Ogimi: Village of Longevity

Long-lived Okinawa Prefecture, the even longer-lived Okinawan village of Ogimi, and we senior citizens of Ogimi enjoy living out long lives in a traditional food culture that seeks nourishment in the blessings of nature.

“Greatest longevity in Japan” declaration

At 80 years old, I am still a child. When I come to see you at 90,
send me away to wait till 100
Let us keep going strong as we get older, and not depend too much on our children in old age.
Come to our village in your old age,
and we will provide the blessings of nature and teach you the secrets of longevity.
We the senior citizens of Ogimi
proudly declare this the longest-lived village in Japan.

April 23rd, 1993 Ogimi Federation of Senior Citizen Clubs

Monument to the “Longest-lived village in Japan”

Longevity secret #1

Culture and traditional arts

Luscious green trees and brilliant rays of sunshine. Clear skies and clean water.
Blessed with an abundance of untouched natural beauty, Ogimi is practically Okinawa’s Garden of Eden.
We take it easy, without rushing things or getting worked up...
This time spent in “paradise,” happy to be alive in such a beautiful environment, may well be the greatest key to longevity.

Longevity secret #1

Longevity secret #2

What are the characteristics of the Ogimi diet?

In Ogimi, compared to the average Japanese diet:
(1) People eat more meats,
(2) the intake of green and yellow vegetables is three times higher,
(3) the intake of legumes, particularly soybeans, is 1.5 times higher, and
(4) the fruit intake is also higher.
Another point worthy of mention is salt intake.
Okinawa is the only prefecture that has made it below the goal of 10 grams per person per day set by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and that figure is 9 grams for Ogimi.

Longevity secret #2

Longevity secret #3

Incredibly active community life

The warm climate of Okinawa makes it possible to enjoy outdoor activities year round. The population of Ogimi is currently about 3,500 people, and 80 of them are long-lifers over 90 years old.
What we especially want to emphasize here is the incredibly strong sense among the senior citizens of this village of the need to stay active for as long as they live. Even after growing old, they keep moving as much as their bodies allow, exercising and doing various kinds of work, whether out in the fields or spinning thread for the village’s traditional banana cloth industry, and also taking part in community-related activities such as village events and volunteer work.
The majority of senior citizens in Ogimi are living either alone or in elderly couple households, but that definitely does not mean that they are living quiet, lonely lives in isolation from society.

The elderly in Ogimi have surprisingly broad and deep interaction with their children and grandchildren living in urban areas as well as with neighborhood friends. Many describe their friends in particular as those they rely on the most and who put them most at ease, and undoubtedly this, along with the villager temperament, helps elderly people adapt to life, while also providing health benefits.

Longevity secret #3

Longevity secret #4

Local activities

Though things may be changing little by little today,
the spirit of “yuimaru” remains deeply-rooted in all aspects of a villager’s life.
“Yuimaru” can mean, in short, a cooperative spirit of mutual assistance in which villagers help each other out by providing each other with their labor,
but this word is used widely to refer not only to agricultural work such as sugarcane harvesting, sugar manufacturing, and rice-planting but also to new home building, gravesite construction, and other forms of volunteer work on public village projects and the like.
Put more simply, it is a “spirit of mutual aid,” and this spirit is still alive throughout the village.

Longevity secret #4

Longevity secret #5

What does health look like for senior citizens in Ogimi?

Gateball is very popular in every community in Ogimi.
When it comes time, old people carrying sticks suddenly appear out of nowhere to converge on the many gateball courts within the village.
Then, until dusk, they act out heated contests on those courts that would put young people to shame.
The many senior citizens in those groups who are far beyond 80 years of age are a feature of this village. There are also plenty of seniors who are crazy about karaoke here.

Longevity secret #5