The reason why Okinawa is named the 'immortal holy land' of Japan

 About 400 miles southwest of Japan is the island of Okinawa, where two-thirds of the population are living independently at the age of 97. What is the reason for the longevity of the people of this island?

or every 100,000 people on the island of Okinawa there will be 68 people living one hundred years old. That is why this place is known as the immortal mecca of Japan. So every visitor to visit this archipelago, in addition to exploring the beautiful nature, is also very curious about the reason why so many people live so long. Is it the ambience, the lifestyle, the cuisine, or is there another reason?

Okinawa Island - home to the largest concentration of people living over 100 years old in Japan

Where is Okinawa Island?

Located 400 miles southwest of the mainland of Japan is the geographical location of the island of Okinawa . Okinawa in Japanese means "rope in the middle of the sea" because the Okinawa Islands lie in the middle of the ocean, with the Pacific Ocean in the east and the East China Sea in the west. 

Okinawa Island not only has a beautiful nature but is also home to many of the oldest people in Japan. 

On the Okinawa map, there  are about 160 large and small islands (49 inhabited islands) and this place is especially famous for its emerald green sea water, rich white sand and extremely rich cuisine. The climate in Okinawa is warm year round, so it attracts many tourists throughout the year. 

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The Okinawa Islands are classified into four areas surrounding the main island: Kerama Island, Kume Island, Miyako Islands and the Yaeyama Islands. Each region has its own unique traditions and culture. 

For many years, Okinawa Island has been known as the "immortal mecca" of Japan because it concentrates many people living over 100 years old. Elderly people on the island of Okinawa also rarely develop cardiovascular disease, memory impairment or cancer. When traveling to Japan , visitors will be surprised by their bone structure stronger than those of the same generation in the world.

The secret of long life of the people of Okinawa

If you ask any Okinawan resident in Japan about the secret of longevity, you will get an answer that includes two words: ikigai (purpose of life) and moai ("tribe"). 

Ikigai is most easily seen as the reason for life, what motivates the people of Okinawa to wake up and get out of bed every morning. In Okinawa Island in particular and Japan in general, the state of "retirement" has almost disappeared because the purpose of life of the elderly in the country of the rising sun is to live a productive life, to work beneficially for society to not become a burden on children and society. And the more mature that person's ikigai develops. 

Moai is a term used to refer to groups of people who share similar interests and care for each other. Your moai is your "tribe". For example, in Okinawa and all over Japan , you will not see people participating in sports such as cycling, soccer, windsurfing ... but most of them like to take care of gardens, ...

Longevity diet of the people of Okinawa

On the island of Okinawa there is a mantra that is: hara hachi bu, which means "Stop eating if you feel 80% full". You may still feel a bit hungry when you stop following the hara hachi bu philosophy, but the science is very reasonable. 

Usually, it takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to send a signal to the brain that it is full. In that short amount of time, people will eat and digest the remaining few hundred calories. So, if you stop and wait, you'll find yourself full even with very little food. 

Thanks to a reasonable diet, people on the island of Okinawa live the longest in Japan. 

Scientific studies have all shown that eating less will live a long time, but of course it depends on what foods you eat. Discover what one of the Okinawan islanders' diets consist of, as reported by Craig Willcox in his book "Okinawa Program". 

A typical meal of the people of Okinawa comes in a six-compartment bento box. As a result, you will enjoy more dishes but the amount of food decreases. A bento box can contain: rice, sweet potatoes, melon, a small slice of fish, bean sprouts, and a portion of fruit. In addition, you will have a bowl of miso soup and green tea for dessert.

Most Okinawans eat 7 different fruits and vegetables and 18 different dishes each day, Willcox said. There are 200 foods and spices in all that regularly appear on their menus. As a result, Okina consumes only an average of 1,900 calories per day, while the number in the US is 2,500 calories. 


The unique dishes of Okinawa

When traveling to Okinawa Island , you should once taste the following dishes to spread the longevity of the people of Okinawa. 

The island's traditional dishes must include: Okinawa Soba noodles, Jimami Tofu (peanut tofu cake), Taco rice, Goya Champuru (pan-fried bitter melon), Zenzai (red bean tea), Rafute (bacon stew) and Nakami Jiru (beef tripe soup). 

Pan-fried bitter melon - Goya Champuru is a typical summer dish on the island of Okinawa. Although bitter taste is difficult to eat, but bitter melon does not have many beneficial nutrients for the body. Perhaps that is why Goya has become one of the favorite dishes of the people of Okinawa.  

Goya Champuru is a typical summer dish on the island of Okinawa.

Nakami Jiru, also known as beef tripe soup, is cooked quite sophisticatedly and is only used on special occasions such as Chinese New Year or other important holidays. Beef heart must be soaked in salt and flour several times to remove the fishy smell. Then it will be cooked in a large pot of water with skipjack tuna broth, ginger, Shiitake mushrooms and sweet potato. 

In the history of Okinawa , the Rafute, stewed bacon was only served to royalty, but to this day it also appears only on special occasions, not in everyday meals. This dish is stewed for a long time with Awamori (a wine on the island of Okinawa), soy sauce, brown sugar and skipjack tuna broth, so when you eat it, you will feel the meat melt on the tongue. 

Okinawa Island is one of the largest islands in Japan that contains many interesting things in its beautiful natural and cultural identity. If you do not have a destination for your next journey, you should plan to travel to Okinawa  .  

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