The Ikigai Diagram and the Meaning of Sanpo-Yoshi Business

Posted by

The Ikigai Diagram and the Meaning of Sanpo-Yoshi Business is the topic of today’s post.

What is the meaning of Sanpo-Yoshi? I will explain it in a minute, but first let me talk about writing and hygge.


Writing is hygge for me. If I were to choose the most fulfilling activity, I must say, it would be writing for me. Taking a morning walk along the rice paddies is fantastic, having coffee at the Engawa, the Japanese version of a porch is fabulous, drinking wine in my yard early evening is magnificent, and yet nothing surpasses the joy of writing. That means I am a natural-born writer.


Yes, writing is something I love to do.


Sometime in August last year, my friend Sam sent me the link to this article about Ikigai Is this Japanese concept the secret to a long, happy, meaningful life?, and it was the first time I heard about it. Of course, I knew the Japanese word ikigai, but I didn’t know about the diagram and the concept of ikigai was drawing attention abroad.


When I saw the diagram, I was a little surprised because it was similar to the things I had written in my book Zen and a Way of Sustainable Prosperity which I published in May of that year.


In my book, I illustrated how you could find a Sanpo-Yoshi business.

1, Find something you love to do

2, Find something you are good at

3, Find something that pleases your customers. Another word, find something that has demand.

4, Find something that benefits the society


Looks similar, doesn’t it?


It all came from the concept of Sanpo-Yoshi which is the teaching of Omi-merchants. Sanpo-Yoshi means benefiting three parties; you as the seller, the customers, and society.

ZENWSP Pechakucha2


Urite-Yoshi, the seller, is happy

Kaite-Yoshi, the buyer, is happy

Seken-Yoshi, society is happy


Therefore, a Sanpo-Yoshi business means a business that makes you as the seller happy, makes the customers happy, and makes the society you live in happy. Another word, the business of three-way satisfaction.


For Omi-merchants, making the seller happy meant the business was profitable, but when I thought of what makes me happy as the seller, doing what I love doing was more pleasurable than conducting a profitable business. Mind you, there was no concept of doing what you wanted to do as your work at the time of Omi-merchants’ era. You couldn’t choose your occupation. If you were born as a farmer you become a farmer; if you were born as a merchant, you become a merchant. And for a merchant, you sell something that customers want, not you. Especially Omi-merchants regarded work to be doing what your customers want and need, because it was a Buddhist act, serving others.


However, we live in a different age, and for a lot of us doing what we love to do as work is a dream comes true.


Nonetheless, I came across a problem, that it isn’t easy to make money by doing what you love. It may not be able to meet the second element; making the customers happy.


Then I thought of doing what you are good at. Since you are good at it, you can deliver a decent quality in your work and it will be more likely to please your customers.


I gave my example of how I switched from writing which I loved to do to English coaching which I was good at. Well, to be exact, I wasn’t better at it, but there was much higher demand.


How to capitalize on what you love is another tip I provided in the book. You can read about it in both IKIGAI BUSINESS and Zen and a Way of Sustainable Prosperity. I recommend that you read IKIGAI BUSINESS first because it is much shorter and focusing on finding your Sanpo-Yoshi business. ZENWSP is more comprehensive covering many other aspects. If you are interested in health and happiness as well, you will find ZENWSP more interesting.


Anyway, how to capitalize on what you love sounds like what you can be paid for in the Ikigai Diagram, doesn’t it?


Click here to get a free newsletter Zen and a Way of sustainable prosperity: Balance, financial success, and sustainability with the secrets of the Japanese Omi-merchants.


When I read the article Is this Japanese concept the secret to a long, happy, meaningful life?though, I didn’t pay much attention to it, because other than the diagram, it didn’t seem to have much of a connection with ZENWSP. The concept of Ikigai described in the article seemed to be seen and practiced throughout Japan, but I didn’t think so. Most Japanese people don’t know of this concept, and Japan was the last country I associated with happiness both in personal and social level. Japan needed to change a lot in the field of personal growth, environmental issues, education, and politics. That is why I developed ZENWSP to help people transform. But this article suggested that Japan already was in good shape with Ikigai.


By the way, where did this concept of ikigai described in the diagram come from? I had never heard of it, and neither have most Japanese. You can ask your Japanese friend to check if you like.


Let’s find out about it in the next post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s