Youthfulness Contest: Shiga’s 61 Year Old vs. Nagano’s 61 Year Old

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Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of attending my junior high school class reunion in the picturesque city of Omachi, nestled in the heart of Nagano Prefecture. This gathering was particularly special as it marked our Kanreki celebration, a cherished tradition as we crossed the threshold into our 60th year of life. Remarkably, this celebration was postponed by a year due to the pandemic, making half of us proud 61-year-olds.

For this significant occasion, we adorned ourselves in vibrant red outfits, symbolizing this momentous milestone. It was my first time wearing the proper Kanreki celebration attire; on my actual 60th birthday, I had simply donned a red cap.


Surrounded by my fellow attendees, all of whom were Nagano locals, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. Nagano Prefecture and Shiga Prefecture, my home, consistently occupy the top two spots in the national average life expectancy ranking, signifying that we enjoy some of the longest lifespans in Japan.


Thus, the question lingered: who among us would appear the youngest after a decade apart?

Before reuniting, I yearned to partake in some highland hiking or invigorating jogging. After all, Nagano’s terrain is famously mountainous, with Omachi City situated at a lofty 600 meters above sea level.


I initially harbored ambitions of tackling a demanding trail running course designed for Rui Ueda, the world trail running champion hailing from Omachi City. This course boasted a formidable 2.25 km length, featuring a punishing 390-meter elevation gain. While the idea was incredibly tempting, I quickly acknowledged its impracticality. Trail running wasn’t something I had ventured into, especially not in the competitive context of a race. Nevertheless, the opportunity to tread the same path as the world champion beckoned irresistibly.


Yet, after a mere 40 seconds of uphill running, reality set in. Breathless and fatigued, I knew the summit was beyond my grasp. Picturing another grueling 2 km ascent, I recognized the futility of pushing further. With only an hour and a half remaining before the festivities, I didn’t wish to expend my energy on an unfinished challenge. So, I opted for a more manageable flat jogging route, still mindful of the elevation at 600 meters above sea level.

A fundamental aspect of longevity lies in acknowledging one’s limits and refraining from pushing beyond the brink of injury. While exercise is undoubtedly a boon to health, it carries inherent risks, necessitating a prudent approach that heeds the body’s signals.

Intriguingly, this trait of not overly competing and gracefully bowing out when needed might well contribute to our Japanese longevity. It’s an embodiment of listening to one’s body and understanding the value of restraint.

At the celebratory gathering, I couldn’t help but notice the youthful appearances of many of my old classmates. Being Nagano natives, some of them remain actively engaged in physically demanding work such as rice and vegetable cultivation. However, if I may humbly say so, I believe I emerged victorious in the “youthfulness” contest. As I listened to the health challenges others had faced, it became apparent that my medical record was, well, rather impeccable.

But then again, I suppose I ought to have an edge as an Ikigai Bio-Hacker.

As I look ahead to future visits, I find myself yearning to tackle that challenging trail running course. Naturally, I’ll need to put in some training back in Shiga first, perhaps even participating in a conventional marathon race.

In any case, my time in Nagano was nothing short of delightful, and I invite you to explore today’s video. It is about exercises for people over 60. What exercises are good to do when you eat natto?



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