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Messages from the universe (in Japanese)

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

Ever since I was young, I’ve been fascinated by where words come from and I love that there are words from other languages that can’t be translated directly into English without long explanations but that are so good at describing something so specific and elusive at the same time.

The Japanese language has this down to a fine art. Apart from a few words relating to Reiki, I don’t speak Japanese and haven’t even been to Japan (although it’s definitely on my bucket list for when the world is a bit less crazy!) but today, I came across three new Japanese words. I don’t believe in coincidence, so I figure the universe is trying to tell me something!


In Japanese, kintsukuroi means “to repair with gold”. Literally, repairing a broken bowl or pot using gold lacquer and rather than trying to hide the repair, recognising that the bowl has changed and is all the more beautiful and unique from the repair. All the cracks, chips and imperfections become part of the new design and are embraced and celebrated as part of the history and character of the bowl.

How lovely is that?

So next time you’re feeling a bit like a broken bowl, think of kintsukuroi, and remember that you may have flaws and the odd crack or chip here and there, but you have picked yourself up and mended yourself many, many times before. You may have scars but they are made of gold. And these have made you stronger, more resilient and more unique. And that is definitely something to be embraced and celebrated.


Ikigai is made up of two words: iki, meaning “life” and gai, meaning “value or worth” and is literally translated as "the thing that you live for". It is fundamentally about finding your purpose in life. Ikigai is what gets you up in the morning, what inspires you and what brings you joy. It encompasses the idea that there is more to life than money and status.

Considering that Japanese people on average live longer than other nationalities, it’s possible that ikigai is the secret to a long and happy life.


Now this may not apply to everyone, but it I can certainly relate to it! Tsundoku isn’t another number game, but is made up of the characters for the verb meaning “to accumulate, pile up” and the verb “to read”. But it is also a play on the phrase tsunde oku, which means to simply “pile up something and leave it”. It refers to the behaviour (habit? addiction?) of constantly buying books that accumulate but never get read. Anyone who can relate to this is now probably saying to themselves “I’ll get round to reading them one of these days!”

So I wonder exactly what the universe is trying to tell me today?

Joss Anderson is a qualified and experienced Shamanic Practitioner, Shamanic Reiki Master Practitioner and ICF-accredited coach, based in Cambridgeshire, UK and online.

© Joss Anderson 2021; © The Wild Edges, 2021

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