“Regimen to Stay Fit & Active for Life”
Learn from the healthy, long lives enjoyed by these radiant women
The Japanese phrase youjou refers to the important daily regimen one follows in slowing down aging and helping the body avoid illness. This is a necessary endeavor for all of us living in this age of century-long life expectancies and seeking to remain fit and active for our entire lives. We introduce the day-to-day lives of two role models who, at the age of 90, remain youthful both in mind and health and actively forge ahead with a sense of purpose in their chosen paths.
Then, Tsuyoshi Ito, an expert in traditional Chinese medicine, tells us about a sustainable and easy regimen which centers around the improvement of blood flow.
Ms. Matsuda Taeko, Chair, Foundation of the Global Life Learning Center
“My body shape hasn’t changed from way back.”
She is proud to be able to wear clothes from 30 years ago.
Setsuko Ichimaru, Japanese painter
“Once I’ve put my mind to it, I am determined to do whatever I’ve decided to do. My Chinese zodiac sign is the Dragon, so I’m very competitive.”
Photo / Naruyasu Nabeshima (p211-p215), Fumito Shibasaki〈Donna〉(p216-p220), Miyabi Tanaka (Ms. Ichimaru)
Hair & Makeup / Tomihisa Koide (Ms. Matsuda & Ms. Ichimaru)
Styling / Naomi Takahashi
Illustration / Shizuka Ishizaka
Interview & Text / Sumi Asahara
90 Years Old
What it means to be “fit & active throughout your life”.
Ms. Taeko Matsuda
Chair, Foundation of the Global Life Learning Center
“When you decide to start something, your age is irrelevant. My source of energy is my passion for learning and contributing to society.”
“Don’t let your age be an excuse. What you need is a goal and ambition.”
“The secret of being active for life? I don’t like it when people talk about it like that”, she replied in a firm tone. “If you don’t have a goal and ambition, it’s meaningless to know the ‘secret’. People seem to be baffled at the concept of an ‘active life at the age of 90’, but for me it’s a given.”
Ms. Matsuda is indeed leading her own life just as she says. Not wanting to be called “elderly” after she turned 65, she imposed a task on herself to try out what she hated the most.
“When I thought about it, it was studying. From that point on, I woke up at 5 every morning to study the history of housing, completing my thesis on this topic. At the age of 71, I earned my PhD in engineering. People who make excuses because of their age simply have to accept becoming elderly.”
The phrase “life-long learning” was in fact coined by Ms. Matsuda. She established the Foundation of Global Life Learning Center in 1983, focusing on promoting the importance of “continuous learning and involvement in society regardless of your age”. She has devoted her efforts to addressing issues related to an aging society, such as her support for “the acquisition of PhDs for people 50 and older”.
At the heart of her way of living lies the spirit of contributing to society she inherited from her parents, great uncle and aunt. It is a philosophy of not just trying to contribute to society for its own sake, but thinking “what you can do to make society better”, and serving as a model through the example of your own actions.
Surprising Doctors With Her Youthfulness – Age is Just a Number
She comes to her foundation’s office at half past 8 every morning. She moves around the office swiftly, with her back upright, giving her staff succinct instructions with her powerful voice.
“My size hasn’t changed. I can still wear my Yves Saint-Laurent clothes from 30 years ago. I don’t catch colds and I’ve never had a hangover. The results of my medical checkup were so flawless that they surprised my doctor. The regimen I follow? It’s just to have a well-balanced diet.”
150 admirers from various fields attended the “Taeko Matsuda’s 90th birthday Celebration” event held in October 2017. It shed a light on the sheer scale of what she has accomplished, and the wide breadth of her social circle. Those who shine draw many people towards them, and by interacting with many people, they shine even more.
“Don’t talk to me like an old lady, saying things like ‘you’ve lived a long life’, or ‘what age do you want to live until?’ I think age is just a number”.
“I can’t stand being referred to as ‘elderly’. I earned my PhD in engineering when I was 71 you know.”
Ms. Taeko Matsuda’s “Regimen to Stay Active for Life”:
- Don’t drink any alcohol on at least two days a week.
- Make a ‘Health Day’ one day each week, and get a massage.
- Walk with your back upright.
Taeko Matsuda. Born in 1927. During her study in the U.S. she worked as a TV producer. After returning to Japan, she founded a housing construction company and the first PR company in Japan. In 1983, with the aim of nurturing human resources to contribute to an aging society, she founded the Foundation of the Global Life Learning Center. At the age of 71 she earned her PhD in engineering. She also founded a carpentry school in 2003 under the overarching theme of “reclaiming the importance of traditional culture”, helping to train over 600 carpenters. Her life is propelled by the spirit of social contribution.
photo top:Surrounded by many good-looking young men. One of her sources of vigor is her wide circle of friends.
Above: Surrounded by banzai applause at her 90th birthday.
Left: With members of a Harvard a cappella group of which she is an honorary member.
photo bottom:A bookshelf at her foundation filled with reference books for her studies.
Without any prior academic training in her chosen topic, she started studying for her PhD at the age of 65. This collection of books embodies the time and effort she put into her studies.