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The Beauty & Influence of Okinawa

Jisa Oh explains the reason for creating Wellness East, and how integrating Okinawan lifestyle into every day has brought balance and increased health to her own life. 

BY JISA OH

 

Okinawan life and culture have long been revered as the healthiest in the world, and for good reason.

As the only Blue Zone in Asia, (geographic areas in which people have low rates of chronic disease and live longer than anywhere else), doing a deep dive into the culture and way of life is not only worthwhile, it’s unlocking centuries of ancient wisdom and holistic practices that in many ways offer an antidote to our increasingly fast-paced, technology-dependent and adrenaline-fueled world.

Okinawa is a home away from home for me. Even though I grew up on the mainland of Japan, Okinawan culture differs immensely and has offered me an incredible education in the roots of true wellness and self-care.  

The power of Okinawa was introduced to me when I was about 10-years-old. My grandfather was not feeling well because of a health condition, so his doctor recommended a stay in Okinawa for a few months – breathing in fresh air under the sun, sleeping well, relaxing in the warm weather, and eating nutritious food as much as possible. That was the first time I visited Okinawa and saw first-hand the healing process of his own health journey.

Fast forward a few decades later and the benefits of the Okinawan way of life came into play again. After living in Tokyo most of my life, I moved to the U.S. in my early 20s. Like many young adults away from home for the first time, I didn’t pay attention to my body internally or externally or realize how much rest it craved. I was simply not in tune with my body and soon began having a series of health problems.

 During the last summer of college in the U.S., I decided to visit Okinawa for a physical and emotional break. Even during that short period of time, I became very connected to myself and felt much better both physically and emotionally. It might sound like a cliché, but I felt like a door opened for me. I was fascinated by what Okinawa offered to my health and well-being, so as soon as I graduated from college, I moved to Okinawa to be part of its authentic culture, advance my knowledge of it and start my own health journey inspired by the everyday ways of Okinawan people and practices.

Being immersed in Okinawa, I immediately understood why the longevity rate and general happiness is so high among its people. Their way of living, the food they eat and their approach to happiness, and effective daily wellness rituals felt perfectly balanced in my eyes.

It has been well documented that in addition to high longevity, Okinawan people have historically had much lower cancer and disease rates in comparison to the rest of the world and through the holistic approach to living while there; my health conditions started to improve tremendously.

This approach is what we call “Mibyou care” in Japan, which focuses on treating the pre-existing condition of your disease by starting with the holistic approach first, so the disease won’t advance. Many people believe that Okinawan culture naturally promotes and practices Mibyou – a pre-symptomatic state of care through everyday life to balance the mind and body connection: a simple approach to reducing stress by taking in nutritious foods on a daily basis that contributes to health. 

My own experience of the healing process and practicing “Mibyou care” is definitely one of the reasons that inspired me to start Wellness East. I am not a medical expert; I am still living with my health conditions and I am always striving to strike a balance of sustainable daily wellness.  I know there are many people who, like me, are dealing with similar situations or would just like to optimize their daily wellness routine by incorporating traditional Okinawan culture. Through introducing authentic Okinawan traditions and their holistic approach, herbs and remedies, we can spotlight the contributions and rituals of the East, while promoting effective wellness rituals that are easy to incorporate into your everyday life.