of supposed imperfection in nature. Linked to Buddhism, wabi-sabi has a way of making peace with the inevitable changes as nothing lasts forever. It is a practice acceptance of our imperfections and those things around us, whether it be physical or psychological.


This is the concept of not being wasteful, as every little thing has a soul and purpose. Mottainai is all about reusing, repurposing, and repairing. Many Japanese don’t just throw items out in the trash, but rather, we prefer bringing it be recycled or re-purposed, such as cutting up old T-shirts for cleaning cloths to replace sponges or paper towels.


The belief in decluttering is an important concept. In Japanese, the word Danshari断捨離,  the ideograms mean =refuse, =dispose, and =separate. When we Refuse, we need critical thinking rather than self-deprivation. It represents our refusal to carry things into our life such as impulsive purchases, or taking sad little giveaways or meaningless objects. Next is Dispose, look around your living spaces carefully, and if an item isn’t valued physically or sentimentally important, it’s time to let it go. Last is Separate which is most difficult part of all because all humans feel attached to their possessions.


This concept centers around changing for the betterment of the whole. Kaizen generally refers to business activities to continuously improve all operational functions. This involve all employees and also employers. The Japanese believe that performing kaizen everyday can have huge positive results. The production system for Toyota, a Japanese motor car company, is known for kaizen, where all assembly line workers are keenly aware of the moving production line. They are expected to halt the line in case of any unusual activity no matter how big or small the change may be.

Shikata ga nai

This is the concept of letting go and moving on. It centers around accepting what you cannot control and to eventually discard and replace those thoughts and/or items. Many find this concept to be controversial these days as shikata ga nai could also be interpreted as stoicism and being too passive in the face of adversity or injustice. Some Japanese see this passivism as unacceptable and would opt for choosing to protest, challenge and/or fight if treated unfairly.


The term is generally meant to personally endure the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity. This Japanese societal concept revolves around the good of the collective group to be greater than the one individual. Thus, individuals develop within themselves the gaman ability to persevere and tolerate internally for the good of the group. It also means to do one’s best in distressed times and to maintain self-control and discipline. Today, this concept is less popular as internalizing one’s feelings and thoughts for the greater collective group can be considered unhealthy.


This is the concept of being true to yourself because there is only one unique you. It is the Zen buddhist concept, where this word is derived from the kanji for the four different type of trees that all bloom in spring: cherry blossom, plum, peach, and apricot trees. Each of them has its very own personality and mission. Like trees, we grow and bloom in our own time and our ways. We should not compare ourselves to others who grow at different paces.


Shu-ha-ri is a Japanese martial art concept which describes the stages of learning to mastery. It is a way of thinking about how you learn and master a technique. In Japanese, the word SHU-HA-RI—守破離, the ideograms mean 守=Keep the tradition. Learning the basics, the rules, and the style by following the teaching of one master. 破=Transformation. This second phase is to integrate the learning into the practice and what is make improvements to suit your style. 離=Transcend. At the final level, the student developed physical skills and techniques but one is also spiritually developed. Now the student starts one’s practice and doesn’t learn from master anymore.

If you are interested in Japanese minimalism stories, click HERE. Also we introduced some Japanese classic minimalist books that makes us think about what we truly want to do with our lives and how to go about accomplishing this.

Recent Posts