Monday, August 14, 2017

Writing the Little Book of IKIGAI.

The Little Book of IKIGAI, due to be published from Quercus on the 7th September 2017, is my first full English language book.

In the past, within the English language domain, I have written book chapters and edited a volume. However, this is the first time I have ever written a book in English from the beginning to the end. 

It is not that I am a stranger to the publishing world. I have published more than ~100 books in Japanese. 

However, the practical and imagined language barrier has been huge. For someone who was born and educated in Japan, writing a book in the English language de novo has been a dream that I thought would perhaps never become a reality.

Now that I have finished writing the book, with the final proof sent to the publisher, I can look forward to see that impossibility actually happen. 

Needless to say, I am extremely happy.

Writing a book in the English language has always been one of my personal ambitions. Like many other things in life, it got postponed for some reason or another, in a series of not-so-creative procrastinations.

The serendipity happened when my literary agent Mr. H made a trip to the London Book Fair. To be precise, Mr. H was not my literary agent at that time, since I did not have a single publication to my name in the English langauge. Mr. H was born in Australia and is now based in Tokyo. We have been discussing book projects over the years, but nothing had materialized, until last year.

During the London Book Fair, Mr. H met with an editor at Quercus, Katy. Katy apparently said she was looking for someone who would write a book on IKIGAI—the Japanese philosophy of life which contributes to good life and longevity. Mr. H immediately thought of me, and sent an e-mail.
To be honest, at that time, writing a book on IKIGAI was not on the top of my "to do list". 

Interestingly, there were several interesting coincidences. I already knew the Dan Buettner TED talk in which he mentioned IKIGAI as the secret of longevity in Okinawa, a lovely island in the south of Japan. Just before I got that e-mail from Mr. H, I was attending a TEDx conference in Tokyo, in which one of the audiences (who was apparently an American) mentioned in passing IKIGAI as one of the Japanese ideas that was catching the world's imagination.

So when I received that e-mail from Mr. H, although I had not thought of writing a book on IKIGAI before, I immediately thought it would be an interesting challenge to come up with something that would be not only helpful, but also provide some insights into the Japanese ways of life.

IKIGAI is something that many Japanese take for granted, like the air. In the process of writing the book, I needed to do some soul searching, reflecting on how this particular concept actually formed our daily lives. I also tried to present a concise explanation of science involved in the elucidation of the benefits of IKIGAI.

I did my best to make the book balanced on practical indications and in-depth explorations. I discussed the world of sumo, sushi, Shinto shrines, the usual suspects when discussing the unique values of the Japanese culture, as well as some themes probably new to many Western readers, such as radio calisthenics, comiket (comic market), and cosplay. 

I hope this book will be helpful for people who are interested in IKIGAI as a hint for a better life.


(ma)gog said...

Congratulations on publishing your first English written book!!!

I was lucky to have the opportunity to catch a glimpse into the actual "IKIGAI" last night, and was intrigued by the title "Being in the here and now" of the last chapter. I have been meditating in variety of ways for about twenty years or so, and have learned the concept of "mindfulness" through which we could fully appreciate our happiness. It is difficult for me however, to concentrate in "being in the here and now" although I "understand" which it means, because I tend to absorb in the happy memories in the past. Then I realized that the state "being in the happy memories" could mean that you are in the mindfulness state, as long as it is happening "now", although your friend Poyo-san said that was not the case. According to him, "The past is all but regrets(?!), and the future can be built only by constructing the meaningful 'present', so it is important and also rewarding to be fully absorbed in the present and to appreciate it. Hmm... I have to think about it carefully from the beginning!

Having read your account about the various coincidence which made your dream of publishing the first English book come true, I can only say that it was not a coincidence, as everything happens for a reason( which is the fact I've learned through my experience), it was the destiny for you to write the book in English. In another word, it was your mission to give your readers around the world the insight into true happiness, through learning IKIGAI in Japanese concept.

I can't wait for reading it myself!!

Sincerely yours,

Unknown said...

Mogi-san, congratulations on your book :) I've read several of your Japanese books (「脳は0.1秒で恋をする」がとくに印象的でした。)and I am excited to get my hands on the copy of this new piece. I've always admired your work on the TV series "Professional", which also airs in the US and enjoy the insightful questions and comments you bring to the table. Does the completion of the book mean you will start blogging more frequently again? :) Best of luck to your future endeavors.