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Get inspired by this feisty 76 year old Japanese woman traveller, who is still as sprightly at this age as a younger woman, travelling the world solo.
Japanese senior women prefer to have an active lifestyle. These elegantly dressed old Japanese women have abundant energy to maintain an active social life.
It is not a rare view to see them chatting and giggling with joyful enthusiasm in a cozy cafe or a restaurant. They could also be found sitting alone sipping their cup of tea and appreciating the aroma and the tranquillity of that moment. And other times they could be seen in uniform working somewhere or walking briskly, dragging a ‘trolley bag’ full of groceries. In other words, you would probably find them busy in the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, doing something or the other and trying their best to have a productive day.
Now there are two ways to look at this; a person might want to blame their children for not taking good care of them – like many have asked me, “Why is an old lady working as a cleaner? Should not her children be taking care of her?” And then there would be others getting inspired from them. Like those who tell me, “Isn’t it so amazing that even at this age she is willing to work and be independent?”
Surprisingly some of these senior citizens are happy to continue working, and those not working find a way to keep themselves engaged. They feel it is important for them to remain in shape both physically and mentally.
I see myself like that as well, if at all I live that long. I see myself guffawing with my friends under the soft coolness of tidy clouds. And I picture myself travelling to places and maybe teaching as well. I have so much of inspiration around me that I feel it is inevitable for me to dream of an active old age.
I have seen my grandmother living a life like that. She was an iron woman and an exceptional case around me when I lived in India. I saw her counterparts mostly involved in home politics with their daughters-in-law. She would tell me their silly stories, and we would laugh over them together thinking about how they were wasting precious years of their life despite all the available resources that they had.
A couple of years after my grandmother passed away, destiny sent me to her favourite place – Japan. I started teaching at English Language schools and at one of these schools I had the opportunity to meet a couple of old Japanese women who came to take my classes. One of them was Hiroko.
Around 68 years at that time, Hiroko came once every week to take my lessons. She was an ardent traveller who inspired me with her travel tales. I was awestruck the first time she showed me her pictures from Canada (a trip she had recently made) with northern lights in the background. At that point, I was surprised to see 68-year-old making an effort to learn English and passionately travelling to far off places.
Hiroko, a Japanese lady, had lived all her life in Japan. She was in her 20s when she got married. At the time she was doing a full-time job. After giving birth to her daughter (who now lives in California with her husband), she quit her job and became a full-time mother. Life was not easy for them regarding finances, and at that time she could not even think about travelling. She had a friend who would often go abroad on vacations. She would envy her travelling lifestyle, but decided to overcome the envious feeling and do something about it instead.
In her 40s she resumed working again. For the next ten years she worked very hard only to save up for travelling in the coming years. In the meantime, she decided to explore Japan. She was aware of reaching an age where travel would not be an easy thing to do. And so her focus along with earning money was to keep healthy and active. For which her passion for hiking came resourceful. More than anything she worked on strengthening her legs so that she could walk at the same pace with others.
At the age of 58, she climbed Mt. Fuji to the very top to see the sunrise. In past 25 years, she has travelled more than 15 countries and around 35 cities. She mostly goes by herself, as her husband is not very fond of travelling.
She says, “I do not have a huge house, but I have many beautiful memories. I have spent most of the money that I earned on travelling and plan to do so even in the future.” She further adds, “I try to visit two countries in one year and at other times I try to do hiking within Japan. Travelling takes away all my stress. When I was not travelling, I was mostly complaining about things in my life. Today am I glad that I made an effort to do something rather than just being a complainer.”
Her husband does not like travelling, but she doesn’t let that be a hindrance unlike many women I know, especially those of her age.
Travel is not the only thing about Hiroko that fascinates me. It is the zeal in her to do things even at this age that inspires me so much. She wakes up at 5:30 in the morning to study English. She doesn’t want to live very long as she hopes to be able to cook until her last day on earth. She considers homemade food the best.
Hiroko reminds me of Roman Payne’s words:
“Never did the world make a queen of a girl who hides in houses and dreams without travelling.”
Hiroko, presently 76 years old, started her travels at the age of 52. It began with her first visit to London, and since then there has been no looking back.
A picture from Hiroko’s most recent trip in 2016. She spent around two weeks in New Zealand
Hiroko’s pace of walking is same as mine and at times even faster. Meeting her gives me a lot of energy and inspiration, and it is a constant reminder that life is short, so do not waste your precious years (be at any age) in envying or regretting. Take charge of your life and do what gives you immense happiness. Blaming others for things that you fail to achieve is the easiest thing to do. What makes a difference and something that will also make you different is how you fight against those circumstances and stay persistent is getting where you want to be. It could be something minuscule, or it could be something that means life changing for you. And most importantly practice a healthy lifestyle so that you can even defeat your old age.
Life is not as complicated as we think of it to be. There is a solution to every situation. And if a person as simple as Hiroko can fulfil her dreams then I believe anyone can. So get over giving excuses and blaming others. I firmly believe that taking charge in your hands and constant faith would open doors for you sooner or later.
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Image source: pixabay
Megha has been living in Tokyo since 2007. She worked as an ESL teacher for
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