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Ikigai Spotlight Series: Hiroki Uda (36), Restaurant Manager of HIDEN based in London, UK.

Hiroki: I felt like my entire world was collapsing...

Ikigai is a concept that is very much integral to Japanese culture. The word 'Ikigai' can be roughly translated to your 'reason for being', or purpose and is not confined to the ‘Venn Diagram’. More on its 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 would like to highlight this nuance with our 'Ikigai Spotlight Series'.

This month's featured guest is Hiroki Uda (36), Restaurant Manager of HIDEN based in London, UK.

Tell us your story.

I was born and raised in Osaka until the age of 25. After working as an office worker for three years, I embarked on a journey around the world, visiting 50 countries over the span of 10 years. I was under various visas such as the YMS visa and Working Holiday visa to facilitate my travels. It was during my time in London, on my first visit with a YMS visa, that I met my current boss. He later reached out to me and invited me back to London to assist him in running his restaurant business.

Though I don't possess formal chef training, I have gained experience working in restaurants across several countries. Currently, we operate two Japanese curry restaurants in Kings Cross and Finsbury Park.

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

At around 20 years old.

What has been your personal journey with your Ikigai(s) or reason for being?

As a child, there were times when I considered others, but my behaviour often leaned towards selfishness, causing me to be avoided or isolated by those around me. However, even then, I never wavered in asserting my own will. It was as if I could only see myself. Amidst this, as my parents aged, I witnessed firsthand their transformation into wonderful adults—increasingly motivated, proactive, and flexible, contrary to societal expectations and conventions. 


Observing this evolution up close inspired me to strive to become a better person, to ponder the essential aspects of living as a human being, and to find my very own version of Ikigai. Consequently, I began to engage in extensive reading, explore various places, travel, and confront myself, gradually shaping who I am today.

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

By acting without seeking only a small return, but rather to delight in naturally engaging with others, and to prioritise their happiness. Simply by striving for such behaviour, I often find myself supported by those around me without realising it, and I frequently experience moments where I feel unknowingly filled with joy by others. Whether it's in conversations with store staff, friends or colleagues, or even in brief encounters with strangers while out and about, I often sense this connection.

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

There have been many times when I felt like my entire world was collapsing, such as when I experienced setbacks in basketball, which I had been striving for since the second grade when my performance as a salesperson stagnated, or when my family seemed on the brink of falling apart. During these times, I found myself in a mindset that seemed to deny everything about myself, as if it were the end of the world, and I was being pulled toward a negative direction. Of course, I couldn't always bounce back immediately, and there were times when I struggled. However, I constantly reminded myself that "the world I see and feel right now is not everything," took deep breaths, lifted my gaze, and from there, I could enjoy things from a different perspective, rediscover my strengths, reaffirm the value of my family, and express gratitude once again.

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

Even if it's slow, even if you have to stop for a while, I want to say, let's keep looking forward and walking. I've lived each day by focusing only on fulfilling the tasks at hand to the best of my ability, always being grateful to my family, and consciously spreading gratitude and happiness from those closest to me.

As a result, I've now obtained a fulfilling job and position, and I'm living a fulfilling life with enjoyable colleagues and friends. Of course, not everything goes perfectly 100% of the time. But even when I stumble, I lift my head again, knowing that there will surely be good things ahead, and by continuing to walk, I've been reminded by those around me and by myself, and I've come to discover my Ikigai in unexpected moments.


Saori's reflection

I am inspired by Hiroki Uda's journey from Osaka to London, which beautifully illustrates the dynamic nature of Ikigai. His shift from a self-focused youth to a life centred around the happiness of others highlights the profound evolution that comes with seeking one's purpose. Hiroki's resilience in overcoming personal and professional setbacks by adopting a perspective of gratitude and connection is a powerful reminder that Ikigai is found in everyday interactions and the support of those around us. His story encourages us to keep looking forward, appreciating that our purpose is ever-evolving and deeply personal. Thank you, Hiroki, for sharing your journey and reminding us that Ikigai is always within reach, even in unexpected moments.


Do you want to learn more?

You can follow and support Hiroki-san and HIDEN Curry for an authentic taste of Japan. 


HIDEN Curry serves crafted, authentic Japanese curry made from the freshest ingredients and a secret blend of spices. If you're in London, don't miss out on their incredible Japanese curry and a friendly reminder to start your meal with the Japanese gratitude practice of "Itadaki-masu" (I humbly receive this meal)  to dig into this deliciously crafted meal.


Visit for more details.


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



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