Keiro recently interviewed three centenarians in the community to share their wisdom and experience with us. We asked them their secret to longevity and tips they have for those who are turning 65.

Madame Fujima Kansuma (103)

“Don’t take your health for granted. Each day is a blessing and continue to share your gifts.”

Madame Fujima Kansuma
103rd birthday fujima kansuma
Celebrating her 103rd birthday

Madame Fujima Kansuma, the legendary Classical Japanese Dancer was born in 1918, and dance has been a major part of her life. At a young age she began training in Tokyo under Kikugoro Onoe VI, who was known as the god of Kabuki dance and Fujima Kanjuro VI, a renowned Kabuki choreographer. During World War II, she performed and taught Japanese dance throughout many internment camps. She has nurtured 50 natoris receiving their Fujima name and degree. (Natori is someone who has received a degree in Japanese dance and given a professional stage name)

Growing up, she found herself bedridden more than she wanted. Going through such an experience, she finds being able to teach and share dance with her beloved students for over 80 years an unbelievable gift. As advice to those who just turned 65, “Don’t take your health for granted. Each day is a blessing and continue to share your gifts.”

Ted Yasunaga (100)

“Take it easy and don’t worry too much. You need to relax!”

Ted Yasunaga
ted yasunaga portrait

Ted is a Nikkei Senior Gardens resident who recently celebrated his milestone birthday. Despite such an accomplishment, he shared, “I’m not ready to die yet. I do exercise and walk.” He is a WWII veteran and was part of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. After the war, he was a graphic artist for makeup boxes and packages in Chicago. Even after his milestone birthday, he continues to be independent, managing his own finances, and staying up-to-date on the latest news, especially about sports.

While he is diligent in keeping his health and mobility, he does say a carefree heart is what made him reach his milestone birthday. “It’s to not worry and being lazy that helps longevity. If you’re lazy, you can relax.” When asked about his advice to others who turned 65, he said “Take it easy and do not worry. I don’t worry much. You need to relax!”

Sakaye Aratani (102)

I think patience is very important in our daily life. And being grateful.

Sakaye Aratani
linda and sakaye aratani
Sakaye with her daughter, Linda

Sakaye Aratani is the wife of late George Aratani. At 102, she continues to find ways to live each day to its fullest. “I’ve been very fortunate in having a wonderful life,” she shared. She said that her family with great-grandchildren is a large part of what keeps her going. Her curiosity to explore new things seems to also keep her busy, including earring creations, which she began during the pandemic. She enjoys sharing and giving out her creations to those around her. “I don’t know what inspired me, but I thought I’d like to do something creative!” she exclaimed.

When asked about advice to 65 years old, she shared “I wish I was 65… chuckles. I think patience is very important in our daily life. And being grateful.” Throughout the interview, she constantly shared the many things in life she’s grateful for such as her family and good health.