Ichigo Ichie – Let’s go Moment Hunting

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.  


Ichigo Ichie
Moment Hunting Japanese Cherry Blossoms

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.


Moment Hunting
All those moments to hunt

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.

Learn more about Michelle on the Life Support Australia About page.

How to change the world – by Steve the homeless guy

I can change the world.  I know that now.

I once gave a homeless man my socks. I was walking back to my hotel from a concert in Sydney one night and this fellow was asleep in a lane without a blanket or shoes and socks. It was really cold. I took my boots off. Removed my socks and put them on his feet myself. He didn’t move. I thought he might be dead. But he wasn’t. He was probably just a bit frozen.

From that time I always wondered about people living rough on the streets. Where were their families, their friends? What happened to get them here? What mattered to them?

Today though, I’m walking the streets of Melbourne trying to find a coffee shop that’s open.  It’s early and I’m bemoaning the weight of my laptop bag and my choice of shoes.  First world problems.

I read his sign, I look at him briefly as I pass by.  Not wanting to make eye contact – I mean what do I do if I make eye contact with him?  Smiling is hardly appropriate, the guy’s lying on the street with a piece of cardboard asking for help – and I briskly walk past and smile?  Hardly.  So maybe I could just nod.  You know that slight tilt of the head in the other person’s general direction, an acknowledgement without emotion or message.  Just a nod.  Yeah maybe I could just nod.  There’s too much to think about – so I divert my eyes as he looks up, but I still see, from my peripheral vision, that he smiled at me.  I didn’t smile back, I didn’t even acknowledge this human.  Now I’m past him and I feel like shit.

I order my large and strong flat white, a croissant and some banana bread and take a seat looking out in to the busy Melbourne streets.  I try to get him out of my mind.  His name is Steve.  I read it on his cardboard sign.

Where are his family? His loved ones? Why has he got no tribe and no support? What brought him on to the streets? Why did I ignore him?

The croissant is good and the coffee is better.  I needed that.  It’s been a big few days and I head home tomorrow.  Another full day of business to attend to first .  I think about my day and what’s in store.  I struggle though, because Steve’s all I can think about.

No matter what I turn my mind to – reading, people watching, tram watching – I can’t get Steve out of my mind. I finish my croissant and grab my bag. I keep out my pre-packaged banana bread I just brought and get a $20 note from my bag. I have to go help Steve.

Then I stop myself, put the money back in my bag.  What am I thinking? How can I help him? There are hundreds of Steve’s on the streets of Melbourne right now. I can’t help them all. I can’t change the world.

Then I remember something I heard in a presentation a few days ago. It was said in the context of community engagement but I feel it relates to all aspects of our lives:

Show up on a scale where you can be powerful.

 How might I show up on a scale where I can be powerful?

I can be powerful in my compassion and care for Steve on this brisk but sunny Melbourne weekday morning. I can’t get Steve an apartment and a job and I have no idea what really matters to Steve. But this morning on this Melbourne street, I can read his sign. I can acknowledge him as a fellow human being.  I can hand him a coffee and banana bread.  I could drop the $20 in his hat along with the coins already in there and walk away.

Or I could look him in the eye, talk to him and tell him I hope he can keep his spirits up and that his circumstances get better and actually hand him that $20. I could really let him know that I see him, here on this Melbourne morning, outside a café, lying on cardboard and asking for help.

I get the money back out of my bag and I go to Steve.

I showed up this morning on a scale where I could be powerful.

I didn’t change the world, but in Steve’s world I made a small dent.

So in a way, I guess I did change the world this morning – thanks to Steve and lessons he taught me by just being Steve.

“Sweetheart. Oh thank you sweetheart. Bless you. You’ve no idea. Thank you sweetheart. Bless you”. 

That’s what I heard when I was walking away from Steve, and that’s what I heard all day in my head.

Bless you Steve for the lesson and for allowing me to change to world, to dent your world, just a little, today.

What are you doing today to show up on a scale where you can be powerful?  How can you dent the world today? 

“Let your life be your message” Mahatma Gandhi