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Long life in Japan – here’s the secret

Ken Tanaka was born in 1903, the same year brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright completed the first-ever controlled flight in history with a motorized vehicle.

The fact that the world’s oldest man lives in Japan is no coincidence. last fall It has been estimated that more than 86,000 people in Japan are 100 years of age or older.

In the search for the secrets behind a long, healthy life, experts have long been interested in Japan in particular and perhaps particularly in the Okinawa archipelago in southern Japan.

Went out of curiosity I To Ojime Village in Okinawa A few years ago. The population of the village was then 158 residents over 90 years old. In a small wooden house by the sea, a 97-year-old woman stood right in front of me–until she bent forward with her legs straight and her palms resting on the floor.

She said that since she was 22, she’s been out in the yard and doing gymnastics every morning. She had her own crops of bitter melon, cucumber, and carrot, which she harvested and ate with a crunchy salad and sauce made with mayonnaise. Sweet potatoes and tofu are two other foods that have been praised in the village for their effect on women’s longevity.

Anyway, the 97-year-old had many ideas about the best way to stay fit.

One had to go quickly.

bitter melon;

Photo: Torbjörn Petersson

When the village made excursions and many young people took part in the excursion, she made sure to always be in the lead.

“Everyone is complaining that I walk too fast but I can’t walk slowly,” she said.

Another way of thinking is to eat solid foods that resist teeth. She did not like cakes and sweets and could not understand why those who come to visit always bring a lot of soft food as a gift. She gave him away.

She said she was missing Fresh fish from the past, when there were fishermen in the village. When the boats docked full of catch, I ran ashore.

– We cut the small fish into thin slices and dipped it directly into the sea in salt water – and ate it, as I remembered.

I met another 88-year-old woman who came rushing in her daily walk as if it was a walking competition. I also ate bitter melon and vegetables. She inherited the diet from her mother, who lived to be approximately 108 years old. At that age, the daughter said, she thought about hitting.

A third woman, 93 years old, prefers to eat pork with a lot of fat, but in small portions and drinks a liter of milk per day.

Most of the people in the village lived with the slogan: “hara hachi bu” – eat until the stomach is 80% full.

the real secret, They meant, otherwise it was not food but an active life in old age and social context. At Ojime, croquet was played in at least three venues each afternoon. They said that daily contact and the realization that there is always someone to share the day with, makes us grow old.

For the 97-year-old, her palms were on the floor, the element of competition was also important. Others said she requires every day the younger players on the croquet court to follow the rules.

– She said I hope they learn the rules before I disappear.

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