One of the things about living in the countryside is that there are not very many young people around. There are however many "duties" that need to be done, so the young people often have to do quite a lot of the work. For the last two years I have been the representative responsible for taking birthday presents to all the residents in this immediate area who are over 88 years old. The city provides the presents (last year it was hard rice cakes, this year it is soap... both probably taste very similar!) and I just have to take them to the birthday girls (no old men around here...), wish them a happy birthday and go on my happy way. There are 52 residents in our area, more than half of them are over 65 and there are 6 women who are over 88 - the oldest turned 98 this year. There are only 5 children in our area......
I delivered the above present to a lady who is living alone and just turned 95. When I was younger I can remember thinking that anyone over the age of 60 could usually be found in a rocking chair, sipping tea and telling stories about how far they had to walk in the cold, without shoes to school when they were young. This lady is far from that image though - she is incredibly active, no mobility or hearing problems and was incredibly grateful for her present of soap. If I manage to make it till the ripe old age of 95 I would like to be just like her - perhaps not living alone, but just as active.
A few people have asked where we actually live... hard to find on a map, but we live in Oita prefecture which is in Kyushu. The blue marker in this google map is where we are.... if the technology is still working! Nearest station is Usa Station if you want to come and visit!
View Kiora Cottage in a larger map