The Art of Resilience: The Japanese Ikigai in Sports

Our Heritage, Volume -68, Issue -1

12 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2021

Date Written: January 4, 2020


Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl developed the concept of logotherapy based on the premise that the primary motivational force of an individual is to find a meaning in life. Viktor outlines how his theories helped him to survive his Holocaust experience and how that experience further developed and reinforced his theories. Japan is the nation that suffered the most in the World War II. Japan’s cities were destroyed, its stockpiles exhausted, and its industrial capacity gutted. But like a phoenix, it has risen to one of the most valued industrial power. The nation possesses a philosophy called Ikigai that aims at a happy and long life.
In islands like Okinawa, with a remarkably high number of centenarians, they follow a unique diet and Ikigai to live long. The National Geographic Explorer Dan Buettner has recorded Okinawa as a blue zone in his book The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest. Ikigai is what allows a person to look forward to the future even if he/she is miserable right now. Japanese people perceive that the sum of small joys in everyday life results in more fulfilling life as a whole.
Ikigai can be a sports philosophy and applied to the life of ordinary persons and sportspersons. Japanese sportsperson Dai Tamesue is one who continues his mission in life as a coach and developed programmes life TRAC “Relay and Teamwork” to create love towards physical training at an early age. To maintain a healthy body and mind, one needs to have a disciplined life; physical training is essential for the maintenance of health. From the early age, the education system and society should be able to invoke interest towards sports among the children. The centenarians in Okinawa is a model to the world, on how to attain happiness and lead a contained life. Ikigai can ensure a life without lifestyle diseases; a life close to nature, close to one’s self.

Keywords: Logotherapy, Ikigai, sports, fitness, health, lifestyle diseases

Suggested Citation

Thomas, Biju, The Art of Resilience: The Japanese Ikigai in Sports (January 4, 2020). Our Heritage, Volume -68, Issue -1 , Available at SSRN: or

Biju Thomas (Contact Author)

Baselius College ( email )


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