President Lorene Oikawa’s Message – February 2018

2018 JCCA Keirokai

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. February is usually when people’s interest starts to wane and that impossible regime of a restrictive diet or drill sergeant workout cannot be maintained. Not to say that making better life choices isn’t a good thing, I just think the pressure of a New Year’s resolution is setting up a lot of people for failure. I am also interested in a more holistic approach to well-being.

Have you heard about ikigai? I first heard about it last year. There have been a number of articles and a book published last year. Some are calling it the Japanese secret to a long and happy life. This Japanese concept seems to be taking over in popularity from the Danish concept of hygge, a warm and cozy lifestyle.

From my quick reading of the articles, iki means life and gai means value or worth so ikigai is about your purpose in life. It’s also been described as the reason for getting up in the morning. I would be cautious about literal translations of non-English words into English. There is a tremendous culture and history behind words so there may be something lost in the translation.

Sometimes the articles have Venn diagrams explaining the concept:  Overlapping circles of “what you love” “what you are good at” “what the world needs” and “what you be paid for” with overlapping pairs of circles highlighting passion, mission, profession, and vocation, and your ikigai is at the centre of the overlapping circles.

Ikigai Venn Diagram

The Venn diagram is a simplification of the concept, and may miss the point about self-reflection and your mental outlook on your worth and not on your financial status. Another way of considering your ikigai is by stopping when you’re doing something and asking yourself why you are doing it. Perhaps it’s something you need to stop and say no, so you can spend time doing things that are more meaningful. This is different from a New Year’s resolution, because in the moment you are finding the things that are taking up your time or holding you back from accomplishing the things you dream about.

A lot has been shared about Okinawa with the “longest disability-free life expectancy in the world.” In a TED talk, Dan Buettner, a National Geographic writer and explorer, explores the ideas about living long and healthy, and while he talks about genetics, diet and social constructs, he also refers to ikigai.

Buettner studied different communities around the world and he discovered some common denominators for those who are living a long life. One is having a sense of purpose. Thinking back to a typical New Year’s resolution such as following an exercise program, it is interesting to note that another common denominator that Buettner found is that these elders don’t exercise, but they do have physically active lifestyles.

Although there seem to be a number of factors influencing our capacity for a long life, there is no quick fix for a happy, long life. Ikigai plays a big part of it and I can’t imagine a long life without purpose or a reason for getting out of bed in the morning.

If you have discovered your ikigai, send me a note gvjcca “at” or via Canada Post. I would be interested to learn more.


Join our 4th Annual GVJCCA Community Bowl-a-thon on Sunday, February 25. It will contribute toward your physical activity, your purpose, because the Bowl-a-thon is a fundraiser, and involve you in a social network. It’s an opportunity for members of the Japanese Canadian community and other communities and families and friends to come together and have some fun. Your support is appreciated. We are raising funds to keep producing the high quality, monthly Bulletin magazine for the community. You can also help by collecting pledges for the GVJCCA or one of the other Japanese Canadian community groups who are participating in this community bowl-a-thon. We will have lots of prizes including for the bowler who collects the top amount of $ pledges and also for the bowlers with the top scores. It’s fun for all ages.

See the advertisement for the Bowl-a-thon in The Bulletin and on our website at

Individual bowlers are welcome. We can assign you a team. You will have a choice of 5 pin or 10 pin bowling at our new venue, Lucky 9 Lanes, in Richmond with plenty of free parking. We hope to see you at the Bowl-a-thon.