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Ikigai Spotlight Series: Rie Lee Kimoto (31), HARKEN Inc. Creative Director, based in London, UK & Tokyo, Japan

Updated: Jul 1

Rie: I was mentally unwell due to personal relationships...

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 Rie Lee Kimoto (31), HARKEN Inc. Creative Director, based in London, UK & Tokyo, Japan.

Photo credit: Jukan Tateishi

Tell us your story.

I was born and raised between the sea and the mountains in Wakayama Prefecture, surrounded by nothing but nature. I later attended Musashino Art University and started a design company in Tokyo three years ago. In March 2024, I moved to London to attend UCL. I will be studying cultural anthropology, focusing on the indivisibility between artificiality and naturalness.

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

It’s such a common word that I don't remember exactly, but I think I learned about it when I was around six or seven years old.

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

As a child, my Ikigai was drawing, something I was praised for and excelled at. Now, it is personal creative activities that drive me to revisit my own work, such as writing, taking photos, and capturing moments of beauty or discomfort through these mediums.

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

When I naturally start thinking and speaking in English, it feels like I'm meeting another authentic version of myself. It seems like the more languages I learn, the more versions of myself I discover.

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 when I was mentally unwell due to personal relationships and had to visit a hospital. Keeping a diary and making it a habit to count the beautiful things in life, along with exposing myself to nature with close friends, significantly improved my health.

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

I believe that Ikigai is not something to be sought after, but something that already exists. It doesn't only come from things you are good at or successful in; sometimes, the process of dealing with things you are not good at can also become your Ikigai.

Photo credit: Ayana Hirose


Saori's reflection

Rie-san's perspective on "the more languages I learn, the more versions of myself I discover" is essential to contemplate. When I consider why Ikigai has garnered such global interest, I believe people are eager to uncover a version of themselves that embodies the spirit of Ikigai. Although I don't think the Venn Diagram is the best way to illustrate this concept, I do feel that it originates from good intentions. I would delve into this desire and explore the Japanese characters that make up the word Ikigai, as it can help us discover a new facet of ourselves, as Rie-san has beautifully demonstrated.


Do you want to learn more?

You can follow and support Rie-san and her work below. 


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



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