Happy birthday to the oldest person in the world, Misao Okawa, who turned 116 years old yesterday. Ms. Okawa was born in Osaka back in 1898, and has lived an amazing life, witnessing the Russo-Japan War of 1905, the horrors of World War II, and the rebuilding of Japan as an economic power. The Japanese are famous for their longevity, with women living 86 years and men 79 years on average. The reasons for this are many, including a healthier diet with lots of fish and green tea, lower intake of sugar, and a solid healthcare system. But another important reason is the social factor. My wife’s parents are both in their mid-70s, and most of their friends are people they’ve known all their lives, in many cases going back to the first day of elementary school. These friends provide a social network and support each other when someone becomes ill or goes through life trials…and when the time comes, everyone attends each other’s funerals. As for me, an American from California who’s lived in a lot of different placs, the idea of maintaining lifelong friendships like that would be quite unthinkable, and I’m envious of my wife’s parents for what they’ve got.
The secret to a long and happy life, as seen from Japan.