The Okinawa archipelago in Japan is breaking records in terms of long life. With a subtropical climate, it is made of 160 islands bordered by the Pacific Ocean. In the latest episode of Euronews, we meet its welcoming population who show us why it’s a great place to live (for a very long time).
The islands have the largest number of centenarians in the world, that’s 76 centenarians per 100,000 inhabitants to be exact, three times more than anywhere else. In the latest episode of Euronews’ Life visited the island s to find out the secret to a long life.
Nutrition at Emiko’s restaurant
To understand the secrets to their long lives, Life host Laurence Alexandrowicz visited a restaurant run by chef Emiko who worked as a dietician before becoming a cook. She lives in Ogimi – a village of 3000 inhabitants known to host a record number of centenarians. By observing the recipes of her elders, she created the longevity menu based simply on seasonal vegetables.
"What we grow in the vegetable garden, we cook and the customers taste it right away. We have a way of life where the vegetable garden and the kitchen are closely linked and as a nutritionist, I feel that the food is very fresh."
Their average age is here 91 years old. And Ogimi's older population are still working as dancers, tofu producers, and association presidents. That's evident from talking to Kikue, Chiyo and Yukiko who have an inexhaustible appetite for life.
"I’m not trying to live as long as possible, it happens naturally, because we all gather, laugh and cry together, and that's what's good, that's what we say. We sing and dance together"
"It's really the way of life in Okinawa. I think the secret of longevity is not to worry and move on."
When life gives you (Shikuwasa) lemons…
The other secret on the islands is a small lemon called the Shikuwasa, of which the village of Ogimi is the largest producer. Okinawans love Shikuwasa's bitter juice, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
Even at 103 years old, Tataki Shinpuku is still monitoring the harvest of the Chikwansa field that he bought in retirement, the fruit of his life:
"Whether the weather is good or bad, we eat Shikuwasa. I, also, at many mandarins and my friends too and that is our little pleasure. "
It seems to the Islanders: a natural diet, an active life after retirement and a unique joie de vivre are the secret to a long life.