Japan has one of the longest life expectancies in the world, ranked up with those yoghurt-eating Bulgarians and clean-living Scandinavians (socialism is good for your health). It can’t be the laid-back lifestyle, except maybe in Okinawa which does indeed come at the top in Japan, so a lot of people put it down to the healthy Japanese diet, which is low in animal fat, high in fish, fibre, grains, vegetables… all that stuff that’s supposed to be good for you. The main thing wrong with traditional Japanese food is that it’s a bit salty, causing a lot of stomach cancer, especially in the north where a lot of pickles get them through the cold winter. Or, rather, got them through. Now there’s a Macdonalds on every street corner (ugh! I’ll tell you how much I hate that stuff some other time), young Japanese are raised on all kinds of prepackaged junk and no-one expects the next generation to live to 100 like the current lot.
Even so, you don’t yet see the kind of obesity problem here that’s hit the US and northern Europe in the last 20 years or so, and there are now some 40,000 centenarians here. Of course, carrying on an active lifestyle into old age has its limits and a lot of these old folk tend to live quietly, not going out so much… One such in Tokyo last week reached 110 I think it was, and some people from the local ward office went round to offer their congratulations, and a small present. Apart from his old age pension, this old guy had also got a little something on turning 100 but at that time his family said he didn’t want to talk to anyone, so the officials had just left it with them. This time however they were let in to Granddad’s room and there he was, but obviously not in a talkative mood.
He’d been dead for thirty years.