We’re not talking about Roman soldiers here, although the capital of Italy is imploring OutThere travellers to return to the ancient city … but we made a call out all the way to Okinawa – the remote, archipelago of over 160 islands, Japan – for some wellness tips from those who can prove their techniques actually work.
To start, it’s beautiful – a place where the sea is crystal clear, the public transport is powered by water buffalo and the grains of sand on the beach are star-shaped. It’s a quirky paradise, in a way that can only be Japanese, so perfectly surreal that it’s like something out of a Studio Ghibli animation. The storybook moments continue – islanders singing folk tales whilst plucking banjo-like instruments, an old lady selling shaved ice, flavoured in the local citrus fruit called shikuwasa, meals of bitter, goya-melon noodles served in large oyster shells, white sand streets, and terracotta statues of shisas (half lion, half dog) adorning rooftops, put in place to scare away the evil spirits.
As one of the world’s designated ‘blue zones’ for longevity and home to the biggest concentration of 100-year-olds on our planet, this southernmost part of Japan is infamous for its healthy lifestyle, sub-tropical sunshine and nutritious gastronomy, where better for us to #KeepYourMindTravelling and seek inspiration on how to live a healthy lifestyle. We speak to some ‘Obaasan’ and ‘Ojisaan’ – local grandmothers and grandads on their top tips to living to a ripe old age.
“Yuimaru” is everything
“Icharibachodee” – in the Okinawan dialect translates loosely to a sense of community – “once we meet, we are brothers for life” and the ties and relationships between family and friends. By getting out there and supporting the local community, the spirit is uplifted, because you know someone has always got your back. They call this “Yuimaru.”
Work on “Uchinaa” time
It’s the way on many island communities, but Okinawa has quite possibly the most relaxed sense of time in the world, which is in stark contrast to that of the stringent punctuality of mainland Japan. Locals have a forgiving attitude towards running late – and considering the wonderful climate and beautiful surrounding – taking your time over everything you do is an easy habit to adopt. Plus it means far less stress.
Local tropical vegetables – “nuchigusui” – is considered food for the soul. Translated, the world means ‘medicine for life.’ In fact, all local cuisine is considered “kusuimun” – which also means medicine. The point being, a balanced, organic diet, with plenty of nutrition, dominates local cuisine.
Be at one with nature…
“When you live in a place so beautiful, there’s no hurry to get to heaven as you’re already in it,” an octogenarian, shaved-ice merchant on the island of Taketomi told us. Living in harmony with your surroundings is the foundation of life on the islands, to see true beauty in something that is natural and untampered with.
For further inspiration on how a visit to Okinawa can inspire longevity, visit: www.visitokinawa.jp
Photography by Romeo A / Unsplash