On June 6, 2023, Director of LongeviQuest Japan, Mrs. Yumi Yamamoto, had the honor to interview Mrs. Shitsui Hakoishi, a 106-year-old active barber who lives in Tochigi Prefecture, about the secrets of her healthy longevity.
Mrs. Shitsui Hakoishi is known for her role as a torchbearer for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
Even now, at the age of 106, she still lifts the torch lightly to the height of her chest and recreates the pose she was in back then.
Mrs. Hakoishi, now 106, has a daily routine of about one hour of self-styled exercises, acupressure lymphatic massage, and walking.
She started this routine at the age of 70 to prevent aging. She massages pressure points in her ears and temple, massages her toes, and does flexibility exercises to relax her whole body, and then walks 500 steps around her home, shouting “1, 2, 3…” as she walks.
Shitsui Hakoishi was born on November 10, 1916, as the third daughter of five siblings born in a farmhouse in the village of Ouchi, Nasu County, Tochigi Prefecture (now the town of Nakagawa).
Because she was too small to ride a bicycle, she was unable to attend junior high school about 8 km from her home after graduating from elementary school, and decided to pursue a career as a barber on her father’s advice.
A neighbor introduced her to a barbershop in Tokyo, where she was trained as a live-in apprentice. At the age of 14, she left her parents for Tokyo.
In 1936, she passed the barber’s exam, and at the age of 22, she married another barber with whom she opened a store in Shinjuku, but it was destroyed in an air raid during the war.
The most painful experience in her life to date was the loss of her husband in World War II.
There was a time when she lost hope for life, but in 1953, she opened a barbershop again in her hometown in Tochigi, and this year marks the 70th anniversary of the opening.
When the store was at its busiest, customers lined up from 6:00 a.m. and stood at the store until around 10:00 p.m.
When the store opened in 1953, there was no running water or gas, so Hidemasa, the eldest son, who was in elementary school at the time, helped with fetching water for washing hair and boiling water with firewood, and the mother and son worked together to run the store.
Now, at the age of 106, she gives about three haircuts a month, mainly to her longtime customers.
Mrs. Hakoishi, who has remained active in the business, moves the scissors with a nimble hand, making her 106 years of age seem almost insignificant.
With the strength and flexibility she has developed through years of barbering and daily exercises, she is able to bend forward while standing without losing her position.
At 106 years of age, she uses a day service at a senior citizen welfare facility once a month, but she does not require daily assistance or nursing care, and is a model of healthy longevity.
We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Hakoishi-san for sharing many valuable stories with us, and to her oldest son and his wife for graciously accepting our visit.