When they take the stage at venues in places like Singapore and Tokyo, they are greeted with enthusiastic applause and screams of excitement. They are one of the hottest pop groups in Japan and the median age of 84. Look on YouTube for videos feature KGB84 and you’ll be tapping your toes to the catchy, energetic dance tunes with a Japanese folk vibe performed by this all-women group, which also includes a centenarian.

In tradition Japanese dress, they move with confidence and grace as they sing about dancing, enjoying the natural beauty of their homeland and having a good time. The group has a minimum age of 80 for any would-be members, now totalling about 33 singers and dancers. Local musician, Kikuo Tsuchida, started the group after he was inspired by the vivaciousness of some of the island’s long-time residents.

“members credit their high energy to something the Japanese call ‘Ikigai’ or
‘sense of life.’”

In 2015, KGB84 (named as a nod to the popular Japanese pop group, AKB48) signed their first record deal, preceded by a sold-out tour across Japan. They can boast a hit single, “Come On and Dance, Kohama Island,” and a viral video to match. (Watch it here.)

The members hail from Kohama, an island southwest of Okinawa. Their geographic origin is significant. Residents of Okinawa are well known for their extraordinary life spans among the highest in the world. They can boast 50 centenarians per 100,000 people.

While good genes and a healthy lifestyle definitely play a role, the members credit their high energy to something the Japanese call “ikigai” or “sense of life.” It allows them to fill their days with rehearsals and time spent working in sugar cane fields alongside their families.

The vitality of the area’s most mature citizens has piqued interest of researchers, including Dr. Makoto Suzuki, a cardiologist and a geriatrician. He studied the population to find out the key to their longevity and published the results in his Okinawa Centenarian Study. He discovered that they eat primarily local foods like seaweed, bitter melon, fish and sweet potato. Fresh flavourful ingredients diminish the need for salt, which can be detrimental to health.

That’s good news for fans of KGB84, who are charmed by these incredible talent women. They’ll be entertaining audiences for many years to come.