Rethinking Successful Aging from the Perspective of an Aging Japanese Statue of Jizō with Replaceable Heads


  • Kuniko Fujiwara Kyoto University



successful aging, Jizō, Japanese religion, ontology, self, interdependence


Modern medical technology has allowed us to hope for long lives while also making us anxious about being bedridden or suffering from long-term dementia. Maintaining independence into the twilight years, especially after retirement, has become a focal point of public and scholarly discussion. The concept of “successful aging” has been associated with the image of “independent” individuals fulfilling their social responsibilities and engaging in useful social activities. Scholars and researchers have attempted to grasp what makes older adults feel successful in their later lives. They seem to have paid little attention, however, to ontological issues such as identity and self-interrogation about the meaning of our lives, which we might ponder at the prospect of our death regardless of our condition or degree of “success.” This paper deals with these ontological questions in relation to “successful aging,” arguing that we are not very “independent” or “free” at any stage of our lives, and demonstrating that modifying our model of human nature will permit us to embrace the human aging process more fully.