Ikigai (生き甲斐 - pronounced "ee-ki-guy") is the Japanese equivalent of the French, raison d'être. In English, these translate respectively as: 'something important one lives for', and 'a reason for being'.
Although the meanings are similar, cultural attitudes towards the concept they embody, differ.
Few possess a raison d’être, but those who go through life with an enduring passion for something, can be consumed by it to the detriment of social relationships and a "normal" lifestyle. Thus, there are seen to be both desirable and undesirable aspects to having a raison d’être.
Everyone, according to the Japanese, has a hidden ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self. Such a search is regarded as being very important, since it is believed that discovery of one's ikigai brings satisfaction and meaning to life.
Found at dkos' Abreviated Pundit Round-Up which was referring to a Boston Globe oped, A Life Worth Living. That oped is talking about Japanese seniors and their continuing pursuit of 'ikigai. I like it - the word and the meaning. Now to find a visual representation of it...