Nagano: A New Japanese Blue Zone

I am drying plums to make Umeboshi. Actually, I am not making them from scratch. I just got them from someone else and continued drying them. These Umeboshi were made with only 6% salt. much lower than the usual 20%. Well, recently, many people like to reduce their salt intake since high salt intake is one of the biggest causes of diseases like cancer.  Yes, in Japan, sugar isn’t a big problem, but salt is since we use a lot of salt in our cooking.

Reducing salt intake is one of the reasons why Nagano Prefecture has risen to the top in the national longevity rankings in the last decades. Many people think of Okinawa to be the longest-lived prefecture, but it was back in the 1980s when Okinawa was high in the same rankings. Recently, prefectures like Nagano and Shiga have stayed among the top three, and especially Nagano has been number 1 several times.

So, if you ask people in Japan about the longest-lived prefecture, most people say it is Nagano, not Okinawa.

Nagano is located in the middle of Honshu, the main island of Japan, and it is near Tokyo. For people in Tokyo, Nagano is probably the most popular vacation destination since there are many mountains and ski resorts. It is the most mountainous region in Japan with the Northern Alps, the Central Alps, and the Southern Alps.

In summer, many people go mountain climbing in Nagano, and in winter, people go skiing.

Therefore, tourism is the biggest industry, and farming and timber are big, too. Recently, Nagano is one of the hottest areas of organic farming. There are many organic farmers and some schools have introduced organic school lunches. Several big organic farming conferences have been held in Nagano.

Back in the 70s, many hippies moved to Nagano from Tokyo and led a self-sufficient lifestyle. Today, Nagano is one of the most popular prefectures to move to among Shizenha people. It is to do with the easy access from Tokyo, too, but this mountainous region offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy all kinds of outdoor sports, and the organic friendly atmosphere is perfect for Shizenha.

Therefore, on top of its present long-living lifestyle, which I will share with you in the next post, Nagano will continue to be the land of longevity with Shizenha extending the average lifespan.


The Ikigai Diet: The Secret Japanese Diet to Health and Longevity

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