The secret to a long life? It’s in the Okinawa diet

Subtropical and made up of 160 islands, Okinawa prefecture sits almost 2,000km south of Tokyo.

With its turquoise waters lapping against sandy beaches backed by jungle-covered hills, at times it’s hard to remember you’re still in Japan.

Okinawa was part of the Ryukyu kingdom – a kingdom that ruled most of the Ryukyu Islands from the 15th to the 19th century – for years, and only became a part of Japan in 1879.

The Shuri Castle, a Unesco World Heritage Site in the prefecture’s capital city Naha, was seen as a symbol of Okinawa and long served as the palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Sadly, in October last year, it was largely destroyed by fire.

The island chain is notable for how long-lived its people are, something widely credited to its food.

Okinawans have an average life expectancy of 84, and 76 of every 100,000 residents live to 100 – more than three times the figure in the United States. Nowhere else, not even in other parts of Japan, matches this.

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