10 Japanese words that can guide your life

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The Japanese language is unique and thanks to its ideograms it is able to express words with abundant meanings and with its own concept. In this article, we are going to share 7 Japanese words that can guide your life for the better.

The Japanese know the concept of their words, their origin, meaning and idea thanks to the ideograms that facilitate this process. Unfortunately in Brazilians, most of the time, we do not know the origin of the words in our language.

Everything in the Japanese language has an interesting meaning and origin that can be discussed. We will go through life without knowing the whole essence of words, but we can know the important words that can guide and change our life.

Ikigai - Purpose of Life

If we are talking about words that can guide our lives, then of course we must start with a purpose, objective or motivation to live. Ikigai literally means life purpose and is a very important word for the Japanese.

It is written with the characters of [生き] which means to live and [甲斐] which means value, effect, result or result. Ikigai is such a powerful word that it involves an entire art, philosophy, concept and secret behind the word.

There are people who dedicate their entire life to studying Ikigai and helping others discover the purpose of life.

Read also: Ikigai - Meaning, purpose and reason for living of the Japanese

7 Japanese words that can guide your life

Yoisho [よいしょ] - Shout used in Japan to give encouragement or to express effort. Effort

The word Yoisho is a little unknown, it is not usually taught in school, nor in Japanese courses. Despite all this, it is a word widely known and used among the Japanese. Yoisho is a cry of encouragement to yourself or others.

A word that is seldom written but often spoken during an action to express effort or relieve tension. For example, a group of people who are about to lift something heavy. Or it can be spoken alone when we are tense to give a certain strength.

7 Japanese words that can guide your life

The most amazing thing is how this word is spoken a lot, but not written about it, thus showing its omnipresence. This word accompanies the Japanese throughout their lives, in their daily struggles. It may not seem important, but it's a word that can move mountains.

The word yoisho is considered a kakegoe [掛け声], a term that means battle cry or encouragement used in events like taiko. good odori, kabuki, undokai and others. Yoishi goes far beyond that and is part of the daily life of the Japanese. 

It can't be helped. Accept the inevitable

The word Shouganai [仕様がない] means it can't be helped, it can't be done, it's inevitable, there is no solution or similar things. However, this word is not always discouraging or desperate. 

7 Japanese words that can guide your life

We live in a world where the things we want don't always work out. To say Shouganai is to accept that loud is out of your control. Many use this word to encourage people to realize that something was not their fault.

To accept that something did not work out is a solution to move forward without regrets. The shou [仕様] of shouganai means path, method, resource or something specific. Since our paths do not always go certo, "Shouganai" will help guide our lives.

We recommend reading: Shouganai and Shikatanai - The culture of acceptance of the Japanese

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Wabi Sabi - World View

The next Japanese word that will guide your life is quite comprehensive and involves a complete view of the world through aesthetics. This aesthetic sense of Japanese art is centered on acceptance, transition, and imperfection.

Despite being a word involving art, its meaning refers to the way of life that consists of accepting life's imperfections, the natural cycle of growth and decay. Through wabi-sabi, it is possible to empty the mind and bring tranquility.

7 Japanese words that can guide your life

The aesthetics of "wabi-sabi" involve asymmetry, roughness, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, and intimacy. It seems something difficult to explain, but "wabi-sabi" can affect the way we live our lives, decorate our homes, and appreciate nature. 

Read also: Wabi-sabi: Discover the Japanese concept of valuing beauty in imperfect things

5. Ganbatte [頑張って] - Good luck do your best

This is one of the most popular words in the Japanese language, its objective is to encourage people to strive for something. "Ganbatte" involves doing your best, moving forward, staying focused, enduring, fighting, not giving up, and working hard.

"Ganbatte" means to persevere, persist, insist, and remain. Some end up translating "ganbatte" to "good luck," as it is often said to people who are about to take a test or go through some difficulty.

We recommend reading: Ganbatte - Understand the True Meaning

7 Japanese words that can guide your life

I want to take this opportunity and mention another related word which is akiramenaide [諦めないで] which means don't give up, don't lose hope. Both words tell you to never give up on life and face hardships hard!

Kaizen - Improvement Improvement

Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy and practice that promises to continually improve your projects, business, and even your health. Despite being applied most of the time within companies, understanding this word can help guide your life in a productive and improved way.

The concept of kaizen can help you cut expenses, get organized and increase productivity and dedication to something. This word was one of the main factors responsible for the growth of Japan and the dedication of the Japanese to various aspects of life.

7 Japanese words that can guide your life

Kaizen involves being transparent, focusing on the future, changing at any time, not being negative, not looking for perfection, prioritizing quality and not putting things off. If you let kaizen guide your life, it's sure to be one of the best.

We recommend reading: Kaizen - Know the method and how to apply it

7. Omotenashi [Hospitality] - Japanese Hospitality

O omotenashi goes far beyond a simple hospitality or education, it involves a reception, treatment and service without superficiality. It involves striving for others even when not requested or necessary.

Omotenashi involves treating your guest, client, or close one in the best possible way. It's like the golden rule that says "Treat others as you would like to be treated." And all of this without being obligated, without expecting anything in return or having ulterior motives.

Some Egoists will find this totally unnecessary to guide our lives, but the way we treat others will affect our lives in the present or future. The lack of Omotenashi is one of the main reasons for a Catastrophic Brazil.

7 Japanese words that can guide your life

Omotenashi involves other words we know in English such as humility, honesty, friendship and love. These are words that we know very well and that can guide our lives in the best possible way.

8. Mottainai [もったいない] - Value and avoid waste

Mottainai expresses a feeling of regret for waste. It goes beyond the idea of reusing materials, encompassing respect for time, relationships, and opportunities. Mottainai invites us to appreciate the intrinsic value of everything, avoiding excessive consumption and unnecessary waste.

In Japanese culture, "mottainai" manifests itself in various practices, such as the custom of using a fabric until the end, transforming it into a new item, or the habit of consuming food completely, avoiding food waste. This word reminds us that everything has value and deserves to be appreciated, encouraging us to adopt a more conscious and sustainable lifestyle.

By incorporating "mottainai" into our lives, we learn to value what we have, to avoid waste, and to cultivate gratitude for the little things. This mindset helps us to live more fully and to build a more prosperous future for ourselves and for the next generations.

9. Yugen [幽玄] – The deep and mysterious beauty

Yugen refers to a deep and mysterious beauty that transcends intellectual understanding. It is the beauty that evokes intense emotions and connects us with something greater than ourselves. Yugen can be found in nature, art, music, and in fleeting moments of everyday life.

In Japanese aesthetics, yugen is often associated with the beauty of impermanence, like the cherry blossom that blooms for a brief period or the moon that changes shape every night. This word invites us to appreciate the ephemeral beauty of life and to find meaning in fleeting moments.

By cultivating sensitivity to yugen, we develop a deeper appreciation for the beauty of the world around us. We learn to find meaning in subtle details and to connect with the beauty that resides in every moment. Yugen inspires us to live more attentively and to find joy in the little things.

10. Ukiyo [浮世] - Live the present moment.

Ukiyo means "floating world" and refers to the transient nature of life. This word reminds us that everything is constantly changing and that we should enjoy the present moment. Ukiyo invites us to live intensely, to celebrate the beauty of life, and to accept impermanence.

In Japanese culture, ukiyo is associated with hedonism and the pursuit of pleasure. However, ukiyo can also be interpreted as a philosophy of life that teaches us to find joy in small things and to accept the impermanence of life.

By incorporating ukiyo into our lives, we learn to live in the present moment, to appreciate the beauty of life, and to accept impermanence. This mindset helps us find inner peace and live more fully and happily.


If we apply the philosophies and lifestyles taught by all these words mentioned in the article, we will have a great compass to face all of life's difficulties and have the best results.

I hope you enjoyed the article, if you liked it share and leave your comments. Of the thousands of Japanese words, what other word do you find interesting to guide our lives?

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