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Modern and Traditional Japanese Culture: The Psychology of Buddhism, Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Manga, Anime and Shinto. 在日イギリス人男性による日本文化論.

Monday, June 18, 2012


"If you want to live a long time: Look in the Mirror"

"If you want to live a long time: Look in the Mirror" by timtak
Images copyright Dr. Nagumo and the publishers
Dr. NAGUMO Yoshinori is a medical practioner and popular author of several books (e.g. Nagumo, 2009, 2012a, 2012b) on how to be healthy and youthful. Many of the books show the 56 year old doctor Dr. Nagumo looking, in his own words in the title of the book above left "20 years younger". These books recommended a healthy diet, remaining hungry, excercise and drinking burdock tea.

The Japanese nation as a whole are one of the healthiest on the planet, with the highest life expentancy in the world (Wikipedia, 2012). Is it the burdock tea?

I think that Dr. Nagumo provides the answer in this latest book, entitled "If you want to live a long time: Look in the mirror." As argued repeatedly on this blog (see Heine, Takemoto, Moskalenko, Lasaleta, & Henrich, 2008) the Japanese are as if always in front of a mirror since they simulate an autoscopic view of themselves. Humans in general have this capability to see themselves from the outside in (Blanke & Metzinger, 2009). Somehow Westerners manage to forget how they look, which is why in some states of the US, one in three are obese (Witters, 2011).

In recommending autoscopy (looking at yourself) and burdock tea, Dr. Nagumo is recommening a Japanese way of keeping healthy to the Japanese. Someone should translate Dr. Nagumo's book into English. Additionally someone might also write a book in Japanese recommending Anglophone health-ways to the Japanese. Despite the fact that the Japanese look 20 years younger than Americans, they only live 4 years longer (82 vs 78: Wikipedia, 2010).

How can this be? The Japanese have a strong tendency to health ignore information that they can not see in the mirror, which is why approximately twice as many Japanese than Americans smoke cigarettes. My health advice to the Japanese woudl be to either (1) read health statistics and believe them, or better (2) think of ways of making invisible health risks visible, e.g. by the use of pulmonary endoscopy to take and show photographs of Japanese smokers blackend lungs to their owners. That would encourage them to quit smoking.

Blanke, O., & Metzinger, T. (2009). Full-body illusions and minimal phenomenal selfhood. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13(1), 7–13. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2008.10.003
Heine, S. J., Takemoto, T., Moskalenko, S., Lasaleta, J., & Henrich, J. (2008). Mirrors in the head: Cultural variation in objective self-awareness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(7), 879–887. Retrieved from www2.psych.ubc.ca/~henrich/Website/Papers/Mirrors-pspb4%5...
Wikipedia contributors. (2012). List of countries by life expectancy. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=List_of_countries_by_l...
Nagumo, Y. 南雲吉則. (2009). 錆びない生き方. PHP研究所.
Nagumo, Y. 南雲吉則. (2012). 長生きしたい人は「鏡」を見なさい. 朝日新聞出版.
Nagumo, Y. 南雲吉則. (2012). 20歳若く見えるために私が実践している100の習慣. 中経出版.
Witters, D. (2011). One in Three Adults Obese in America’s Most Obese States. In A. Gallup (Ed.), The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion 2010 (pp. 262 263). Rowman & Littlefield. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/141734/one-three-adults-obese-america-three-obese-states.aspx

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This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.