Learning > Inspiration

Japan's sprightly seniors

Walter Sim on 02 Sep 2017

The Straits Times


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TOKYO • Ms Masako Wakamiya was 81 last year when she created her first iPhone app. This year, she was invited to the annual Apple Worldwide Developers Conference.


"I wanted to try to make something fun," she said in Tokyo last week at the launch of The Truth About Age study by consultancy McCann Worldgroup. "More and more seniors are using smartphones and tablets, but there are not many game apps that seniors can enjoy."


Her Hinadan app, which borrows from the tiered platform for ornamental dolls used during the annual Japanese Doll Festival, has drawn 42,500 downloads. She said: "I now want to learn programming thoroughly, and update my app and make it available in English."


Ms Wakamiya is among many Japanese seniors who have confounded age expectations. Others include Instagram celebrity couple @bonpon511 - both are over 60 and have more than 545,000 followers.


Ms Fumie Takino, 84, continues to lead Japan Pom-Pom, a cheerleading squad she founded over two decades ago. The troupe now has more than 20 seniors, averaging 70 in age.


Last year, a band of five elderly men from Kochi prefecture, with an average age of 68.2, released its first single album. The oldest member is 81-year-old Hidetada Yamada.


Even so, concerns over the rapidly ageing population are rising among Japanese youth. "Many are getting more concerned about dementia and taking care of their parents... These concerns are weighing on the young," said McCann Japan planning director Jun Matsumoto.


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.


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