Finding Freedom in Routine: Insights from ‘Perfect Days’

10 min readJun 19, 2024


In the film “Perfect Days,” directed by Wim Wenders, we are introduced to Hirayama, a public toilet cleaner in Tokyo whose life is marked by simplicity and routine. Despite the mundanity of his job, Hirayama finds profound beauty and freedom in his everyday tasks. This article explores how the film illustrates the concept of finding freedom in routine and what lessons we can draw from it for our own lives.

The Beauty of Everyday Life

“Perfect Days” shines a light on the often-overlooked beauty in everyday life. Through Hirayama’s meticulous cleaning of public toilets, we see a man who takes pride in his work and finds joy in simple tasks. The film’s minimalist style, inspired by Japanese director Yasujirō Ozu, captures these moments of tranquility and reflection, suggesting that freedom is not about escaping the mundane but embracing it fully.

Hirayama’s daily routines are depicted with a gentle reverence, transforming what many would consider menial labor into a form of art. His dedication to cleanliness and order in public restrooms is not merely about hygiene; it’s a manifestation of his respect for his surroundings and the people who share these spaces. This meticulous care can inspire us to see our own routines in a new light, recognizing the potential for beauty and meaning in the tasks we perform daily.

Character Analysis: Hirayama

Hirayama’s character is central to understanding the film’s message. He lives a life of routine, yet this routine provides him with a sense of order and peace. Key scenes, such as his interactions with a female bar owner and his solitary moments of reading and listening to music, reveal his inner world and the quiet contentment he derives from it.

Through these moments, we see a man who has found his own form of freedom in the predictability and simplicity of his daily life. Hirayama’s character exemplifies how embracing routine can lead to a deeper appreciation of the present moment. His life is a testament to the idea that happiness is not necessarily found in excitement or constant change but in the stability and comfort of the familiar.

Hirayama’s interactions are minimal but meaningful. His relationship with the female bar owner, for instance, is characterized by mutual respect and understated affection. These quiet, unspoken bonds highlight the value of human connection in a life focused on routine and simplicity. Even in his solitude, Hirayama finds companionship in books and music, suggesting that one can cultivate a rich inner life even in the absence of constant social interaction.


Lessons from ‘Perfect Days’

The film offers several valuable lessons about finding freedom in everyday life:

  1. Mindfulness: Hirayama’s attention to detail in his work reflects a deep sense of mindfulness. Being present in the moment can transform mundane tasks into meaningful experiences. By focusing entirely on the task at hand, whether it’s cleaning a toilet or reading a book, Hirayama shows us how mindfulness can turn routine activities into meditative practices.
  2. Simplicity: The simplicity of Hirayama’s life allows him to appreciate the small joys, such as a perfect song or the play of sunlight through leaves. This appreciation for simplicity is a reminder that happiness often lies in the small, everyday pleasures that we might otherwise overlook. By stripping away unnecessary complexities, we can create space for these simple joys to flourish.
  3. Contentment: Hirayama’s acceptance of his life circumstances teaches us that true freedom comes from within and is not dependent on external achievements or possessions. His contentment is not tied to what he has or what he does but rather to his acceptance of the present moment and his circumstances. This inner peace is a powerful lesson in finding fulfillment regardless of one’s external situation.

Applying These Lessons to Our Lives

To apply these lessons in our own lives, we can:

  • Practice Mindfulness: Engage fully in each task, no matter how trivial it seems. By focusing our attention on the present moment, we can find a deeper sense of satisfaction and peace in our daily routines. This practice can help us reduce stress and increase our overall well-being.
  • Embrace Simplicity: Focus on what truly matters and let go of unnecessary complexities. Simplifying our lives can help us appreciate the beauty in everyday moments and reduce the distractions that often prevent us from being present. This might involve decluttering our physical spaces, simplifying our schedules, or minimizing our material possessions.
  • Cultivate Gratitude: Keep a journal to regularly note down things you are thankful for. By cultivating a sense of gratitude, we can shift our focus from what we lack to what we have, fostering a greater sense of contentment and happiness. This practice can help us recognize and appreciate the small, positive moments in our daily lives.

The Role of Storytelling in Personal Growth

Storytelling, as demonstrated in “Perfect Days,” can be a powerful tool for personal growth. Sharing stories helps us process our experiences, connect with others, and inspire change. The film’s narrative encourages us to find and share our own stories of everyday beauty and freedom.

Storytelling allows us to see our lives from a different perspective, highlighting the significance of moments that might otherwise seem insignificant. By sharing our experiences, we can connect with others who might be going through similar situations, offering support and understanding. This process of sharing and listening can foster a sense of community and belonging, which is essential for personal growth.

Building Community through Shared Stories

Community plays a crucial role in our journey towards personal freedom. By sharing our stories and listening to others, we build connections and support systems that enhance our sense of belonging and freedom. Participatory storytelling initiatives can help foster these connections and create a supportive community.

These initiatives can take many forms, from community storytelling events to online platforms where people can share their experiences. By participating in these activities, we can create spaces where individuals feel heard and valued, promoting a sense of solidarity and mutual support. This communal aspect of storytelling can help us realize that we are not alone in our struggles and that there is strength in sharing our journeys.

The Importance of Routine in Mental Health

The routine depicted in “Perfect Days” also highlights the importance of structure in maintaining mental health. Consistent routines can provide a sense of stability and predictability, which are crucial for managing stress and anxiety. By establishing regular habits, we can create a framework that supports our mental and emotional well-being.

Routine can help regulate our daily activities, ensuring that we allocate time for essential self-care practices such as exercise, healthy eating, and sufficient sleep. This structured approach can also help us manage our time more effectively, reducing the feeling of being overwhelmed by our responsibilities. In this way, routine can serve as a foundation for building a balanced and fulfilling life.


Finding Meaning in Work

Hirayama’s dedication to his work demonstrates that any job, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can be a source of pride and fulfillment. By taking pride in his work, Hirayama transforms his daily tasks into meaningful activities. This perspective can inspire us to find meaning and satisfaction in our own work, regardless of our job titles or responsibilities.

This approach involves shifting our mindset from seeing work as a means to an end to viewing it as an opportunity for personal growth and contribution. By focusing on the positive aspects of our work and the value it brings to others, we can cultivate a sense of purpose and satisfaction in our professional lives. This attitude can enhance our overall well-being and increase our engagement and productivity.

Embracing Solitude

Hirayama’s solitary moments, where he reads or listens to music, highlight the value of solitude in nurturing one’s inner world. Solitude offers a space for introspection and self-discovery, allowing us to connect with our thoughts and emotions without external distractions. This quiet time can be essential for personal growth and maintaining a sense of balance in our lives.

In a world that often emphasizes social interaction and connectivity, finding comfort in solitude can be empowering. It allows us to develop a deeper understanding of ourselves and fosters creativity and innovation. By embracing moments of solitude, we can recharge and gain clarity on our goals and aspirations.

The Power of Small Rituals

Hirayama’s daily rituals, from his meticulous cleaning routines to his evening reading sessions, underscore the power of small, consistent practices in bringing structure and meaning to our lives. These rituals can serve as anchors, providing a sense of continuity and stability amidst the flux of daily life.

Incorporating small rituals into our routines can help us create a sense of order and predictability, which can be particularly comforting in times of uncertainty. These practices don’t have to be grand or elaborate; simple acts like a morning walk, a cup of tea, or a few minutes of meditation can make a significant difference in our overall well-being.

The Intersection of Routine and Creativity

While routine is often associated with repetition and predictability, it can also be a fertile ground for creativity. Hirayama’s life demonstrates how structured routines can create a stable foundation upon which creativity can flourish. His appreciation for music and literature, and his thoughtful engagement with these art forms, suggest that routine and creativity are not mutually exclusive but can complement each other beautifully.

Establishing routines can free up mental space, allowing us to engage more deeply with creative pursuits. When the basic aspects of our daily lives are managed through routine, we have more energy and focus to dedicate to creative activities. This balance between structure and spontaneity can enhance our creative output and overall satisfaction.

The Cultural Context of ‘Perfect Days’

Understanding the cultural context of “Perfect Days” enhances our appreciation of its themes. The film’s Japanese setting, with its emphasis on simplicity, mindfulness, and respect for tradition, provides a rich backdrop for exploring the concept of finding freedom in routine. These cultural elements are woven seamlessly into the narrative, offering a glimpse into how cultural practices and values can shape our perception of daily life.

Japanese culture places a high value on mindfulness and the art of living, as seen in practices like tea ceremonies, calligraphy, and Zen meditation. These traditions emphasize the importance of being present and finding beauty in simplicity. “Perfect Days” reflects these cultural values, presenting a way of life that prioritizes mindfulness and simplicity over materialism and constant activity.

Personal Reflections: Finding Your Own Perfect Days

Reflecting on the themes of “Perfect Days” can inspire us to examine our own lives and routines. What small tasks bring us joy? How can we incorporate mindfulness and simplicity into our daily activities? By asking these questions, we can begin to craft our own “perfect days,” filled with moments of contentment and freedom.

Consider creating a personal routine that aligns with your values and interests. This might involve setting aside time for activities that nourish your soul, like reading, gardening, or spending time in nature. By intentionally designing your daily routine, you can create a life that feels meaningful and fulfilling, even in its simplest moments.

“Perfect Days” reminds us that personal freedom is accessible to everyone, regardless of their circumstances. By finding joy and meaning in our daily routines, we can experience a profound sense of liberation and fulfillment. Freedom is not a distant goal but a present reality waiting to be embraced.

Reflect on your daily routines and identify moments where you feel a sense of freedom. Share your stories with our community and participate in activities that celebrate the beauty of everyday life. Together, we can find and celebrate personal freedom in the mundane.

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Additional Reflections and Community Engagement

As we conclude our exploration of “Perfect Days,” it’s important to consider how we can extend the film’s lessons beyond our personal lives and into our communities. By fostering environments where simplicity, mindfulness, and gratitude are valued, we can collectively enhance our well-being and support one another in our pursuit of freedom and contentment.

Creating Supportive Environments

Encouraging mindfulness and simplicity within our communities can have a ripple effect, promoting a culture of presence and appreciation. This can be achieved through community programs, workshops, and events that focus on mindfulness practices, such as meditation sessions, nature walks, and art therapy.

Collaborative Efforts

Community gardens, local art projects, and shared spaces for creative expression can also play a significant role in fostering a sense of belonging and connection. These initiatives provide opportunities for individuals to come together, share their stories, and engage in meaningful activities that reinforce the values highlighted in “Perfect Days.”

Sustaining the Momentum

To sustain the momentum, it’s essential to keep the conversation going. Regular community meetings, storytelling events, and platforms for sharing personal experiences can help maintain a collective focus on the importance of routine, mindfulness, and simplicity. These ongoing efforts can build a supportive network that nurtures personal growth and collective well-being.

Final Thoughts

In embracing the lessons of “Perfect Days,” we open ourselves to a richer, more fulfilling experience of life. By finding freedom in routine and appreciating the beauty of the everyday, we can cultivate a sense of contentment that transcends our circumstances. Let us take inspiration from Hirayama’s story and embark on our own journeys towards simplicity, mindfulness, and inner freedom.

Engaging with the Film

If you haven’t already, consider watching “Perfect Days” to fully immerse yourself in its themes and messages. Viewing the film can provide a deeper understanding of the concepts discussed and offer a visual and emotional experience that complements the insights shared here.

Encouraging Discussion

Engage in discussions with friends, family, and community members about the film and its themes. Sharing perspectives can enhance our understanding and inspire new ways to incorporate the lessons of “Perfect Days” into our lives. These conversations can also strengthen our connections with others, fostering a sense of shared purpose and mutual support.

Moving Forward

As we move forward, let’s commit to embracing the simplicity and mindfulness that “Perfect Days” celebrates. By doing so, we can create lives filled with moments of peace, joy, and freedom, finding beauty in the routines that shape our days. Through our actions and reflections, we can contribute to a world where personal freedom is not just a distant ideal but a lived reality for all.




Entrepreneur & Product wizard who merges creativity with technology at, enjoys songs & stories. Ex-Journalist & narrator of #FreedomNarratives