Holding your retreat in one of the world’s most unique and beautiful settings lets you give your group a truly unforgettable experience. With its untouched nature, healthy diet and lifestyle, and exotic culture, Okinawa is the perfect destination for a premium wellness retreat.
Why do people live so long in Okinawa?
It’s no secret that Japan consistently takes the top spot as the world’s healthiest country. Its average life expectancy of 84.7 years is more than a full year above the next-best nations like Norway, Korea, and Switzerland. But even within the borders of the island nation, there is one place that outlives all the others – Okinawa.
Okinawa is one of the world’s 5 blue zones
Okinawa is one of only 5 “blue zones” in the world. What is a blue zone? It is a small region where it’s speculated that people live longer than average.
The reasons for this may include lifestyle, diet, climate, and other factors. Okinawa’s tropical climate and untouched nature set the scene. While the Okinawan diet and superfoods plus an active, low-stress lifestyle check all the boxes for a long and happy life.
Superfoods and the Okinawa diet
The relationship between food and health is undeniable. You are what you eat. While not vegetarian, Okinawans have a primarily plant-based diet, with local fruits and vegetables rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Here are 7 superfoods that Okinawans eat to help make them among the healthiest people on earth:
Beni-imo (purple sweet potato)
Goya (bitter gourd)
Kokuto (brown sugar)
Shikuawasa (Okinawa lime)
Shima tofu (island tofu)
Umibudou (sea grapes)
Turmeric and Okinawan sea salt – both of which have numerous health benefits – are also staples of the Okinawan diet.
What’s unique about Okinawa?
With its pristine beaches, crystal clear waters, and untouched nature, Okinawa is a world unto itself. And beyond being a sub-tropical paradise, it is more diverse and multicultural than the rest of Japan. With its cultural roots in the Ryūkyū Kingdom, it thrived with international trade while Japan spent centuries closed to the outside world.
Okinawa’s secret to longevity
Scholars have been studying Okinawan longevity for decades. In addition to diet, there’s general agreement that lifestyle is a significant factor.
An active social life
For many Okinawans, building a moai is essential to a long life. (Don’t worry, you won’t need to carve an 80-tonne stone monolith.) In Japanese, a moai is a close-knit, lifelong social support group entrenched in the idea of community sharing a common purpose.
Staying physically active is also essential, and many Okinawans over the age of 80 can be seen farming, fishing, or otherwise fulfilling their purpose.
The Okinawan culture and dialect
Before becoming the last prefecture to join Japan in 1879, Okinawa was its nation – the Ryukyu Kingdom – for 450 years. With its northern neighbour closed off for most of those years, trade relations were mainly with China rather than Japan.
It’s 140 km closer to Taiwan than the southernmost tip of the rest of Japan. Influence from Taiwan, China, and even The Philippines can be seen in Okinawa’s culture. Many Okinawans consider themselves ethnically different from their compatriots to the north.
Singing and dancing are a large part of Okinawan culture. Eisa (エイサー) is a popular folk dance performed during Obon – a 3-day summer festival that much of the country plans their summer vacation around. At large Eisa festivals, groups of 20 to 30 young men and women parade through the streets, dancing, chanting, and drumming, representing their communities.
Ikigai – the secret to a long and happy life
While it’s not a “secret”, ikigai remains fundamental to a long and happy life. It means your life’s (iki) worth (gai), or your purpose in life. It’s about finding joy in that purpose.
However, that purpose should land in the centre of a Venn diagram about getting paid for doing what you’re good at, what you love, and what the world needs.
When is the best time to visit Okinawa?
With the rainy season stretching from May to June, and typhoons in July and August, the best time to visit Okinawa is from March to April and September to November. It also experiences hanami (ie: flower viewing) season earlier than other prefectures, with cherry blossoms coming out between mid-January and mid-February.
To learn more about arranging an Okinawa wellness retreat for your group, please contact us.