Mint Images Japan Shoots 2018

What’s your Ikigai? The small and big things that give life purpose.

This summer, I returned to Japan planning to capture more aspects of modern life. A follow-up to the previous year’s Kodawari and Chi Jishin series, this year I wanted to explore the Japanese concept of Ikigai 生き甲斐, which directly translated is “iki” (to live) and “gai” (reason).

The project is a collaboration with Mint Images and every year we choose a theme which tie the shoots together. They are usually unique Japanese concepts that only exist in the Japanese language and help us dig a little deeper and go beyond the surface while planning and executing the shoots.Unlike other stock photography agencies, Mint Images content is authentic and real and have curated countless shoot projects which focus on the environment and issues of health and well-being.

I grew up in Japan and although consider Japan my home, I am still fascinated by certain s aspects of the Japanese culture. Photography helps me reconnect with the Japanese culture and hopefully share my experiences and observations with people around the world.

On my agenda were fashion entrepreneurs, family-run businesses, a factory, young families, and Tea Ceremony students as well as a preschool. With over 10 shoots booked in Kyushu, the aim was to capture a variety of emotions and trends representative of life in Japan today while focusing on the concept of Ikigai.

Recently there has been a lot of attention to cultural buzz words such as “hygge” or “ lagom” and it seems “ikigai” has become one of them. I didn’t know this until I started to write this but there many books about it with slightly varying interpretations.

Ikigai, contrary to some articles recently written on Ikigai do not have origins in Okinawa where people live longer probably due to warm weather and a more relaxed lifestyle rather than having a strong sense of Ikigai. It’s just a Japanese word which always existed as part of the language.

According to my Japanese mother, Ikigai is simply motivation and purpose. Her ikigai is her family and enjoyment of staying healthy and fit even in her 70’s. It’s what everyone has which makes their life worthwhile. It also can change throughout one’s lifetime. When you a student it can be getting good marks in school, in your 20’s it can be getting your dream job, in your 30’s your family and a hobby or doing good for the environment when you retire.


  • a motivation in life
  • a purpose in life
  • reason for living
  • something to live for

It applies to small everyday things as well as big life goals which give you reason and pleasure. No matter how big or small if you have Ikigai you are shiawase (content or happy). It’s not something you search for. It’s something that happens naturally and anyone who wants an Ikigai is sure to have one already.