What do the world’s longest-living people eat and drink?

We travelled to Ogimi, a village in the north of the island of Okinawa. Set within lush green hills fed by crystalline waters, its population of three thousand people boasts the highest life expectancy in the world, earning it the moniker the ‘Village of Longevity’.

We were there to research the reasons for this, and so one of the first things we asked the elders was about their diet. The question was met with a shrug: “There is no secret to our diet, I just enjoy what’s on my plate”. A week spent in their company confirmed this. We would see a 90-year-old eating very fatty pork and later that afternoon enjoying a piece of cake with a cup of green tea. Their secret, however, appears to lie in their portion sizes and in variety. Their plate always comprises something from the sea and something from the earth. A study of Okinawa’s centenarians also showed that they ate 206 different foods, including spices, on a regular basis, and an average of eighteen different foods each day, a striking contrast to the nutritional poverty of our fast-​food culture. …

Magical coincidences are about attention to moments, not luck

Illustration: Eline van Dam

Co-authored with Francesc Miralles

Deep within the narrow streets of Gion, in the heart of Kyoto, sits a rustic chashitsu, or tea house. That old neighborhood is home to the last remaining geishas and untold mysteries of a fading way of life; in the spring, its cobblestone roads are carpeted in fallen sakura petals. It is in that tearoom that particularly observant visitors might notice a wooden plaque hung from a brown pillar. It bears the inscription: 一期一会

Pronounced ichigo ichie, its meaning is something like this: What we are experiencing right now will never happen again.

Hace cinco años Francesc y yo viajamos a Ogimi, la aldea con más longevidad del mundo. Aquella vez fuimos los dos solos, cargando con cámara y micrófonos, con muchas ideas y sueños en mente. Después de entrevistar a más de un centenar de ancianos escribimos el libro Ikigai.

Hace unos días volvimos a Ogimi, esta vez con todo un equipo de rodaje de National Geographic. Reconectamos con viejos conocidos del lugar. …


Héctor García

Author: IKIGAI, ICHIGO ICHIE, A GEEK IN JAPAN. www.hectorgarcia.org

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