Standard for Health Care: Feeling Good?

hinoharaDawn shared this article that I loved so much I wanted to post here!

It’s a spotlight (written by Judit Kawaguchi) on 97 year old physician and author Shigeaki Hinohara.  As you read his life perspectives, I think you’ll see why he earned a spot on our Good Vibe Blog!

Here’s the excerpt from The Japan Times online (my favorite parts highlighted):

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. 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.

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.

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.

Written by: Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK’s “Out & About.” Learn more at:

What an inspiration!  If my health care system had doctors like this, I would probably carry health insurance because I know it would actually help if I needed it!

Thanks, Dawn, for passing this along.

  • April 30, 2009
  • BIO says:

    I am amazed by what the doctor said about science lumping us all together and that diseases are individual in nature as we are unique. Solutions are, indeed, personal.

  • Oh shoot!! I posted anonymously by mistake and when i tried to repost, I ended up posting something I wrote for the CTI forum. Lucky it’s all good stuff about you *PHEW* ahhahaha

  • Anonymous says:

    I love him!! No rules around bedtime and lunchtime!? Woohooo! And he’s 97? And people in Japan live to 80+? I’m moving!
    Seriously, my great grandfather lived to a 106 and fully functioning and healthy (except a little deaf and hard of seeing). Don’t think he was as active as the good Dr although he did go for daily walks and read the newspaper. I bet boredom killed him more than anything else!
    This gentleman ROCKS!

  • Janette says:

    Fabulous vibe lifter to immunise us all against the screaming headlines around us – thank you Dr Jeannette, such a painless way to get my anti-gloom “jab” – tee hee!!

  • You and me both, Jerielle! lol

  • JM says:

    this man is obviously incredible, but I have to say that hearing Iyabo say:
    “O, it just warmed my cockles!”
    just made my weekend. 🙂

  • Glad you liked it, Madisen! Apparently we have similar taste in inspiration!
    Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  • Madisen says:

    I got goosebumps all over while reading this too!!! I love it! Thank you thank you thank you for sharing this!!! =D

  • Well, Michelle, your comment makes me wonder what else they readily know that we don’t … worth looking into.
    Thanks for reading and for writing, my friend!

  • Michelle says:

    Not to make distinctions, but Japanese have always been known for healthy living and for their different culture. His philosophies that are mentioned on this post are very inspiring in a way that is believable and makes you start on yourself creating good vibes around you immediately. Very driving post. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Here’s to enjoying the benefits of short term memory! ha
    I’ve wondered how you’re getting along, Leslie — thanks for checking in with an update!
    Much love to you and mom. 🙂

  • Leslie Richter says:

    My 76 year old mother is living with me and she reminds me of how Jeannette describes her dogs always game for anything and enthusiastic. Her short term memory is a little sketchy and I just tease her that means everyday is a new experience – as it should be anyways!
    Recently I went to give her a bath and she said enthusiastically you realize I haven’t had a bath in a month. Mother I say I give you a bath every week, feeling a little prickly. Oh she says, and gets in and says oh this is lovely looking up at me amongst her lavender scented bubbles. She drives me crazy at times but those moments of her feeling good and looking up at me with her childlike grin are precious.
    Yesterday she called me outside to watch a robin trying to pull a string off some lumber my husband has stacked up. Strands of something obviously nailed to the lumber. Talk about halarious, the bird could have been on utube with his antics.
    Living with a senior is not for a minute what I thought it would be like and though there are some tough moments there are a lot of feel good moments as well, because that seems to be where in her innocense and wisdom where she wants to go.
    Love Leslie

  • Well said, Gillian. Good reminder that what we want doesn’t necessarily have to cost any money to get!
    Thanks for reading and posting, Gillian and Danae! 🙂

  • Gillian says:

    Very, very interesting. That reminds me of friend once telling me that there is no better way to stay and look young than just by simply feeling and being a kid again. Expressing innocense and a careferee nature keeps us so much younger than the most expensive anti-wrinkle cream.

  • I loved it!! Suddenly I feel very very young!!

  • It sure reiterates that Abe quote we passed around on twitter the other day about how aging and decline are NOT synonymous!
    Thanks for reading and for contributing to the conversation, my coach friends! 🙂

  • Glad you liked it, Pernille! I’m sure your LOA audience in Denmark will enjoy it as well! 🙂

  • The Inner Genius Coach says:

    Jeanette, I think this is LOA Japanese style! I love it. I want to spend time with this man and glean from his wisdom.
    O, it just warmed my cockles!
    Iyabo Asani

  • I’m curious, Iyabo, how readily his viewpoints were accepted by his Japanese patients. Are they more open minded than westerners about this sort of stuff? Cool if so!

  • What a wonderful story – I got goose bumbs reading it – thanks for sharing this 🙂
    – I’m going to read it again now!

  • You know what I love, too, Ms Nikki, that he’s done so well with his business/practice! I think that makes him more credible to those who might be skeptical of his ideas.
    Thanks for reading and for posting, Ms Nikki! 🙂

  • MSNikki says:

    Where was Dr Hinohara when I was growing up??? His wonderful perspectives on health and good living would have proven formidible defense against my Japanese mother’s relentless pragmatism! I am going to ask her about him because she was in Japan when his tramautic flight had occurred. This was a couple of years before I was born. Either way, I am going to share his pearls of wisdom for great living! Especially his little gem on milk and cookies for lunch?!

  • Amen to cookies for lunch! lol

  • Dawn says:

    You’re so welcome, Jeannette! I’m thrilled you enjoyed it! I’m glad I could share something with you after all you’ve given me! Thank you for helping me so many times with all your wisdom.
    And, really, how can you go wrong when you have cookies for lunch? (I had them for dinner last night … :o)

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