The importance of Iyashikei in 2020

This year has been unkind to many of us, despite our best efforts to live “normal” lives we have been challenged by this year’s Pandora’s box:

  • Covid19 pandemic
  • 543,558 deaths because of Covid19
  • People losing jobs because of Covid19
  • The shutdown of businesses around the world because of Covid19
  • Shutdown of schools
  • The balancing act of homeschooling children and remote working
  • Brexit: the United Kingdom withdraws from the European Union
  • Grievous fires in Australia
  • Hong Kong protests
  • Locusts swarms in East Africa
  • Volcano eruption in the Philippines (Taal)
  • The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is deferred until 2021
  • Black lives matter protests in America and around the world
  • Floods in Kyushu Japan
  • Big companies boycott Facebook

And that are just the things I have read and remember. To top it off, we’re just halfway through the year. What about the rest?

When the world is in the shits, it’s hard to deal with everything going on and there has even been an article about adult’s regressing to our teenage selves for comfort. Though I do not condone resigning yourself to “regress” and forget about reality. I think we do what we can to cope with difficult times, as long as we are not hurting anyone else.

Enter, Iyashikei.

Iyashikei is no new-age concept, coming into your life to solve your problems. No, this is just something I stumbled upon that may also take your interest and assist you with coping. The word Iyashikei originates from Japan and is defined as “to heal”, it originates from the word “Iyasu” meaning to heal or mend both physically and psychologically.

The term became popular in Japan when it experienced two of their greatest traumas of the 20th century.

  • The Kobe earthquake
  • Aum Shinrikyo Sarin gas attacks

The Kobe earthquake resulted in 6,000 deaths and 30,000 injured. While Aum Shinrikyo Sarin gas attacks killed 13 people and injured 5,500 individuals. Also, this was the time Japan experienced a slow down to their bustling economy, labelling it as the “Lost Decade” (1991-2000), and so the sub-culture of Iyashikei emerged.

Iyashi Syndrome became products, from food to sex. For women, trends in makeup became evident exchanging harsh and edgy colours to more subdued tones like lavender and soft pink. Highlighting puffy lips and blushed cheeks, to heal oneself and give comfort to others.

Still today, the concept of Iyashikei translates to our own homes without knowing it.

  • Weighted Blanket
  • Animal Crossing
  • Fleece jumpers and coats
  • Fluffy Occasional furniture
  • Lo-fi hip hop soundtrack

We purchase soft, plushy or soothing products to heal our weary souls. To seek solace from the harsh, unforgiving world that we must face each day. We Iyashikei our lives without knowing it.

If you google the word Iyashikei, google will present you with a list of Japanese animes. It is easy to dismiss these “cartoons” but do not underestimate its power to soothe you. Start with the Ghibli Studio classics (which are dubbed in English, thanks to Disney), my recommendations:

  • My Neighbour Totoro
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service
  • Howl’s moving castle

You will see thematic Iyashikei characteristics. Nature and beauty, simple plot and characters and positive affiliations (Summers, childhoods, imagination, peace, and magic). There is inherently something addictive about ambient Iyashikei experiences, perhaps it is the simplicity and the way it consoles us in the least way we expect it.

As they say in Child development, emotional refuelling is important for children to feel secure and continue to explore their world. Maybe for adults, we need Iyashikei to remind of us of that security, so we too can go back into the world and go on.

Credit: Image for the header is called “Celestial Space, Starry Night Sky by Carrie Stephens”.


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