7/05/2006

Senior Citizen's Day

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Senior Citizen's Day

***** Location: India, Japan, worldwide
***** Season: Various, see below
***** Category: Humanity


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Explanation



getting older -
even the gods
need glasses


© Photo and Haiku by Gabi Greve, 2005

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CLICK for more dolls !

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- - - - - Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶

年よりや月を見るにもなむあみだ
toshiyori ya tsuki o miru ni mo Namu Amida

growing old -
even while moon gazing
I praise Amida Buddha!



Amida Prayer (Namu Amida Butsu)


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短夜をよろこぶとしと成にけり
mijikayo o yorokobu toshi to narinikeri

I'm old enough
to be very fond
of short nights


Comment by Chris Drake:

Issa wrote this hokku in the 5th month (June) at around the time of the summer solstice in 1819, when he was fifty-seven. From the days of courtly waka, short summer nights were associated with things that don't last long enough, especially meetings between lovers that are forcibly ended by the approach of dawn, when the man has to say farewell and go back to his own house before he is detected. Issa doesn't say why summer nights, which were once too short, are now so enjoyable, but warm summer weather might be one reason.
The long, cold, snowy winter nights in his hometown may be grinding him down physically as he approaches old age -- a person who reached sixty in those days was regarded as having lived a long life. Another possible reason Issa now likes short nights might be that he sleeps less and more lightly than he once did.

A month before writing this hokku, Issa wrote the following hokku in 4/1819 that indicates he's aware he's beginning to get old:

toshiyori to miru ya naku ka mo mimi no kiwa

does it, too, think
I'm old? mosquito whining
right in my ear


1819 is also the year Issa evokes in Year of My Life, in which he includes a hokku about a mosquito similar to this one. In the above hokku about the mosquito Issa suggests he's beginning to feel old, since people evidently stand near one of his ears now when they have something important to say. Issa humorously claims he's been betrayed by a mosquito that's whining close by, virtually in his ear.
It's bad enough that other humans regard him as an oldster, but when a mosquito does it, then Issa knows things are really getting bad.


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Senior Citizen's Day is celebrated in many countries at various times.
For Alzheimer's Day, see below.


The mention of an "old person" might lead to the feeling of winter as a season for a haiku, but "old man", "old woman" it is not one of the traditional kigo.

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August 21, India
kigo for the Rains (Varsha)


It began as a single thought in my mind but soon grew to take the shape of a short narrative. This is a predicament that many old people are facing in India now. . . Too many children have left the Indian shore to work in foreign countries. To expect them to come back to look after their aging parents does not work well with many families – and the last thing old people want is to be uprooted . . .in few cases that seems to be the only solution. . .like in the haibun above. The problem especially grows in stature after the demise of any one partner .

Old-age home is a definite alternative . . . but India being the land where the Joint Family system flourished till recently – for an adult to live her / his last days in an old-age home is not a very comforting thought and most children feel a sense of guilt when they do that.

The moot point is – is it the duty of the child to take care of his/ her parents? It is a very serious question that is being debated all over India. . . A question that can never hope to have a precise answer for life is never in black and white but dwells in shades of grey. . . for each family has its own story and own decisions to make.

In Pune – we have a very strong N.R.I. [non-resident-Indian] club , formed by the parents of all the NRI children. They help each other- meet once a month or more often- it rolls into a senior citizens club too!

Kala Ramesh, August 2006

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stepping aside
for the old man
to walk in


Sunil Uniyal-India (New Delhi)
August 2010

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Old age
shriveling leaves
playful wind ruffle.


Bramdev Sharma
August 2010


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Worldwide use


. World Elders Day .
October 01

The International Day of Older Persons is observed on October 1 each year.

On December 14, 1990 the United Nations General Assembly voted to establish October 1 as the International Day of Older Persons as recorded in Resolution 45/106. The holiday was observed for the first time on October 1, 1991.

The holiday is celebrated by raising awareness about issues affecting the elderly, such as senescence and elder abuse. It is also a day to appreciate the contributions that older people make to society.

This holiday is similar to National Grandparents Day in the United States and Canada as well as Respect for the Aged Day in Japan. The observance is a focus of ageing organizations and the United Nations Programme on Ageing.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !



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Japan
September 15, kigo for mid-Autumn


Respect for the Aged Day, keiroo no hi
けいろうのひ、敬老の日
roojin no hi 老人の日(ろうじんのひ)Day of the Elderly
..... toshiyori no hi 年寄の日(としよりのひ)



Respect for the Aged Day -
he drives his car in the ditch
for no special reason




Gabi Greve, August 2006

Most of the farmers in my area are 65 and much much older ...


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If only, when one heard
That Old Age was coming
One could bolt the door
Answer 'not at home'
And refuse to meet him!


(Anonymous, "Kokinshu" Imperial poetry anthology, 10th century)

Read a long essay
. Aging through the ages
Japan in the year 2010



More than 230.000 elders over 100 are registered, but do not exist !

A total of 234,354 centenarians are unaccounted for across Japan despite still being registered as alive under the family registry system, the government said Friday based on its nationwide survey on missing elderly.

Of the persons aged 100 and over whose current domicile cannot be found, 77,118 would be 120 years old or older and 884 would be at least 150 years old if they were still alive, the Justice Ministry said.

The ministry has instructed regional legal affairs bureaus across the nation to delete from family register books the names of people aged 120 years or older whose domicile cannot be confirmed, it said.

Its impact on Japan’s average life expectancy is also likely to be minimal because the figures are calculated based on information collected for national censuses, conducted every five years, by field workers who directly visit households, and data on men aged 98 and over and women who are 103 years old or above are not included in computing life expectancy figures.
source : www.japantoday.com



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- - - Hojo Shigetoki, c. 1260, wrote :

It is said that when the elderly become enfeebled, they enter their second childhood.
Their hair becomes white, their foreheads become wrinkled, and their hips bend like a bow of catalpa wood. When looking in the mirror their image has changed, and one would doubt that they are the same person. The person who comes once in a great while to visit pays his respects and goes home, and there is truly no one who comes to stay awhile. The elderly person's mind has certainly changed from how it was in the past; he cannot remember the things that he has heard, and forgets what he has seen. He feels resentment in the things he should rejoice in, and rejoices in the things he should resent. These things are all in the nature of the elderly.

Understanding this well, one should first have sympathy with what his elderly parents have said, and not turn his back on them. When the way passed by one's parents has been long and their destination at hand, one may wonder how much longer he will listen to such words as theirs. At this time he should follow their dictums by all means. This will surely come to one's own mind after he has become old.
source : forums.samurai-archives.com


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ikaserete kyuujuunana sai aki higan

given to life
for 97 years -
autumn equinox


durchs Leben geführt
seit 97 Jahren -
Herbstsonnwende

Sugiura san is 97 years.

Read more here:
Haiku with Hundred, a collection of Japanese Haiku Poets
Tranlsated by Gabi Greve


ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo


getting older, growing old, toshi o toru 年を取る
For things, we say "furuku naru 古くなる".

In old Japan, it was customary for everyone to add one year of age on January First. The individual birthday was not celebrated. Some food is also connected with "taking on another year, toshitori". Here is Kobayashi Issa on the subject:

の庵年取餅を買にけり
kusa no io toshitori mochi o kai ni keri

thatched hut -
buying rice dumplings
to grow older another year

(Tr. Gabi Greve)

Read more about it here.

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Kenya

Ageing ... Getting old in Kenya


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North America
December, kigo for Winter



Mills Lawn kindergartners always sing and bring good cheer to Senior Citizens' Day at Yellow Springs High School each December.
http://www.yellow-springs.k12.oh.us/ys-mls/senior_citizen's_day.htm

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Taiwan

Ninth day of the ninth month (old lunar calendar)
Kigo for Autumn


A number of activities are held on Senior Citizen's Day to show respect to the elderly, including the main Senior Citizen's Day Celebration. As the average age of Taiwan's population gradually increases, caring for the elderly takes on ever increasing importance. In caring for the elderly, Taiwan must formulate policies to safeguard their welfare and enhance social activities for the elderly, as well as instill an ethic of respect for the aged in daily life.
http://www.gio.gov.tw/info/festival_c/99_e/html/old.htm


According to Chinese custom, "nine" is a number belonging to the positive principle "yang," thus the day is also known as Chung Yang or "Double Yang" Festival.

The day is traditionally celebrated by activities including hill-climbing, drinking chrysanthemum wine, hanging dogwood sprays, and other customs handed down from the Han dynasty story
of Huan Ching and Fei Chang-fang, and were all originally practiced to avoid disaster and danger. Taking advantage of the high, cool fall winds of the season, the people on Taiwan have
enriched the holiday with kite-flying, a custom which has become immensely popular on the island over the years.

In Chinese, the word "nine" is homophonous with the word for "long time," and accordingly this number has come to represent longevity.

Thus, in 1966, the Ministry of Interior designated Double Ninth Day as Senior Citizen's Day in the ROC, and the week beginning on this holiday is observed as Senior Citizen's Week. Since then, Double Ninth Day has gradually lost its original purpose, becoming today a time of expressing gratitude to the elderly for their hard work and continuing the Chinese tradition of revering the old.

Every major holiday in Taiwan is characterized by special dishes with traditional meaning, and Double Nine Day is no exception to this rule. Double Nine Cakes are eaten to symbolize luck and the "ascendance of all things" since "cake" is homophonous with "high" in Chinese.

Through the ages, Double Nine Day has evolved into a rich and varied occasion, with hill climbing and kite flying activities to strengthen the body, soul and heart; and Senior Citizens' Day to invigorate the traditional Chinese values of filial piety and caring for the elderly. The occasion is thus a time both of good spirit and deep traditional significance.
© IACC Newsletter
http://www.iacc.com.tw/newsletter/2002-10.htm


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Things found on the way


Haibun, contributed by Kala Ramesh

And so, an hour passes . . .

dead body . . .
only the shadows of leaves
dance on her face


My wife died – thirteen days back.
To be single again - it’s a strange feeling that after sixty-six years of togetherness, I am all alone.

Like the River Cauvery that swells in the monsoons then becomes so thin that it seems almost like a drawn line, my family was huge once when my five children were small - kids take wings and take off and slowly my wife and I just grew accustomed to being by ourselves.

My son and my daughter-in-law are here. They keep insisting that I will feel miserable in London. I keep telling them that I am ready to go with them. My daughter-in-law says "But papa, you have your temple, your friends here. What will you do there? It’s a foreign country papa, try to understand.

"How can I tell her that I am scared of staying alone? Won’t my grand children laugh at me?

the chameleon
changes its colours . . .
sultry morning


First published in Simply Haiku – Fall 05. Vol. 3 No. 3


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The Life at Sun-Heim, Home for the Elderly
. Painting Daruma .


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HAIKU


autumn dusk
an elderly couple
walk their dog

senior citizens club:
air more refreshing
than the talk


Kala Ramesh, August 2006

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Bent but holds on,
The old wishes not to go
Weak but sharp.


Aju Mukhopadhyay, India

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ancient oak
in the village square ...
one day I will join you

still counting sheep
in his sleep
old shepherd


Ella Wagemakers

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senior admission
I used to be
an adult


Bill Kenney


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winter evening
the chit-chatting old women
giggle like girls


Lary Bole

Even though I heard the women during a winter evening, I thought about in which season it would be most appropriate to set this haiku, and toyed with the idea of a spring evening. But I felt that "winter evening" is a better context for old women feeling girlish in the winter of their lives.
I also felt that "spring evening" would be too obvious.

Matsuo Basho, in the following haiku, expresses a different sentiment:

今日ばかり人も年寄れ初時雨
kyoo bakari hito mo toshiyore hatsushigure

For a linked verse gathering at Kyoriku's cottage, 3rd of Tenth Month, fifth year of Genroku

just today,
let's all be old:
first winter shower

Tr. Barhill

just for today
let us all be aged men--
first winter shower

Tr. Ueda

Barnhill notes that the attendees at the haikai gathering were Basho, Kyoriku, Ranran, Shadoo, and Taisui.

The commentator Nobutane, in Ueda's "Basho and His Interpreters", says:
Young people, being full of energy, rarely feel 'mono no aware'. When they become old and lose their vitality, they are easily bothered by little things. That is the difference between youth and old age. The poet therefore asks everyone to grow aged that particular day before looking up at the showery sky. Here is a display of superb art.

Larry Bole
February 2012


today is a day
when people just (huddle and) grow old -
first winter drizzle


Tr. Gabi Greve, Winter Drizzle


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Jitoku no shin 自得の箴

めでたき人の数にも入らむ老の暮
medetaki hito no kazu ni mo iran oi no kure

soon I belong
to the fortunate people -
year ends in old age



Written in 1686 貞亨3年暮 as the inscription to a painting.
Basho has celebrated his 42th birthday at the beginning of this year. 42 for a man was a birthday of the "first time getting old" 初老. People did not get much older than 50 in the Edo period.
If he passes this year and into the next, he will be on the "lucky" side.
Personal yakudoshi 厄年 "years of calamity" were important.
For men, the ages 25 and 42 are deemed critical years, with 42 being especially critical. It is customary in these unlucky years to visit a temple or shrine to pray for divine protection from harm and buy a special amulet.

iramu 入らむ iran

shoroo, hatsu oi 初老 a man passed middle age.


. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


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The aged swordsmen,
Watching the seasons pass by-
Dust on his bokken...


- Shared by Steve Weiss
Joys of Japan, March 2012



The aged archer,
Watching the seasons pass by-
Dust on his arrows....


Gabi Greve


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Related words

***** World Alzheimer's Day
September 21
kigo for autumn
memory loss, senility, dementia, young Alzheimer



One hundred years after Dr Alois Alzheimer first described Alzheimer's disease, the world unites to commemorate World Alzheimer's Day, 21 September.
Shocking figures published in the medical journal The Lancet warn of an imminent dementia epidemic. With one new case every seven seconds the number of people with dementia will increase to 81 million by 2040.

‘As the number of people with dementia around the world reaches epidemic proportions there has never been a better time to bring dementia to the attention of the world's policy makers. Governments need to prepare their health and social systems. They must provide quality community-based services, invest in research and give access to new treatments. We have no time to lose in making dementia a global health priority,' said Michael Lefevre, Executive Director of Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI).
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=52352&nfid=rssfeeds


memory loss
at the kitchen table -
who are you ?




Gabi Greve, May 2006



autumn with alzheimer -
she breaks the bread
.. ... .. carefully

Gabi Greve, September 2007

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late afternoon --
again, she sweeps
pieces of sunlight


Carol Raisfeld, 2007


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in this group
at the age of wisdom ~
rocking chairs


- Shared by Elaine Andre -
Group: Joys of Japan, October 2012



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***** Senior Citizen, Elder, Elderly, Old People

non-seasonal topic for haiku


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September 15, 2014

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13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Respect for the Aged Day -
grandpa's teeth rinsed
and ready to go


Shane Gilreath

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/simply_haiku/message/15929

. Gabi Greve said...

.
growing old--
these eyes no good
for flea chasing


toshiyori mo nomi o ou me wa kasumanu ka

としよりも蚤を追ふ目はかすまぬか

by Issa, 1822

http://cat.xula.edu/issa/

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. Gabi Greve said...

.
am Kanal entlang -
eine Frau fragt mich,
wo sie wohne

Angelika Wienert, 2006

http://haiku-shelf.blogspot.com/2006/09/photo-martin-g_25.html

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Anonymous said...

.
93rd autumn-
only companions left,
old mountains


—Vishnu P Kapoor

http://tinywords.com/haiku/2006/10/12/

Anonymous said...

.
growing old--
these eyes no good
for flea chasing


toshiyori mo nomi o ou me wa kasumanu ka

としよりも蚤を追ふ目はかすまぬか

by Issa, 1822

In the original, Issa poses a rhetorical question: "Don't these flea-chasing eyes blur/cloud over?" Shinji Ogawa notes that, in Japanese, "there is an idiom, nomi-tori manako (flea catcher's eyes = keen eagle eyes).
In this haiku, Issa plays with the idiomatic phrase by aying, 'Aren't even the old man's eyes blurred when chasing fleas?"

Tr. David Lanoue
http://cat.xula.edu/issa/

Anonymous said...

.
growing old--
a sooty paper fan
works fine


toshiyoreba susuke oogi mo tanomi kana

.としよれば煤け扇もたのみ哉

by Issa, 1818

I changed my translation of the third line from "is fine" to "works fine" based on the comment of Sakuo Nakamura: "Tanomi means to rely on, or to depend on."
He paraphrases:

"growing old
even a sooty paper fan
is reliable."

Sakuo adds that if the old man had a new fan, he would look even older than before!

Tr. David Lanoue / http://cat.xula.edu/issa/

Gabi Greve said...

老いながら椿となつて踊りけり
oinagara tsubaki to natte odorikeri

as I get older
I will become a camellia
and dance and dance


 Mitsuhashi Takajo 三橋鷹女
Tr. Gabi Greve

Anonymous said...


even blossom viewing
becomes a chore...
growing old

hana miru mo yakume nari keri oi ni keri

.花見るも役目也けり老にけり

by Issa, 1814

In the shorthand of haiku, "blossoms" (hana) can mean "cherry blossoms."

Tr. David Lanoue
http://cat.xula.edu/issa/

Heike Gewi said...

Once I posted a haiku reflecting the desease Alzheimer, a night
terror by itself:


golden autumnlight
has lost the way..
Alzheimer's winter


Here I'm not describing the seasons but periods of lifetime in
sickness - loneliness, not able to share all the good times/memories.
Getting old without a memory...it must be sooo cold


Heike Gewi

anonymous said...

Here are the results of the SHIKI Kukai on AGEING, as regards the members of Kenya Saijiki :

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6 Points
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my grandfather --
using less and less
of his cane

~ Abraham Muuo

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5 Points
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my grandmother
looking at me closely --
the frown on her face

~ Anne Wairimu

sunny evening --
my grandmother talking
to herself

~ Solomon Kilelu

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2 Points
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breezy evening --
my grandmother
trembles

~ Wandera David

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1 Point
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my grandmother
brushing a toothless mouth--
ageing

~ Joseph Kilunda

my grandfather
holding onto my hand --
a slow walk

~ Onesmus

my grandfather
chewing soft vegetables --
his toothless mouth

~ John Mwangi

----------------------------------------------
Other entries selected from among many submissions
----------------------------------------------
grey beads swing
an old man rides a bike
across a pine road

~ hussein haji

my grandmother
struggling to chew meat --
lunchtime

~ Martin Kamau

my grandfather
searching for his specs --
grey eyes

~ Fatuma Katana

my grandmother --
cap tightly covering
her bald head

~ Bilha Wanjiku

my mother
looking for dye --
more grey hair

~ Irene Muthengi

my grandmother
searching for tobacco --
a new pipe

~ Lucy Nyambura

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kenyasaijiki/message/1065

anonymous said...

Japan Times Quote
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20090129jk.html

Shigeaki Hinohara

By JUDIT KAWAGUCHI


At the age of 97 years and 4 months, Shigeaki Hinohara is one of the world's longest-serving physicians and educators. Hinohara's magic touch is legendary: Since 1941 he has been healing patients at St. Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo and teaching at St. Luke's College of Nursing. After World War II, he envisioned a world-class hospital and college springing from the ruins of Tokyo; thanks to his pioneering spirit and business savvy, the doctor turned these institutions into the nation's top medical facility and nursing school. Today he serves as chairman of the board of trustees at both organizations. Always willing to try new things, he has published around 150 books since his 75th birthday, including one "Living Long, Living Good" that has sold more than 1.2 million copies. As the founder of the New Elderly Movement, Hinohara encourages others to live a long and happy life, a quest in which no role model is better than the doctor himself.

Energy comes from feeling good, not from eating well or sleeping a lot. We all remember how as children, when we were having fun, we often forgot to eat or sleep. I believe that we can keep that attitude as adults, too. It's best not to tire the body with too many rules such as lunchtime and bedtime.

All people who live long — regardless of nationality, race or gender — share one thing in common: None are overweight. For breakfast I drink coffee, a glass of milk and some orange juice with a tablespoon of olive oil in it. Olive oil is great for the arteries and keeps my skin healthy. Lunch is milk and a few cookies, or nothing when I am too busy to eat. I never get hungry because I focus on my work. Dinner is veggies, a bit of fish and rice, and, twice a week, 100 grams of lean meat.

Always plan ahead. My schedule book is already full until 2014, with lectures and my usual hospital work. In 2016 I'll have some fun, though: I plan to attend the Tokyo Olympics!

There is no need to ever retire, but if one must, it should be a lot later than 65. The current retirement age was set at 65 half a century ago, when the average life-expectancy in Japan was 68 years and only 125 Japanese were over 100 years old. Today, Japanese women live to be around 86 and men 80, and we have 36,000 centenarians in our country. In 20 years we will have about 50,000 people over the age of 100.

Share what you know. I give 150 lectures a year, some for 100 elementary-school children, others for 4,500 business people. I usually speak for 60 to 90 minutes, standing, to stay strong.

When a doctor recommends you take a test or have some surgery, ask whether the doctor would suggest that his or her spouse or children go through such a procedure. Contrary to popular belief, doctors can't cure everyone. So why cause unnecessary pain with surgery? I think music and animal therapy can help more than most doctors imagine.

To stay healthy, always take the stairs and carry your own stuff. I take two stairs at a time, to get my muscles moving.

My inspiration is Robert Browning's poem "Abt Vogler." My father used to read it to me. It encourages us to make big art, not small scribbles. It says to try to draw a circle so huge that there is no way we can finish it while we are alive. All we see is an arch; the rest is beyond our vision but it is there in the distance.

Pain is mysterious, and having fun is the best way to forget it. If a child has a toothache, and you start playing a game together, he or she immediately forgets the pain. Hospitals must cater to the basic need of patients: We all want to have fun. At St. Luke's we have music and animal therapies, and art classes.

Don't be crazy about amassing material things. Remember: You don't know when your number is up, and you can't take it with you to the next place.

Hospitals must be designed and prepared for major disasters, and they must accept every patient who appears at their doors. We designed St. Luke's so we can operate anywhere: in the basement, in the corridors, in the chapel. Most people thought I was crazy to prepare for a catastrophe, but on March 20, 1995, I was unfortunately proven right when members of the Aum Shinrikyu religious cult launched a terrorist attack in the Tokyo subway. We accepted 740 victims and in two hours figured out that it was sarin gas that had hit them. Sadly we lost one person, but we saved 739 lives.

Science alone can't cure or help people. Science lumps us all together, but illness is individual. Each person is unique, and diseases are connected to their hearts. To know the illness and help people, we need liberal and visual arts, not just medical ones.

Life is filled with incidents. On March 31, 1970, when I was 59 years old, I boarded the Yodogo, a flight from Tokyo to Fukuoka. It was a beautiful sunny morning, and as Mount Fuji came into sight, the plane was hijacked by the Japanese Communist League-Red Army Faction. I spent the next four days handcuffed to my seat in 40-degree heat. As a doctor, I looked at it all as an experiment and was amazed at how the body slowed down in a crisis.

Find a role model and aim to achieve even more than they could ever do. My father went to the United States in 1900 to study at Duke University in North Carolina. He was a pioneer and one of my heroes. Later I found a few more life guides, and when I am stuck, I ask myself how they would deal with the problem.

It's wonderful to live long. Until one is 60 years old, it is easy to work for one's family and to achieve one's goals. But in our later years, we should strive to contribute to society. Since the age of 65, I have worked as a volunteer. I still put in 18 hours seven days a week and love every minute of it.

The Japan Times
(C) All rights reserved

Gabi Greve - Issa said...

Kobayashi Issa
and the old frog

葉隠に年寄声の蛙哉
hagakure ni toshiyori koe no kawazu kana

from behind leaves
the old, old voice
of a frog

This spring hokku was written on 2/1 (March 9) in 1807, when Issa was living in Edo.

As Issa walks by a bush or perhaps a low, leafy tree, he hears a long, low sound he can't place. Listening carefully, Issa recognizes the croaking of an old frog, but the fact that the frog is invisible in the daytime in the depths of a bush surely gives the frog's low croaks an uncanny emotional amplification. The frog might be asserting its territorial rights and right to privacy, so its aged voice perhaps has a ring of authority to it

The word toshiyori in the second line usually refers to an old human being, but in some contexts it refers equally to old or aged animals of all kinds, including frogs. Issa himself has two hokku about old or aged deer (toshiyori-jika). In the above hokku Issa uses the phrase toshiyori-goe no to modify "frog."

It literally means "frog with an aged/old voice" -- another way of saying "an old frog's voice," except that Issa can't see the frog behind the leaves, so he has to judge its age by its voice, a voice which itself may sound a bit primordial. In other hokku Issa uses the same expression to suggest the age expressed by the cries of plovers, wild geese, autumn insects, and even bush warblers (uguisu), who are said to be "older" in the summer than they were in the spring.

There is no trace of an old human in the above hokku, since it is the old frog itself that is the toshiyori or oldster, as revealed by its old-sounding voice.

Chris Drake

Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

としよりも目の正月ぞさくら花
toshiyori mo me no shoogatsu zo sakura hana

This hokku appears in an anthology called Light Blue Sky, a selection of his later hokku Issa made for his student Shunko. It is a variant of a hokku from the first month (February) of 1820 in Issa 's diary. That hokku begins kochitora mo, "even I/we," so I take "old person" in the first line of the variant hokku above to refer to himself as an old person. In 1820 Issa was fifty-eight, but he had lost all his teeth years before, and he could feel himself aging.

Issa seems to be using New Year's in two different senses. To "have New Year's before your eyes" was an idiom for seeing something beautiful or unusual that was exceedingly pleasing or healing to the heart or mind, as pleasing or healing as New Year's, in various ways the best time of the year. Cherries bloom in the second and third lunar months and aren't a New Year's sight, so Issa is saying that as he views the cherry blossoms with old eyes he's still deeply moved and is simultaneously seeing two different peak-experience times, even though his eyes are not as good as they used to be and despite the fact that he's seen many, many cherry blossoms over the years.

Lunar New Year's, however, is also the time when everyone gets a year older, so Issa's merging of two times of year seems to imply that as he views the cherry blossoms he also sharply feels he is a year older and a year closer to falling and leaving the world in the same way the petals are falling and will soon disappear. Perhaps Issa is also implying that the cherry blossoms are even more moving now than they were when he was younger, since he now knows with his body's knowledge that he can't watch them forever. The two overlapping senses of New Year's make the hokku perceptibly waver in meaning and tone in much the way that the passage of time makes so many meanings in daily life move continuously back and forth.

Chris Drake

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