BBC – Travel – Okinawa: The island of almost-eternal youth

On the Japanese island of Okinawa, dubbed the “longest-lived island,” the locals refuse to die. Women now live longer than women anywhere in the world and citizens suffer from heart disease, cancer and dementia. The strong life of the people of Okinawa and their interest in ikigai, the unique purpose of life, often keep them alive and healthy for over 100 years.

As one of the “Higher Territories” in the world, Okinawa is unique in that it is home to a number of residents. Many participate in one or more hours, a group of friends and acquaintances who meet regularly, agree on a joint discussion and make monthly donations to help members in need or to support government services.

According to Ikigai’s book: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles, Okinawans eat vegetarian and antioxidant foods, eat one-third of Japan’s high sugar content and eat their food in small plates. They use their bodies vigorously to exercise and only eat until they are 80% full, which is consistent with the old wisdom of advising on overeating. The Okinawa village of Kitanakagusuku is hosting the annual celebration of women aged 80 and over.

The secret to the happiness and well-being of the Okinawan people is their ikigai, the foundation of a true human culture that must not be based on lofty ideals, material or power-driven. Finding and following your ikigai every day, the writers write, will keep you busy doing things that make your life meaningful. Also, he says, it is important to reconnect with nature, surround yourself with people who love you and be active.

The secret to longevity, it seems, begins when our curiosity, interest and that of our friends meet.

(Video by Shiho Fukada & Keith Bedford, by Yasmin El-Beih)

The video is part of the BBC’s Ultimate World Ultimate playlist.

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