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Ikigai: The key to a long, fulfilling life

In Japan, people have the highest life expectancy in the world. Okinawa, a Japanese island, takes the crown: Nowhere else do so many centenarians live. The people there not only live a particularly long life, but also a particularly happy one. But why is that? Francesc Miralles and Héctor Garcia investigated this question in their book "Ikigai - Healthy and happy centenarians" . In our blog post, you can find out what secrets the authors were able to elicit from the centenarians of Okinawa.

Table of contents:

  1. Growing old healthily and happily
  2. How do the centenarians of Okinawa eat and drink?
  3. Ikigai dietary principle Hara hachi bu
  4. More than sushi and rice: Japanese foods you should try

Grow old healthily and happily

If you look into the Japanese philosophy of life, you will inevitably come across one word: Ikigai. The people of Okinawa refer to ikigai as what is worth getting up for in the morning. According to the Japanese, everyone has something that gives their life meaning and motivates them to stay active into old age.

"Only if you stay active will you wish to live a hundred years."
(Japanese proverb)

How do the centenarians of Okinawa eat and drink?

The people of Okinawa are not only older and happier, but also healthier than the rest of the world's population. This is due to both the Ikigai philosophy and the nutrition. Vegetables, fruit, tofu, rice and soba noodles are among the most commonly consumed foods. Processed foods, meat, sugar and salt, on the other hand, are only eaten in small quantities.

Ikigai nutritional principle hara hachi bu

In Okinawa, significantly fewer calories are consumed per day than in the rest of Japan. The reason for this is the principle of hara hachi bu. It states that the stomach should only be filled to 80%. Try it out and stop eating before you are completely full. This is easy to do, for example, by skipping dessert or eating smaller portions. Eating from small plates can also help.

More than just sushi and rice: Japanese foods you should try

Soba noodles

Noodles are also popular in Japan. Soba noodles are particularly popular. Unlike our noodles, these are made from buckwheat flour. They are therefore also suitable for people with gluten intolerance.


Tofu also originated in China, but has been a staple food in Japan since the 8th century. It is made from soybeans, which are rich in protein, fibre and minerals . This is why the high consumption of soya is often associated with the increased life expectancy of the Japanese.

Green tea

The favourite drink of Okinawan centenarians is Sanpincha, a blend of green tea and jasmine tea. Green tea is also known here for its antioxidant properties. For jasmine tea, green tea is flavoured with jasmine flowers. This is said to have a relaxing and calming effect.