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It’s time to unbecome...

Ikigai is a concept that is very much integral to Japanese culture and roughly translates to your 'reason for being' or 'purpose' but is not the 'Venn Diagram'. More on Ikigai's authentic definition can be explored here.

While Ikigai is essential to one's well-being, the true beauty is that it does not have a fixed equation and can change over time.

At Mogami, we have been exploring this nuance with our 'Ikigai Spotlight Series' to our newsletter subscribers; however, Akiko-san's story is so powerful that we decided to share it here on Mogami's blog.

This month's featured guest is Kelly Morita (32), Lifestyle Content Creator & Coach currently based in Tokyo, Japan.



Tell us your story.


I was born in America and grew up in a small town in Michigan. I fell in love with language learning and different cultures in middle school, decided to teach ESL in the states for a short period of time, and then moved to Japan to experience another culture and teach English there. I lived in Japan for 10 years and later became a mentor for those who wanted to learn how to live a lifestyle based on Japanese philosophy and also started a YouTube channel documenting my life living abroad which amassed over 180,000 followers across all social platforms. I’m a soon to be mother and passionate about empowering others to live fearlessly, activating their soul purpose on a deeper level.


When was the first time you remember coming across the concept of Ikigai?


I came across the concept of Ikigai when a video on YouTube suggested to me appeared. It was during the lowest points of my life and since then, I started implementing not only Ikigai but other Japanese concepts into my daily life


Western culture often sees Ikigai as something to "find" or "seek" using the Ikigai Venn Diagram. Do you think this is the right approach?

I believe this approach has helped a lot of people discover their passions but it is NOT Ikigai which is a shame that this is being shown and taught as Ikigai. Through talking with locals here in Japan and friends who are Japanese, I’ve learned so much more about this concept that I wish more people would understand. Ikigai is not what you do, it’s who you are. It’s not a diagram, a science, or even something you can be certified in. It’s simply to be. It’s your energy. Too many people attach what they do to who they are which is a very unfulfilling approach to living an authentic and happy life.


How does your life today reflect your authentic self and life priorities?


I feel like self leadership is a reflection of living an Ikigai lifestyle. Moving to Japan, I learned how to really come into myself, understand my needs, and cultivate a stronger sense of awareness. I no longer need validation from others to feel fulfilled, happy, and successful. I give myself permission to change my mind when I feel something doesn’t align with me anymore, and live life fluidly! It’s all a part of freeing your mind, heart, and soul to reach true fulfillment.


Can you walk us through a time in your life when you felt lost? What ideas or tools helped you overcome this period?


There was a time in my life where I felt unworthy, unseen, and constantly chasing things that didn’t serve me. It led to chronic illness, depression, and a lot of anxiety. One day I said, enough is enough. I was the only one who could take responsibility and change my life. I’ve done it before, I can do it again. I started doing a lot of soul searching. I learned how to meditate, took part in energy healing sessions, and started to have more conversations with myself about why I had specific beliefs. Although therapy is a wonderful tool, we hold all the answers to our fears and traumas more than others do so facing these realities, although difficult, I was able to rewire my mind and create a new story. Japan and its spiritual practices definition played a big role in this.


What would be your advice to anyone struggling to live a life of Ikigai?


To detach from all outcomes and start embracing the current moment. What are you feeling in this moment? What is your heart telling you? Start listening to your emotions and that voice that’s been suppressed for so long. We’re so conditioned growing up. It’s time to unbecome so we can learn to be who we truly are at soul level.



Saori's reflection


I've had the opportunity to have many soulful conversations with Kelly, and this interview was just as powerful. I've always thought the world as a creator to be challenging, and I enjoyed hearing Kelly's perspective as a successful content creator & coach on her view on Ikigai. Her reflections on how Ikigai is "not a diagram, a science, or even something you can be certified in and "simply to be" as such a key lesson. I will reflect on this interview by answering the question "what do I need to unbecome" ? Let me know what comes up for you.

Do you want to learn more?

For more of Kelly, you can find & support her work on her YouTube channel, Instagram @kellymorita.lifestyle, or on her website.

The reflection and journey of the other pieces guide us to a life of ikigai. Ikigai is a journey, not a destination. It is the outcome of being able to live as your authentic self in your everyday life.


What did this story bring up for you? Comment below.

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Updated: Oct 25

I never thought that Shodo would be my Ikigai...

Ikigai is a concept that is very much integral to Japanese culture and roughly translates to your 'reason for being' or 'purpose' but is not the 'Venn Diagram'. More on Ikigai's authentic definition can be explored here.

While Ikigai is essential to one's well-being, the true beauty is that it does not have a fixed equation and can change over time.

At Mogami, we have been exploring this nuance with our 'Ikigai Spotlight Series' to our newsletter subscribers; however, Akiko-san's story is so powerful that we decided to share it here on Mogami's blog.




This month's featured guest is Akiko Crowther (71), a Japanese native and Grand Master Shodō Calligrapher (Shodō artistic name: Shoyu, 雅号: 章悠), Founder of Yu Yu 悠悠書道教室, New Zealand's first Japanese calligraphy gallery & school.

*Shodō (書道) is the Japanese word for Japanese calligraphy. Shodō is a 2,000-year-old practice and one of the three traditional Japanese arts.


Tell us your story.


I was born in Tottori City, Japan, in 1951. I went to school in Tottori and graduated from Shimane University in Shimane Prefecture. I then worked as a teacher in Tottori for a year and married a Japanese man. We were blessed with two children but divorced after being married for 22 years. While visiting Hong Kong for business, I met Tim Crowther, who is British, and we remarried in 1998. We lived in Eastern Europe for 7 years for Tim's job (Creative Director of an advertising company) and moved to New Zealand in 2005 upon my husband's hope.


While I started Shodo when I was 5 years old, I began teaching it after 24 years of absence in Prague. In Prague, we ran Yu-Yu, a Japanese calligraphy school and gallery. We continued running a gallery and teaching Shodo in New Zealand until 2010. After my husband had a massive stroke in 2010, we closed the gallery. But, I started a home calligraphy class in the middle of this year, and I teach calligraphy in Nelson and Wellington.


I'm proud to say that some of my students have been awarded the Shihan (Master Calligrapher) and Jyun-Shihan (Pre-Master Calligrapher) certifications by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.


We have held many exhibitions in Prague and New Zealand to introduce "Sho" (書), one of the traditional Japanese arts. In 2019, we held the "Aoime no Shodoka tachi ten" (Blue-Eyes Calligrapher Exhibition) at the Nitten Shin Kaikan in Ueno, Tokyo, where a celebrated Shodo teacher in the Shodo world was overjoyed with excitement, saying: "I've never heard of an exclusive Shodo exhibition by Westerners! How wonderful!" The students that participated in the exhibition and I were thrilled by his words.

These cultural exchange efforts expressed through Shodo have led to receiving the Ambassador's Award from the Embassy of Japan in New Zealand in 2020 and the Tottori City Special Cultural Achievement Award in 2021. I hope to live up to these awards and continue introducing Shodo to people worldwide for their pleasure and enjoyment.


When was the first time you remember coming across the concept of Ikigai?


I thought a lot about "Ikigai" in high school when pondering my career path. I wondered what I wanted to do and what kind of life I wanted to lead. I remember thinking I would like to become a teacher after reflecting on the teachers I had encountered in my life who had helped and guided me up to that point.


Western culture often sees Ikigai as something to "find" or "seek" using the Ikigai Venn Diagram. Do you think this is the right approach?


The diagram is too generic and seems to be wrong.

If you only seek what is deemed "the norm" in society and the path taken, wouldn't it be easy to give up and say that you are incapable of doing it?

I think it is important to confront and speak with your heart and try to do what you like and want to do without being bound by what is considered "the norm" in the modern day.

By doing what you love and what you want to do to the best of your ability, you will already be doing more than anyone else, and this will eventually make your life worth living, and there will surely be people who will follow and agree with you.

What your inner heart desires is always something that is inevitable and necessary.


However, if you want to do something, you have to do it with all your heart, with all your strength, and perhaps even to the extent that you think you cannot do it anymore. You really have to go all the way.

Then, you will see various aspects of yourself. From there, one by one, you may come across people who understand and support you. Little by little, your confidence will grow as you see the results of your efforts. Then, as you feel success, it can evolve to become your Ikigai.

There are only a few that know what their Ikigai is from the very beginning.


And at first, everyone tends to think: "Ikigai is not something that is in me."

However, if you have something you love to do, if you want to try it, or if you wonder how you can do it, then you have to keep on doing it through trial and error. I think you have to believe in yourself and keep on going. That is what develops into Ikigai, isn't it?


How does your life today reflect your authentic self and life priorities?


I think I am at my best and the most authentic when writing and creating Shodo, which I love so much. Although there are times when I feel so frustrated that I want to throw my brush out the window, my happiest moments are when I am immersed in the scent of "Sumi" ink and "Washi" Japanese paper.


My happiest moments are when I am immersed in the scent of “Sumi” ink and “Washi” Japanese paper.
Calligraphy piece: “Laugh, Love, Don’t give up. (笑って Waratte, 愛して Aishite, 諦めるなAkirameruna)” - by Akiko (章悠, Shoyu) in collaboration with Tim Crowther

*Shodo is read from right to left.


Can you walk us through a time in your life when you felt lost? What ideas or tools helped you overcome this period?


Whenever I feel down, I first go outside for a walk, look at the New Zealand ocean, and breathe in the great outdoors to clear my mind.

I also keep a file of phrases and sentences from books I have read that have moved me. Whenever I feel down or discouraged, I read this "cheer-me-up file" I made for myself. Opening this file and rereading this collection of words and phrases gives me the feeling, "Okay! It's going to be okay. Everything will work itself out."


What would be your advice to anyone struggling to live a life of Ikigai?


It doesn't matter what it is. The important thing is to pour your heart into something that 'you' enjoy doing.

Many successful people are often the ones who, at first, were doubted by those around them. Perhaps they were surrounded by naysayers and were told, "There is no way you can be successful doing that. What's the point?" They may also have received cold stares or discouragement from those around them. Yet, these people loved what they were doing and wanted to keep continuing, and that exact passion is what led them to success.

My life is exactly like that. My life changed 180 degrees when my now husband asked me to come and live in Eastern Europe with him. At that time, none of my family or friends could have imagined where I would be today.

While I don't think of myself as a successful person, I still managed to receive several meaningful recognitions from both Japan and New Zealand.

In the beginning, I never thought that Shodo would be my Ikigai.


I just happened to start Shodo again and continued to do it to the best of my ability. I almost gave up on Shodo many times. But through the support of many of my students, community, and of course, my husband, I was able to continue practising what I love. In the end, it became my Ikigai.

It doesn't matter what it is. The important thing is to pour your heart into something that 'you' enjoy doing. Keep doing it to the best of your ability, to the point that you feel you are putting in the most effort than anyone else in the world.

I believe that will lead you to your Ikigai.


Saori's reflection


Being curious about a Zoom background has paid off exponentially. A few weeks ago, I was on a call when I came across a piece created by Akiko & Tim. The journey continued by taking the art piece from the wall to look at the back of the art piece, finding the artist's name, and a couple of internet searches to reach Yu-Yu's homepage.

When I saw Akiko's artwork, my heart felt warm, and my body felt at peace. I had the chance to hop on a virtual video call with her, and she is just as lovely, if not more 'in-person'. Akiko-san's story is truly inspiring - her humility, passion, and love for her work and community gave me such a drive to want to continue sharing stories such as hers that reflect the true definition of Ikigai. I will 100% be making myself a "cheer-me-up" file, as I hope you all will!

Do you want to learn more?


  • Learn more about Akiko’s Shodo school based in Nelson, New Zealand, 悠悠書道教室, Yu-Yu, Japanese Calligraphy School

  • Subscribe to Mogami's Newsletter to get early access to our monthly "Ikigai Spotlight Series", where we share real-life stories of those connected with their authentic selves. You will also receive a complimentary Ikigai guide when signing up to be part of our community.

  • Mogami's Ikigai deep-dive Skillshare Course (one-month FREE access with link)

  • Learn more about Mogami's wellness framework that provides the mindset, tools, and experience to empower you with a holistic approach to one's long-term well-being here.

The reflection and journey of the other pieces guide us to a life of ikigai. Ikigai is a journey, not a destination. It is the outcome of being able to live as your authentic self in your everyday life.


What did this story bring up for you? Comment below.

19 views0 comments

Updated: Sep 3

Our mission is to empower individuals to achieve sustainable personal wellness lives centred around longveity.Mogami 最上 translates to "highest level".

Our mission was one of the first things that came to life at Mogami.


There were 3 main themes within our mission.


1. Empowerment

It was clear that empowerment was a keyword - not inspire but empower. This was a significant difference to me as "empowerment" means you are helping individuals "reclaim their own power".


At Mogami, we respect every individual by remembering they have it within themselves, and it is not our role to tell people what to do. Instead, our part is to provide the education and space that allows each individual to reclaim their well-being.


2. Sustainable personal wellness

"Sustainable personal wellness" was the second key term - we are all different, meaning what works best for you may not work for me. At Mogami, we do not believe in "short-term fixes", "crash diets", or the idea that "faster is always better". Our wellness approach focuses on four main concepts that use the individual as the starting point to create a personal well-being lifestyle that will work in the long-term and be sustainable.


3. Longevity

"Longevity" was the last piece of our mission. Mogami leans on our Japanese cultural roots - as a country with one of the world's highest longevity and healthy life expectancies, we believe that these wellness practices can benefit individuals from all over the world.


Does this align with you? Come join our growing Mogami community by subscribing to our newsletter and following our socials (@mogami_wellness) - ignite your well-being journey today.


Mogami's approach uses "you" as the ultimate foundation.

Japan, as a country known for its longevity, offer concepts that can empower your wellbeing today. At Mogami, we empower everyone to achieve their own best selves with this Japanese-rooted approach.


If you are curious to learn more about Ikigai & Japanese wellness:

  • Subscribe to Mogami's Newsletter that includes our "Ikigai Spotlight Series", where we interview Japanese individuals on their Ikigai. For a LIMITED time only, you can also gain access to our FREE Ikigai Guide

  • LEARN: My Ikigai deep-dive Skillshare Course (FREE 1-Month Trial with this link)

  • LEARN: Introduction to Japanese Calligraphy for Mindfulness (FREE 1-Month Trial with this link)


What area do you want to focus on to become your "greatest" self? Come join our growing Mogami community - ignite your best self-journey today.



About Me

Saori Okada is the Founder of Mogami (最上), a Japanese wellness brand headquartered in London (U.K.). Saori's work focuses on "Mogami's wellness puzzle", which includes five core Japanese wellness centred around longevity, authenticity, and mindfulness. Mogami works with individuals and companies to strengthen their company wellbeing from the inside out.


Saori received her B.S in Commerce from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia and her coaching training as a Certified Transformational Nutrition Coach from the Institute of Transformational Nutrition. Saori also holds her Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from PMI and is a 20-year student of Japanese calligraphy, given the calligraphy name Seisen (星洗). She is also the author of a narrative memoir titled "Until the Death of Me", where she bravely shares her eating disorder recovery journey. After a successful 7-year corporate career in media analytics in New York City and Toronto, Saori moved to London to start Mogami in August 2021.

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