Have you heard of Ichigo Ichie? Have you ever been Moment Hunting?
I recently took a walk through some of the most beautiful countryside in Japan where I had the privilege of staying in mountain villages with local host families. At one such stay, high in the mountains, I had the pleasure of meeting a lady by the name of Setsuko. Setsuko shared her wisdom with me on a number of counts, and she taught me about Ichigo Ichie – or Moment Hunting.
Setsuko lives alone. Her husband died many years ago. She told me she never got to travel but wanted to see the world – so she opened up her traditional home as a guest house to pilgrims on the Kumano Kodo. That way, she told me, the world comes to her every night.
Setsuko’s English is very good. She didn’t speak a word of English prior to taking in Pilgrims – everything she knows she learned by listening and speaking with these visitors to her home.
She is truly a woman of the world and she need not leave her dining room.
I’ve always believed the best way to experience a country (or part of it) is to walk it – I would add that staying with generous local people in their homes adds a further dimension and is such a privilege. I was blessed to meet Setsuko and she remains in my heart.
What is Ichigo Ichie?
On a wall in the guest room I was sleeping in at Setsuko’s home was a small wooden plaque with some Japanese writing on it. I asked Setsuko what it said.
She asked me to sit down and began to explain to me that it was Ichigo Ichie – a Japanese four-character idiom (yojijukugo) that describes a cultural concept of treasuring the unrepeatable nature of a moment.
In essence, the message of Ichigo Ichie is that what we are experiencing right now will never happen again.
In living Ichigo Ichie, we are asked to value each moment like a beautiful treasure.
We are asked to become MOMENT HUNTERS. I fell in love with this concept. Moment Hunting. It makes me feel a bit like a Warrior on an adventure …..hunting down moments.
Moment Hunting and Ichigo Ichie encompasses both the idea of observing and cherishing each moment, and the practice of harnessing that attention to achieve harmony with others and love of life.
Setsuko told me that when we do this – we are living Ichigo Ichie.
Living Ichigo Ichie
This hit home for me as I had found myself being extremely present in all my moments along this solo walk along the Kumano Kodo. Immersed in what my eyes saw, what I could smell, and what I could sense. What I didn’t know at the time was that I was living Ichigo Ichie. I was moment hunting.
I’ve committed to bringing Ichigo Ichie back to my day to day life. I’m a Moment Hunter in training, and I’m excited about this journey.
When was the last time you went Moment Hunting?
What moment is in front of you right now?
Are you present to it fully? Cherishing it? Harnessing that attention?
Are you living Ichigo Ichie?
“Let your life be your Message” Mahatma Gandhi
Written by Michelle McFadyen
Michelle is the founder of Life Support Australia. She is a writer, an adventurer and a traveller, a corporate leader, a student and a teacher. A Strengths Profiler, Conflict and Strengths Coach, qualified Counsellor and Positive Psychology Practitioner, Michelle’s focus during her extensive career in senior executive positions in the corporate and public sector has always been on people.
Michelle loves to hike and travel and makes this a priority in her life. Her experiences include annually guiding groups across the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea, summiting Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa and Mt Kinabalu in Borneo and trekking to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. A solo 920km pilgrimage across Spain has kept those fires alive, along with a recent hike across the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage route in Japan.