Monday, September 13, 2010

Old Country

Japan celebrates 20 September as "Respect for the Aged" day - its a national holiday.

This summer there have been numerous reports about "missing" centenarians, and about officials from municipalities and  local governments going around checking on the elderly. The news made headlines for a few days before disappearing into the back pages. This is a growing problem in a rapidly aging nation - 23% of the population is 65 or over; by 2055, the government predicts, half the population will be pensioners.

Japan is also home to some of the most vigorous old folks in the world. It is home to one Mr.Keizo Miura who celebrated his 99th birthday in 2008, by skiing down a glacier in the French Alps. His son, Yuichiro, at 70 became the oldest man to climb Mount Everest. Then there is the physician and writer Shigeaki Hinohara, who continues to be very active at 99...

Here is an interesting article on the topic from yesterday's Japan Times: "Aging Through The Ages" by Michael Hoffman.

Turns out that "respect for the aged" is a fairly recent concept .  Not too long ago, before the Meiji Reforms, it was nothing out of the ordinary for folks to abandon their aged parents on mountain-tops - there is still a hill in Nagano called "Oba-sute" (literally 'throw-granny')! This was also the theme of a 1983 movie - The Ballard of Narayama.



"Aging Through The Ages" - Michael Hoffman, Japan Times (12 Sep. 2010) -

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