Dan Buettner, Expedition Leader: In America we tend to break our adult life into two phases: work and retirement. But in Okinawa there is one word that encompasses everything, ikigai (eek-y-guy). It means the reason for which you wake up in the morning, or sense of purpose. Experts tell us that people with a strong sense of purpose have boosted immune systems, have lower stress hormones, and they are able to grapple with the difficulties of life better than those who don't.
When we met Kame Ogido, we figured her ikigai was picking seaweed, instead, it was her friends, and the various activities she does with them.
In Okinawa, ikigai is a very personal experience, and it manifests itself in many ways.
In the traditional Okinawan language the word retirement doesn't even exist. What these people can teach us is the importance of having a strong reason to live. That reason as it turns out may even help you live longer.