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An interview with Professor Toshio Kawai, “Seeking Oneself from the Age of 40” was published in Nikkei ARIA

An interview with Prof. Toshio Kawai, “Seeking Oneself from the Age of 40” was published in Nikkei ARIA.

Nikkei ARIA, launched in February 2019, is a web magazine mainly targeting working women in their 40s to 50s. The interview is divided into 3 parts: “one is not necessarily within oneself”, “unconscious anxiety and self-seeking traps” and “the ‘midlife crisis’ of today and the couple’s crisis”.


In the interview, Prof. Kawai first discussed social media posts and contemporary trends concerning the eyes of others. He pointed out that even if we appear to disclose ourselves on social media, we may hold back considerably to ensure that we do not stand out too much. In addition to this “unconsciously repressed self,” the social system itself has not changed well, though the stages of life have diversified. Prof. Kawai stated that this tendency causes palpable anxiety and difficulty in living.


Based on these statements, Prof. Kawai suggested the following process for “Seeking Oneself”: if one releases oneself from one’s perceived constraints, something may spontaneously arise from within, where one suddenly finds oneself emerging. That will be reflected in the phrase “this is what I have actually wanted to do!” He also said that there are other ways to discover oneself from outside, for example, by finding one’s own unique place in the form of a pilgrimage. As for the relationship with one’s partner after raising their child, Prof. Kawai said that it would be better for Japanese people to move side-by-side rather than face-to-face. Here, he also suggested a pilgrimage in which two people can walk side-by-side.


His interview concluded by stating that today we live with unrealistic social media and can easily find unscientific attitudes, such as fortune-telling, everywhere. If one chases one’s own ‘reality’ as “Seeking Oneself” in such an age, it would be important to be moved by things even if one recognizes they are fake, or to take things from the imaginary world and to connect them to our own real world.


(Reported by:Hisae Konakawa, Program-Specific Research Fellow)



The webpage of Nikkei ARIA (Japanese only)


(1) Prioritizing “How do people see me?” makes “I” superficiality



(2) Diversification of life stages and institutional barriers increase unaware anxiety.



(3) After raising child, “seeking oneself” has started by review of the relationships with one’s partner.