What’s your Ikiru project?

During college I took a 1-credit course on Akira Kurosawa. One of the screened films was Ikiru, the story of a dying bureaucrat who makes the most of his last days by planning a children’s park.*My memory of the film itself is a little fuzzy, but the last few whirlwind minutes, in which the lead character navigates red tape and makes the park come alive, have always stuck with me.

I’ve always had a thing for tales of passion and obsession. Like the New Yorker writer Susan Orlean, I’ve struggled to find a single goal or issue that I want to follow to the end, so I compensate by learning about these possessed people who dedicate their lives to a single subject or cause. What I’ve dubbed an “Ikiru Project” is a task that makes one feel more alive than ever before (Ikiru means “to live”), but requires utter devotion to complete.

Have you ever completed an Ikiru Project? Are you working on one right now? Tell me about it.

*one of my hopes for the shaky Parks and Recreation TV Series is that it becomes a serial Ikiru, serving as both inspiration and guide for people attempting similar projects.

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1 Response to “What’s your Ikiru project?”


  1. 1 michael July 7, 2009 at 5:56 am

    one of the things that sticks with me about the film is that he doesn’t just navigate red tape. the film builds up the cultural level of the bureaucracy as well as political. he subjugates and almost is almost ‘someone to be ashamed of’ in his pursuit. i’m doing the layers of the film and culture no justice here, of course, but there are many layers there.

    this combined with his goal to do it not for his own glory…

    it’s a beautiful and complex film.


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