Ichigo Ichie: The Art of Making the Most of Every Moment, the Japanese Way

Ichigo Ichie – and the beauty of impermanence

Sometimes, the people you’ve meet in the great outdoors know you better than those whom you’ve spent most of your life with. Nature has its way of stripping us naked with our titles, achievements, possessions, and affiliations – exposing the truths of us: the best, the worst, and some parts that we have always been running from. That’s why there has been a mischievous tagline shared among hikers and outdoorsmen: to never judge people unless you’ve hiked and camped with them.

Jet is one of these people who have known me to the core thanks to the number of times we’ve come across each other through group hikes and camps. Our shared interest in music (Ed Sheeran and Ellie Goulding), kdrama, and existential crisis probably made him recommend Ichigo Ichie: The Art of Making the Most of Every Moment, the Japanese Way to get through this quarantine season.

What’s with Ichigo Ichie: The Art of Making the Most of Every Moment, the Japanese Way?

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Ichigo Ichie is a self-help book compounded together by authors Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles. It is a short and simple book that hopes to provide a practical guide on how to relish and live every moment of our everyday experiences. Because in this age of digital distraction, instant gratification, and superficial engagement, it becomes more and more difficult to make sense of the moments manifested by the universe to us – that what we are experiencing right now will most probably never happen again.

There is so much about the book that reminded me of the outdoors – the mountains, the stars in the floors of heavens, the explosions of yellows and reds during sunset and sunrise. Simple things that allowed something to blossom inside me. Moments of pure bliss on trails, at the summit, and during those late night socials.

The 10 Principles of Ichigo Ichie that will remind us of our moments with the Mountains

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The mountains have long proven to have helped our mental state. Sadly, the world has taken its toll and we can’t set forth on adventures yet. However, we can make the most of what the mountains have taught us: to meditate and live each and every moment. Here’s how.

  1. Don’t postpone special moments.

Buwis-buhay. That’s how we call those dangerous stunts we’ve done in the mountains. Probably unsettling and illogical for others, but totally mind-blowing for us. The euphoria of the moment. And we do what we do simply because… we’ll never know if it could ever happen to us again. As they say: minsan lang ‘to.

So if there’s one thing that you’ve been so wanting to do: do it – as much as you can, as far as you can, as long as you can. Stop postponing special moments. Who knows, the opportunity may never made itself known to you once again.

  1. Live as if this were going to happen only once in your given life.

Why climb difficult and treacherous mountains? Because you only live once. But if done right, once is enough. Those momentous photos we’ve secretly kept of the mountains we’ve conquered are gentle reminders of the things that we are capable to do.

So my friend, do what truly makes your heart beating and stop wallowing with what other people say of what you must do. It’s your life. Embrace it. As Invictus poetically articulates it: you are the master of your fate: you are the captain of your soul.

  1. Dwell in the present.

There are numerous planned hikes and travels that were awfully canceled because of this pandemic. But we can no longer hurdle with them. But we don’t need to wallow on them. There’s a reason why it’s called the past – it belongs there. What we can do is dwell in the present and make amends of what we can still work out – for the future to come.

  1. Do something you’ve never done before.

Climbing the country’s highest peak. Camping inside a cave for three days. Cliffjumping a 50-meters high waterfalls. These are crazy thing I never I’d be able to do in life. But it happened.

However, doing things we’ve never done before is not limited to the outdoors. While at home or in our working environment, we can always do something that we haven’t tried doing before: say, finishing a book, baking from scratch, working out, or even trying to do online dating.

  1. Practice zazen.

Very few of us have recognized that those times that we paused idly while hiking are pure moments of meditation. We rest our eyes on those greens, listen to our heavy breathing, and just let our minds go wander into blank slate.

When everything feels like an uphill battle, find time to sit and do meditation – to step away from the daily whirlwind of hurry and obligations. Imagine the trails you’ve hiked, all the ascents and difficulties. And then allow yourself to breathe.

  1. Apply mindfulness to your five senses.

They say morning coffees taste best at the summit – with the wonderful view of the sun rising, or with the sea of clouds making itself visible by chance. But no, it’s just the same coffee with the ones you have at home, or the one you ordered on your favorite shop. It’s the moment that made it special because you let all your senses come alive – the warmth of the cup, the bitter aftertaste, the sight before you, the smell of early morning dew, and the sound of light mountain breeze.

Any moment can be turned special if we give ample attention to it. Pause from your hurry and take time to listen, see, touch, hear, and smell whatever is around you.

  1. Notice coincidences.

Our lives are made up of patterns – people always coming up late, things that usually ruin our day, and significant places that transports us back in time. If we are mindful enough, we can get better at reading these signs sent by the universe and even unveil something that we have been long wanting to understand.

  1. Make every gathering a party.

Socials at night is one of the gatherings that a number of hikers look forward to – games, music, or simple conversation about life.

These days, it gets difficult to have organized a party; however, a simple exchange of messages with friends can be of the same worth if we find time to listen to their worries and look into their situations. More than anything else, it’s our presence that make the party keep going.

  1. If you don’t like what there is, make something different.

Isn’t the reason why we started going to the mountains is because we want to do something different – to go beyond the usual? So why not apply the same principle now? If you’re tired of your regular routine, tweak it up – add something new, make it more challenging, or eliminate what’s unnecessary.

  1. Be a hunter of special moments.

When I first went hiking, my phone’s gallery was filled with photos of flowers. But these are no extraordinary flowers. Some of them even grow on the makeshift garden of my mother. But what made those flowers special is that it’s as if it’s the first time I’ve encountered them. The same goes with the waterfalls that were included as sidetrips during our hikes. They were not as magnificent as the ones that we’ve been to, but they are equally beautiful because of the special moments we’ve spent in order to reach it.

In the words of the Little Prince: it is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important. In this fast-paced world, may we continue hunting for special moments – making them more visible in our existence.

Walang forever. Ichigo Ichie has taught me the beauty of impermanence. That nothing lasts forever. And so will this quarantine, this pandemic, the riots of this world, our pains and heartaches. Puhon.


What have you been reading lately? What other self-help books can you recommend for reading? Share them down below or feel free to message me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Let’s make every moment worth living.

Hope to see you soon on trails!


Other book recommendations here:

7 comments

  1. A fruitfu harvest marj orie from Ichigo Ichie. Reflections and the beautiful experiences made your dakilanglaagan post very enriching. Keep on.. Go on climbing happily. It is not always mountain…

    Liked by 1 person

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