Masako Wakamiya

By on Jul 21, 2017 in People

81-year old Masako Wakamiya is proving to the world that age is really just a number.Masako

At a TEDx conference in Tokyo, a lively, energetic, self proclaimed “chatterbox” Masako professed angst at the thought of retiring at age 60–the requirement in Japan. It’s why after 43 years working at a bank, she decided to teach herself how to use a computer.

In those days computers were not the intuitive, user friendly machines we have today. Masako recalled the three months it took her to set up and learn how to operate her computer.

“My face was covered in sweat and tears,” she described.

That same determination is what lead Masako to create her own app. But not just any app. Masako decided to create one specifically for elderlies after noticing a shortage of fun apps aimed at people her age.

“We easily lose games when playing against young people, since our finger movements can’t match their speed,” explains Masako.

Her app, Hinadan, is an iOS game based on the traditional Japanese festival Hinamatsuri, or Doll’s Day. During the festival, ornamental dolls representing the emperor and his followers are dressed in traditional garb and displayed in a specific arrangement.

The game aims to teach players the correct positions by having 12 dolls that players must situate properly on a display with four tiers. Once the challenge has been successfully completed, a congratulatory message pops up.

“I [would] encourage [old people] to start having fun experiences using computers,” she explained.

When she is not teaching computer classes or blogging, Masako leads the Mellow Club, a community she founded for retirees that aims to encourage active aging. As if all this was not impressive enough, she also runs the Mellow Denshoukan, a digital archive of personal experiences as told by World War II survivors.

Masako shows she means when she says “you don’t have to be a professional. If [only] you have creativity, if you have a playful mind”