Hiroshi Ogasawara, 68, retired at 60 after 38 years with a trading company and thought, “What now?” Should he look for another job? That was one possibility, but a little research at a Hello Work job center established that even if he found something, his earnings above a certain minimum would reduce his pension, so what was the point?
“So I thought,” he tells Shukan Shincho (Dec 30 – Jan 6), “never mind money, I’ll just do what I want to do.”
He’d always loved movies and theater, had once dreamed of being an actor, but such dreams are for the pre-responsible young... or – why not? – for the post-responsible elderly, it suddenly occurred to him. With growing excitement he located a company that engages movie extras. And that’s been his life ever since – his “second life,” you might say.
Second life begins at 60, Shukan Shincho proclaims, and profiles people who prove it. Aging needn’t be the grim business it is generally made out to be. It can be, and increasingly is in this country struggling to cope with a demographic aging outpacing anything the world has ever yet seen, a fulfillment of all those youthful dreams and ambitions that got sidetracked in the compulsive rush up the career ladder.
At first, Ogasawara found it hard to be cast as anything other than a body in a crowd scene. He stuck with it, though, and in time stumbled on bigger parts. He’s played a homeless man and a company president, a coal miner and a fortune teller – “roles I never even came close to in real life.”
It’s not all roses – filming ads for winter clothes in mid-summer heat is no picnic, for instance, and the pay, maybe 100,000 yen for a month’s toil, is hardly princely. But imagining being 68 and waking up wondering who you’re going to be today. It seems a source of stimulation worth tapping.
There are as many second lifestyles as there are individuals, Shukan Shincho says. Tetsuo Wakasugi, 63, played guitar in a college band once upon a time. He graduated and went to work for Sony Music, but office work is office work, and music, the company name notwithstanding, is remote from it. Retiring three years ago, he retuned his guitar and now plays regularly at a Tokyo live house, feeling like a kid again with his whole future ahead of him, when he is onstage.
Akira Sugita, 83, retired at 75 and began attending drama lessons. His fellow students were fellow retirees, “brimming with enthusiasm.” A few years ago they formed an amateur acting company. With 21 members each kicking in YY4000 a month, they were able to hire a professional actor as leader. Once a year they perform at their home base near Kyoto; last October they appeared on Broadway. The English lines were difficult, Sugita admits, but somehow they managed.
Which just goes to show – aging might actually be something to look forward to.© Japan Today