through my eyes

only if I could…

I’m back. Two weeks in Japan of which most of that time was in Okinawa. In my last post I talked about how I would be heading to Okinawa and hopefully getting some insight into why they are known to be the longest living people. It was an amazing trip in which I was able to really get to know a few Okinawans, more than my last two trips. I’ll try my best to explain why I think they are the longest living people. Before I do that I want to say something: if you ever get a chance to go to Okinawa, do not pass it up! You will never visit a place that has the kindest, giving people than Okinawa. This is the truth! I have traveled to may places throughout my life and I have never met people more generous, humble, and happy than Okinawans.

I’m going to get to the heart of it. I believe the reason why Okinawans are the longest living people is because of their outlook on life. They enjoy life. They work hard and they play hard. Their view on various things are different than western civilizations view, or even mainland Japan’s views. Do not confuse Okinawa with mainland Japan. They are totally different. Although Okinawa is a part of Japan, this was not so until the late 1800’s. A lot of Okinawa’s culture comes from China. This is not surprising since Okinawa is an island situated between Japan and China. Before Okinawa was part of Japan, and was part of the Ryuku Kingdom, the king was appointed from China.

But I digress. Here are some things I noted while on my trip. Okinawan’s are paid the lowest wages in all of Japan. Okinawan’s look at alcohol differently than we do. The primary beer they drink in Okinawa is Orion. We visited the brewery, or I should say Orion Happy Park (that’s what they call it). There is even an Orion beer song. The izakya’s (pubs) do not have a closing time. It’s up to the owner when the close for the night. It is not uncommon to go to an izakya and see someone with their head down having a nap, resting before getting back to having a good time. Unlike here in Canada, or the US, it’s not frowned upon and looked at as someone who has lost control and is then kicked out of the bar. On all my visits to Okinawa, to the izakya’s, the karaoke joints, I’ve never seen confrontations or obnoxious behavior. I’ve seen happy people, singing, dancing, yes, drunkenness, but it’s all good.

At the end of this trip, I had lunch with the grand master of our karate association who of course Is Okinawan. He gave a talk where he said Okinawan’s are long living people because of low stress. If you look at what stress does to us; lack of sleep, excessive consumption of simple carbs, the constant release of the hormone cortisol, high blood pressure, it kind of makes sense. Is the impact of stress not realized in western civilization, or outside of Okinawa?

All this of course is my observation. You reading this does not replace you seeing it first hand. You will not fully understand what I have written until you make the visit to Okinawa, and see for yourself how happy and how welcoming the Okinawan’s are. Until you are in an izakya singing karaoke with people you don’t even know you will not understand. Until you drink Awamori you won’t understand.

I think we have a lot to learn from Okinawa. I think the rest of the world could learn a lot from them.

A final note. Yes, stress has a huge impact on our health. Removing stress where we can is really beneficial. But do not discount the benefits of exercise and a healthy diet.

Yours in health,

Darryl