The Myth of Average: Active Senior Citizens in the Aomori Prefecture in Japan




Ethnography, Postpositivism, Older adulthood, Physical literacy, Physical activity


Japan is known for the highest life expectancy in the world, but there are regional variations within the country. Aomori, located at the northern tip of Japan’s mainland, is the prefecture characterized by heavy snow in winter and the lowest average life expectancies for women and men. Their short life expectancies have been attributed to excessive sodium intake and physical inactivity. In this short-term reflexive ethnography, I take the postpositivist stance and set up a strawman claim of “all citizens of Aomori Prefecture are physically inactive” in order to falsify it by providing a counter example. The counter example is a community of very senior citizens over 80 years of age who are physically and socially active in playing indoor golf. My purpose in writing this research report is to share an encounter with a unique community through a contextualized physical activity setting and a reflection on issues related to the community’s survival. The theoretical model of physical literacy has informed my observations, conversations, and reflections that are narrated in the impressionist mode. My narrative demonstrates that there are physically active senior citizens in the Aomori Prefecture. Moreover, my interview with an organizer uncovered that the senior golf players were facing challenges to participate in and sustain the golf program in the future. 

Author Biography

Motohide Miyahara, Institute of Ars Vivendi, Ritsumeikan University Japan Centre for Evidence Based Practice

Freelance Independent Scholar based in New Zealand


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