“Ikiru,” in Japanese, means a number of different things:
- to live; to exist
- to make a living; to subsist
- to be in effect; to be in use; to function
- to come to life; to be enlivened
- to be safe (in baseball, go, etc.)
The film IKIRU, directed by Akira Kurosawa and released in 1952, is a classic of Japanese film. It is a heartwarming and heart wrenching story of a bureaucrat in Tokyo, a man whose days are always the same, full of endless piles of paper essentially “signifying nothing.” He finds out one day that he has terminal cancer and less than a year to live. His world is instantly upended, and over the next few months, he goes through all the stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — and finally finds a way to do something meaningful with the time he has remaining in his life.
It’s a very moving story, and expresses all the different meanings of the word “Ikiru,” especially the fourth definition, to learn to live! I’ve watched it numerous times over the years, and it is one of my favorite movies. I highly recommend it.