The southern Japanese island of Okinawa is known as the “land of the immortals” thanks to the unusually high number of centenarians. In fact, Okinawan women live longer than any other women in the world. Dr. Karan Raj, a doctor in the UK with a following of 4.8 million on TikTok, recently took to the platform to explain why.
THE LAND OF IMMORTALS
Okinawa is one of the famous Blue Zones, and the information comes from Dan Buettner’s 2008 book Blue Zones: Lessons For Living Longer From The People Who’ve Lived The Longest. It’s the same book that explains why people on the tiny Greek island of Ikaria live so long. And while exercise and a diet high in vegetables and grains and low in meat is common among the five Blue Zones, Okinawa has two social principles that help as well: moai and ikigai.
Moai is a group of five lifelong friends that people are traditionally put into by their parents when they’re born, according to the New York Times. In addition to helping out when they need each other with health or monetary problems, the groups have a strong social and emotional connection for life.
Ikigai is one of those wonderful words that lack a direct English translation. “Iki” means life and “gai” means worth, according to the BBC. Essentially, it means happiness in living and is often described as the reason why you get up in the morning. This is something that’s in line with your values and likes and makes you feel good about doing it, whether that’s playing guitar or cooking or anything that you can do, really (and doing something is important, not just sitting around dreaming about what makes you happy).
Another thing that Raj hadn’t mentioned but is listed as a reason for longevity in Okinawa in the Blue Zone book? Growing a garden and being able to enjoy what’s going on in the moment rather than dwelling on the past. So grab some lifelong friends and get those vegetables growing.