|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
Doctor Shigeaki Hinohara JUDIT KAWAGUCHIPHOTO
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
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 DukeUniversity 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.