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Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010


Aging naturally and gracefully

The current Visit Japan campaign, where the government hopes to hit 10 million foreign visitors by the end of 2010, should be courting the American baby boomers — 78 million people between the ages of 50 and 70. We could call it the Visit Aging Japan Campaign.

Japan has a lot to be proud of when it comes to aging. While Europe and the U.S. are at the forefront of anti-aging, we're at the forefront of just plain aging. And we love aging! Age brings privilege, such as respect, retirement and a pension check. In Japan, if you're smart, you'd start getting older as soon as possible.

As the world's premier getting old country, there is a message the Japanese people can teach the West — mainly that getting old is OK. Here in Japan, people get old naturally but gracefully.

Japanese beauty is known throughout the world. It starts when you're born with ancient Japanese beauty secrets, such as eating food based on its nutritional value (rather than by taste), and by preventing the first rays of sun from ever touching the skin. Thus when you do get old, you're still beautiful. Old people in Japan tend to still have such good skin, they look 10 years younger than they really are.

Japan could lure foreign tourists by holding workshops on aging. Day 1 — Aging naturally The first day we spend getting back to nature — Japanese style! You'll sit on a tatami mat, where one has to get up and down constantly, all day long, from a seated position on the floor. A natural form of yoga, this increases body tone and suppleness. Participants will eat on low tables with long, skinny, cylindrical pieces of wood to increase the dexterity of the fingers.

We end the day by highlighting aging Japan with a bus tour of haikyo (abandoned building) ruins, followed by a stop at the local onsen where participants can experience the healing powers of the Japanese natural hot spring baths. At night you'll sleep on the floor in a very thin Japanese style futon. No doubling up or stacking futons please. One is enough, even when it's not.

Day 2 — Celebration of aging We celebrate the universal signs of aging in an attempt to get people more comfortable with being old.

The Furriest Man contest. This contest is based on the fact that the older men get, the more hirsute they become. Men go from being young, svelte, smooth-skinned pumas, to morphing into something akin to a molting penguin, complete with crazed eyebrows. A man who has truly aged beautifully should sport caterpillar eyebrows. With antennae.

We will also address balding. Contrary to popular belief, men do not lose their hair, it just migrates. When a man starts balding, it is just an indication that the follicles have pulled up roots and are heading to alternative climes — such as the arms, one of the most sought after retirement destinations for hair follicles. Older men always have a nice coat of fur on the arms. A man may also acquire a furry back, perhaps an indication that he is headed back to the caveman days.

There would also be a prize for the largest broccoli-like hair growth sprouting from the nose and another for curly ear hairs, especially if accompanied by some leftover dried up ear wax. After all, old comes first, old and crusty later. The awards ceremony will be followed by a visit from our in-house Bonsai Master, who will prune and shape men back into their former selves. The afternoon would include a bus tour of soon to be haikyo ruins, followed by tea ceremony with our in-house Tea Master showing you how to make the perfect cup of green tea.

After dinner we treat you to a typical Japanese home spa bath, a daily Japanese ritual that requires you to take 30 minutes to an hour at the end of the day to relax and soak in a hot mineral bath. Here we also introduce Japan's ubiquitous massage chairs. Just as Toto did to the Western toilet, the Japanese have taken the concept of the Western chair, and made it into a five-star experience. Why just sit down in a chair when you can do so much more with it? Day 3 — Acceptance We dedicate the morning to women and introduce them to Japanese sunscreen. You'll be fully kitted in leggings, short sleeve shirts with "arm guards" (separate arm pieces to cover the entire arm from the sun but which can also be taken off when inside), white gloves, a hat and a UV deflecting parasol. Don't leave home without them, even if it is bucketing down rain. The afternoon session will include a bus tour of future haikyo: government projects that are still being built and certain to become haikyo ruins before they are finished. The afternoon finishes with a stop at a local shop that sells obaa-chan carts.

In the evening, our in-house Master Sushi Chef will prepare you a meal of raw fish, miso soup with asari clams, an octopus salad, a couple large sea snails, and the grilled fish of the day. Newly pruned, kitted and carted, you're ready to go home and age gracefully on your own.

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