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Journey Through Life With the Wisdom of the Forest

Medicine for the soul – 命の薬


“Nuchi gusui” is a term in the Okinawan dialect of Japanese that means “medicine for the soul.” It is a concept that emphasizes the importance of finding purpose and meaning in life in order to achieve overall well-being and happiness. Read on Ikigai here.

The origin of the term “nuchi gusui” can be traced back to Okinawa, a group of islands in southern Japan with a unique culture and history. Okinawa has one of the highest life expectancies in the world, and the concept of “nuchi gusui” is believed to be one of the factors that contributes to this longevity.

In Okinawan culture, “nuchi gusui” is considered to be a way of life rather than a specific practice. It involves finding one’s purpose in life and living in accordance with that purpose, which can help to cultivate a sense of well-being and fulfillment.

The Japanese writing for “nuchi gusui” is「命の薬」( “inochi no kusuri”). In the Okinawan dialect, it is written as “ヌチグスイ” (nuchi gusui) using katakana, one of the Japanese writing systems.

There are many poems in Japanese literature that touch upon the themes of finding purpose and meaning in life, and some of these poems reference the concept of “inochi no kusuri” or “medicine for the soul.” Here is one example:


“Yama no kami ni,
Inochi no kusuri,
Mochi-ike ni.”

This poem is by the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) and can be translated to:

“Medicine for the soul,
From the mountain gods,
Found in the mochi pond.”

In this poem, Basho suggests that the “medicine for the soul” can be found in unexpected places, such as a humble mochi (rice cake) pond. The mountain gods represent the natural world and the idea that nature can provide the answers we seek in life.

Another poem that touches upon similar themes is by the Japanese poet and essayist Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933):


“Kono sekai wa,
Nanika no meijin ni,
Tsukurarete iru.”

This poem can be translated to:

“This world has been,
Created by some master of something,

In this poem, Miyazawa suggests that each person has a unique talent or purpose that they can use to contribute to the world in a meaningful way. The poem encourages readers to reflect on their own strengths and talents, and to use them to make a positive impact on the world.

Finding one’s “medicine for the soul” or “inochi no kusuri” is an important aspect of leading a fulfilling and meaningful life. By identifying the things that bring us joy, purpose, and a sense of fulfillment, we can cultivate a greater sense of well-being and happiness. It can be easy to get caught up in the daily stresses and pressures of life, but taking the time to reflect on what truly matters to us can help us to live with greater intention and purpose. Whether it’s a hobby, a career path, or a particular cause, finding our “medicine for the soul” can provide us with a sense of direction and meaning. So take the time to explore your passions and interests, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Who knows, you may just discover your own “medicine for the soul” and find a greater sense of fulfillment in life.


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