Active Grandpa Turns 100 “I wish I were 18 or 19 Again!” To the Fields Again Today Mr. Yamajiro of Ie

Active Grandpa Turns 100 “I wish I were 18 or 19 Again!” To the Fields Again Today	Mr. Yamajiro of Ie

100-year-old Yoshio Yamajiro hard at work, holding his hoe. (April 26, Nishiue, Ie Village)

April 30, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo
By Yukito Kinjo

Ie – Mr. Yoshio Yamajiro of Nishiue, Ie Village drives his beloved tractor, humming a tune. Yoshio, who was born on April 10, 1920 and turned 100 years old this year, is an active “farmer-grandpa.” Hard of hearing and with mild pain in his lower body, Yoshio is otherwise healthy. His memory is good and he is physically strong. Back muscles strengthened through daily work in the fields, Yoshio stands tall. He is an energetic and cheerful elder. Until a few years ago, he drove a Kei truck and tractor, but now skillfully operates an electric mobility scooter.

When U.S. armed forces landed on Iejima on April 16, 1945, Yoshio was a member of the Boeitai (Defense Corps), picking people up, dropping them off, or carrying bags for his commander. At a festival to pray for peace held by the village at the Monument of Hokon, Yoshio offered flowers as a representative of his fellow soldiers.

Yoshio’s wife of more than 70 years, Midori, passed away at 99 years old in January of last year. Three years earlier, she was admitted to a special nursing home for the elderly in Ie Village. From then on, Yoshio would make time between his work in the fields to visit the nursing home three times every day, morning, afternoon, and evening, to assist with meals. The sight of the nonagenarian lovebirds brought ease to those around them.

In the fields around his home, Yoshio raises crops such as sugarcane, shima rakkyo (island shallot), carrots, and kabocha squash. He starts the day’s work at 7:30 a.m. and works until evening, spreading fertilizer, weeding, and more. “At my age, a lot of people are bed-ridden. But no one else will do the work!” Yoshio boasts. His seventh son, Yoshihiro, who is 60, says, “He’s a workaholic; he won’t stop moving around even if you tell him to take a break. He does his own cooking and laundry. He’s doing great. All we do is stop by once in a while to see how he’s doing.”

Yoshio has more than 40 children and grandchildren. They had rented out the district community center on the 10th to celebrate his 100th birthday, but had to cancel due to the spread of novel coronavirus. Yoshio jokes, “I’m still healthy! I wish I could go back to when I was 18 or 19 though.” With that, he heads back to his work in the fields.

(English translation by T&CT and Ellen Huntley)

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