Layout Image

Three words. Three colours. 

I came across an internet article today entitled "Three Japanese words that lead to a Happier Life" After reading it a nice colour connection came to my mind. Although the idea came only once i had read the complete article, perhaps you would like to guess a colour for each word as you go along. I will share my thinking at the end of the article.


The first word. Ikigai seems to mean purpose in life. It may be a thing, such as a vocation, it might be a value to live up to, it might be a combination of meaningful activities. In Japanese, "ikigai" is written as 生き甲斐, combining 生き, which means "life," with 甲斐, which means "to be worthwhile.” 

The author connects ikigai with the fact that the Japanese do not really have the concept of  “to retire”  … hard to believe, but “according to Dan Buettner, a National Geographic reporter who knows the country well, having a purpose in life is so important in Japanese culture that our idea of retirement simply doesn't exist there” 

What colour do you think for Ikigai?

Hara Hachi Bu

This is second word. Hara Hachi Bu means “Tummy 80% full”. The meaning is to stop eating before you are full. Good advice if you can do it since excessive calorie intakes ages us prematurely.

"Okinawans consume a daily average of 1,800 to 1,900 calories, compared to 2,200 to 3,300 in the United States, and have a body mass index between 18 and 22, compared to 26 or 27 in the United States." Okinawa is famous for having a higher percentage of 100 year olds than anywhere else on planet.

What colour for Hara hachi bu?


The third word is Moai. An informal group of people with common interests who look out for one another. The moai has its origins in hard times, when farmers would get together to support each other. It seems these days it can be a more general kind of association, but does involve people paying a fee each month, doing activities together, and receiving help from the communal money when needed. The author concludes  “the feeling of belonging and support gives the individual a sense of security and helps increase life expectancy.”

What colour do you think for Moai?

A colour analysis

Ikigai was the easiest for me. It resembles the idea of a soul purpose. Purpose is always blue.  It is something to fulfil. Something that inspires. Something that makes life meaningful.

Next easiest was Moai. Something communal is usually orange. However in this case, as i went on to think about Hara Hachi Bu, a neat way to associate all three ideas as colours came to mind. This neat way is to divide them up between the three primary colours.

Ikigai can remain blue. Hara Hachi Bu can become yellow. Why so? The answer is almost a reverse association. To not eat as much as you want, but to stop when you are not yet full, that is a discipline that erodes the selfishness of the ego. The ego, or self, is a yellow thing, and therefore Hara Hachi Bu goes with yellow. With blue and yellow now taken I can think of Moai as Red. Moai is something grounding. A circle of people. The community in which i find myself. The human circle in which i am grounded while i live upon the earth. Red.

Three words, three practices, three colours.

Quotes are taken from “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles. Read the full article HERE