At 100 years old, Fumi Toyama is still sharp, goes on walks “for her body,” does all her own housework, and says “Smiles are a nutrient for the body”

At 100 years old, Fumi Toyama is still sharp, goes on walks “for her body,” does all her own housework, and says “Smiles are a nutrient for the body”

“Giving brings more happiness than receiving,” says a smiling Fumi Toyama. August 4, Senaha, Yomitan

August 17, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo
By Chie Tome

Yomitan – “I wonder what fun things today will bring?” The smiling face saying this is none other than 100-year old Fumi Toyama, who lives by herself in Senaha, Yomitan. While she moves slowly about the house with the help of a cane, her mind still runs at full speed. “I suppose conversation is the key to a long life.” At 100, her surprisingly vigorous voice reverberates through her parlor.

Fumi was born in 1920, the oldest of eight siblings. From a young age, she was pressed to help out around the house, “I don’t have memories of playing. The reason my legs are sturdy even now is thanks to my strict mother.” She says she only went to school for the six years of elementary school.

Fumi married at age 20, however her husband was conscripted into the military for the Battle of Okinawa, and was killed a few days after the birth of her oldest daughter. Working jobs such as selling insurance and collecting electrical bill fees, she was able to make a living and raise three children by herself. “In any case, we never had much money, and there was a lot of hardship.” She also at times had to borrow money for her children’s schooling and to invest in their future. However, in order to ensure her children had all the opportunities available to them, she grit her teeth and pressed forward.

By the time her kids were grown she was in her 40’s, and started focusing her attention on election activities such as serving as the chairwoman of the Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) Chubu regional women’s association. She has maintained her belief that, “Politics have a direct link to everyday life, so you must think very hard and vote,” and she boasted that she has voted in every election possible, from national elections to ward mayor elections.
In her 50’s she enjoyed travelling abroad, and at 67 she started to learn to play the koto. She pointed to a picture of Osamu Hayashi on her wall, of whom she is a big fan, and said, “There’s no time like the present. If there is something to do, ‘ima deshou’ (do it now!)” with a playful smile.

Living by herself, she asserted, “I do all the housework and cleaning myself for the sake of my body. I have family nearby, so I am fine.” She has been blessed with 10 grandchildren, and 22 great-grandchildren. She enjoys nothing more than when her family gathers at her house every Saturday. They enjoy meals together like curry rice and rafute. Her oldest son Shoken, 80, said, “Since long ago she has had a serious demeanor with a passion for education. All of the hardship she experienced has made her compassionate and kind. I want to keep seeing her healthy, for even one more day.”

“Good fortune will come to those who smile, and smiles are a nutrient for the body.” Fumi said, “I want to make that my ‘motto for life.’”
(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)

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