VoiceOver users please use the tab key when navigating expanded menus

Ikigai: A reason for being

“We essentially were on a journey that Dad wanted to go on but didn’t get the chance.” - Jun

IKIGAI. An almost ineffable Japanese concept that means ‘a reason for being’. Although the meaning is ambiguous,  Ikigai is thought to combine the Japanese words Ikiru - meaning “to live”-  and kai -meaning ‘the realisation of what one hopes for’.  Together these definitions express the idea and the emotion of having a purpose in life.


“My family’s Ikigai is now Dad, to continue the legacy he has left us with, the family,” explains Jun Sawa.


Legacy and Heritage


For Jun, the flexibility provided by ANZ has allowed him to carry on his late father’s legacy – both through their shared passion for photography and also through rediscovering his Japanese heritage.


After the devastating loss of his father after an 18 month struggle with multiple myeloma – a cancer of the plasma cells in bone marrow - Jun utilised three weeks of annual leave at work to accompany his mother back to their home country of Japan late last year.


“We essentially were on a journey that Dad wanted to go on but didn’t get the chance.” Jun says.


“Dad had mapped out a couple of places he and Mum wanted to go, so Mum took on that mantle. It was for us to carry on the legacy of what Dad wanted – in terms of travelling and exploring but also documenting Japan in a photographic sense. Dad was also a photographer and had quite a few exhibitions titled “Japan Diary” which was a look at traditional Japan venturing the Tokkaido road.


Passion project


This extraordinary talent for photography has evidently been passed down through the generations. Jun’s older brother Isamu has built a successful career as a commercial photographer with his photographic works exhibited at a number of shows, including one with their late father.


Jun’s work - which spans still photography, time-lapses, hyper-lapses and more recently a foray into video – is polished as well as deeply moving, introspective and reflective. And he does it all while holding a full-time job at ANZ.




When asked what he would do if he could take more paid annual leave he’s clear: “I always look to do work on projects for myself around rejuvenation and for purpose – that is, me taking time out. One of the projects is around nature.”


His future project is imbued with a spirit of ikigai.


"That’s not just rejuvenating my body but also exploring the Bunyip State Forest after the recent bush fires,” he says.


“I want to go in there and photographically document the rejuvenation period from a fire – all the trees and plants – it’s a living kind of thing, right? It goes from darkness, and then rejuvenates again.”


Related articles

Ordinary people, extraordinary talent

For Dan Carney, the Kaleidoscope charity art auction allows him to shed his ANZ suit and reveal his superpower to the world.

Soup for the soul

Sometimes you don’t have to go a long way to give back.

Single, working parents: I salute you!

Sam King is a single mother, full-time employee at ANZ and her family live in New Zealand. So how exactly does she manage it all?