How to live to 100, ask the Japanese

Why do men die before women?  Because they want to.

That old joke always make me chuckle.  There’s something funny about the idea of men being tired of life and the implication that women are partly responsible for their fatigue.

This can only be good, I thought, when I read that Japan’s centenarian population has topped 80,000 for the first time.  Only trouble is nearly nine out of ten of them (88%) are women.

Still, it’s got to be great news for humanity especially in this time of a global pandemic which particularly afflicts older people.

The rate of centenarians in Japan has been on an upward trajectory for decades, with a new record set every year since 1971 when there were just 339 people aged 100 or over.

The new figures also echo a wider global trend, with the United Nations announcing earlier this year that the number of centenarians around the world hit 573,000, a figure predicted to rise to 3.7 million by 2050.

While the highest number of centenarians can be found in the United States, Japan has long been home to the world’s highest rate of centenarians, with a record six people aged over 100 among every 10,000 residents.

Life expectancy in Japan also remains one of the highest in the world, with the average woman loving to 88, and the average man until 81. 

The reasons behind Japan’s longevity has long been the subject of scientific research, with many experts attributing it to a myriad of factors, ranging from healthy diets rich in rice and vegetables to community involvement.

Some research also cites the Japanese government’s investment in public health as early as the 1950s, including universal health insurance, as a foundation for a society that is hygiene-conscious and inclined to healthy living.

Japan’s oldest woman is Kana Tanaka, aged 117, who lives in a nursing home in Fukoka, southwestern Japan.   She attributes her longevity to a love of board games, solving arithmetic problems, sweet bean buns and milky coffee.

Japanese centenarians traditionally receive a gift of a commemorative silver sake cup from the government and a letter from the prime minister on Respect for the Aged Day which is next week and a national holiday.

However the soaring centenarian rates has forced officials to replace the sterling silver cup with a cheaper silver-plated version to reduce expenses four years ago.

Would I want to live to 100 I ask myself, yes I guess I would if I was happy and in good health.  I view the fact I’m not 100% sure about wanting to get to a 100 is a good thing, shows a positive attitude to inevitable mortality!

I do, though, want to find out more about what makes us live longer and whether it’s worth what I assume is the misery of a killjoy existence of boring food and non-stop exercise.

So I’m going to make myself a decaf latte, do a sudoku – which is Japanese – start a game of chess while at the same time seeing if I can find out how I can live to a hundred if I want to.

Published by brianjonesdiary

Dad, husband, brother and son. Interested in travel, politics, sport, health and much more. Semi-retired and aiming to making the most of life as I approach my sixth decade.

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