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We traveled to the town of Ogimi and tracked down its most famous inhabitant: Ushi Okushima. Over the past five years this 104-year-old woman has been filmed by every major news organization in the world, including the Discovery Channel, CNN, and the BBC. She's like the Dalai Lama of longevity. ..When we met Ushi, she sat queen-like and serene on a chair in front of a family altar for her ancestors. Wrapped in a blue kimono, she motioned for the team to sit down. Like kindergartners around their teacher, we sat cross-legged on the floor at her feet. And she greeted us by raising her arms above her head, as if to show off her biceps, and shouted, "Genki! Genki! Genki!" or "Vigor! Vigor! Vigor!" So many people fear getting old. If they could see this woman, they'd look forward to it. ..Ushi still wakes at 6 a.m., makes a breakfast of vegetable miso soup, and goes out for a stroll. Then every afternoon she eats lunch with her daughter, and her grand children and friends come over to visit. In the evenings she eats a dinner of mostly vegetables, drinks a cup of mugwort sake, and goes bed. What's her longevity secret? "Work hard, drink mugwort sake before bed, and get a good night's sleep," Ushi said. ..Actually, asking an old person how she got to be so old is like asking a tall person how she got so tall. They don't really know. But there her life does offer a few clues. For example, Ushi's day is full of social interaction. A Harvard study showed that the seniors with the most social ties were three times less likely to die during the study period than those who had the least social connections. So make time for your family and friends, and you just might add a few years to your life....------------------------------..Ushi Okishima is arguably the most famous centenarian in Okinawa and probably in the world. I met Ushi five years ago while doing an educational project on longevity. My co-leader at the time was a young educational manager by the name of Sayoko Ogata. .
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© 2005 Gianluca Colla
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Okinawa, the island of centenarians
We traveled to the town of Ogimi and tracked down its most famous inhabitant: Ushi Okushima. Over the past five years this 104-year-old woman has been filmed by every major news organization in the world, including the Discovery Channel, CNN, and the BBC. She's like the Dalai Lama of longevity. ..When we met Ushi, she sat queen-like and serene on a chair in front of a family altar for her ancestors. Wrapped in a blue kimono, she motioned for the team to sit down. Like kindergartners around their teacher, we sat cross-legged on the floor at her feet. And she greeted us by raising her arms above her head, as if to show off her biceps, and shouted, "Genki! Genki! Genki!" or "Vigor! Vigor! Vigor!" So many people fear getting old. If they could see this woman, they'd look forward to it. ..Ushi still wakes at 6 a.m., makes a breakfast of vegetable miso soup, and goes out for a stroll. Then every afternoon she eats lunch with her daughter, and her grand children and friends come over to visit. In the evenings she eats a dinner of mostly vegetables, drinks a cup of mugwort sake, and goes bed. What's her longevity secret? "Work hard, drink mugwort sake before bed, and get a good night's sleep," Ushi said. ..Actually, asking an old person how she got to be so old is like asking a tall person how she got so tall. They don't really know. But there her life does offer a few clues. For example, Ushi's day is full of social interaction. A Harvard study showed that the seniors with the most social ties were three times less likely to die during the study period than those who had the least social connections. So make time for your family and friends, and you just might add a few years to your life....------------------------------..Ushi Okishima is arguably the most famous centenarian in Okinawa and probably in the world. I met Ushi five years ago while doing an educational project on longevity. My co-leader at the time was a young educational manager by the name of Sayoko Ogata. .