Oubaitori Life is a series that celebrates the richness of Japanese philosophy. It follows the lives of different characters and how they would apply Japanese concepts to their daily routines. One-Punch Man’s Saitama has many reasons for forming a specific routine that works for him. Determined to fight an opponent that matches his strength, Saitama suffers from severe depression.
But through adhering to certain principles, Saitama can find ways to manage his depression and improve his mental health.
Ikigai is a fundamental part of Japanese society. It’s the act of finding a purpose. Of knowing what it is that gets you out of bed in the morning. The concept can be split into four categories:
- What you love
- What you’re good at
- What the world needs
- What you can get paid for
Saitama’s ikigai is finding a fighter that can give him a worthy challenge. It’s what drives and motivates him. What he loves is being able to test his strength. What he’s good at is beating his opponents with one punch. What the world needs is a selfless hero like Saitama who isn’t interested in the fame or fortune that other ‘heroes’ of the One-Punch Man universe crave.
A furo is a traditional Japanese bath found in the home. But it has significance as a mental health concept as well. Getting into a furo isn’t about cleaning the body. It’s about cleansing the mind and taking the time to relax. It’s the perfect opportunity to reflect and wash away any negativity felt during the day.
One of Saitama’s favourite habits is soaking in the bath at home. He uses it as a place for reflection and a moment to sit with his thoughts.
Hara Hachi Bu
An Okinawan phrase, hara hachi bu translates to ‘eat until you are 80% full.’ What this means is that rather than eating everything on your plate, take the time to decide when you feel comfortably full. Pause to consider the physical sensations of the food. Let your body process what has been ingested. If you’re not satisfied, then eat some more.
While Saitama enjoys food, he recognises that a hara hachi bu approach can help him be more mindful with how he eats. He’s able to maintain the right amount of calories and energy that is so crucial to making him the strongest superhero in his universe.
Shibui refers to a simple and unobtrusive kind of beauty. A shibui object can be unassuming yet still have a sophisticated and elegant appearance. Shibui is uncomplicated, functional and striking.
From a mental health perspective, shibui is about enjoying the simple things in life. It’s about appreciating the joy of wearing a favourite shirt or taking the time to feel the sensations of the wind caressing your skin on a hot day.
Saitama applies shibui to his life by keeping everything uncomplicated. All he wants to do is save lives, find worthy challenges and keep his apartment tidy. They are simple pleasures that are intrinsic to him.
In English, shukanka means ‘forming the habit.’ It involves finding a way to make positive routines stick and develop self-discipline. But it’s not about forcing yourself into a new set of behaviours overnight. It’s about making small steps to improve day by day.
In the context of Saitama’s mental health, shukanka is something that he used to struggle with. His depression became so great that he couldn’t form any positive habits. It was a numbing sensation that made him relapse back into negative thoughts.
But through befriending other heroes like Genos, Saitama has become more disciplined in how he manages his mental health. Each small step counts and that’s all anyone can ask for.