Is Japan getting old?
It took me about three months to draft this story just because I was finding myself thinking whether it’s something most of you, my dear readers, would understand and relate to. I mean, we’re all hungry for adventure and we reckon’ every post must be made up of thrills, frills and excitement.
This time, I am writing to you about something I realized when I went to Japan.
In the land of the rising sun, there are more old people that I have seen than the youth. I am surprised but more curious how this came to be. When we talk of Japan, we think of high-tech gadgets, latest trends and anime. We think of the power of the youth and how it has influenced each and every country in the world.
I was running from the underground shopping mall in Osaka. I was breezing through a sea of people who appeared to be excited for the night’s clubbing in downtown Dotonburi when I came across an old lady. She’s a little over sixty with her steel walker and trying her best with the steps. I stopped for a bit and tried my best to make her feel more comfortable. She signaled It’s okay. I walked away with a burden.
I was riding the train in Hiroshima when I stopped to look at my fellow passengers. I can attest to that I was, maybe, one of the less than 20 people below 40 years old. I’ve seen men and women, them with their wrinkled face and eyes that speak so much of their past. In the land where the greatest destruction to man happened, I was bound to face the truth. These people have endured pain and sufferings. Yet, they’re still here living their lives like us.
And the photo that made it to the story is an old charming lady, roughly a little over 70 was walking uphill in the mountains of Saitama in Fukuoka. I couldn’t help but wonder how it must be for her to go through the many steps and steep climbs just to go up and meditate.
The old people of Japan have been an eye-opener to me more than I think it should. In Japan, nearly 1 in every four people are aged 65 years old and above. In 2010, around 4.6 million elderly lived alone across the country. And the number of them who died at home rose to 61% from 2003. Indeed, Japan is getting old.
I went out for lunch with my friend and her family, one day. I’ve seen joy through the eyes of the old people as they look at the babies, cute and cuddly. I’ve never seen a more happy elderly, since then.