Naoko Ogata said her secret to long life is praying, eating vegetables and having a good family.
Ogata celebrated her 101st birthday Wednesday surrounded by her family, residents of the Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital, and friends from the community.
“Grandma continues to be actively involved with activities here at KVMH,” said Josie Pablo, Hawaii Health Systems Corporation Kauai Region director of recreation. “She is out of bed daily, and enjoys participating in bingo by calling out the numbers. She is known as ‘Miss Bingo.’ She also participates in the currrent events group, and loves to listen to jazz, classical and Hawaiian music.”
The birthday girl turned a deaf ear to Pablo’s description, instead quietly singing “Hele on to Kauai” with Israel Kamakawiwaole in the background.
Pablo noted that Ogata is the oldest living resident in the HHSC Kauai Region.
Ogata was born in Honolulu at the Queen’s Hospital on Nov. 28, 1917. Her name “Naoko” means “moon and mountain.”
After attending Liliuokalani School on Oahu, and graduating with a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Ogata returned to teach third and fourth grade at Liliuokalani School.
She married Yoshiharu Ogata when she was 22 years old, and had two children — Jon Ogata of Honolulu and Joy Miyamoto, who lives on Kauai — both being in attendance, along with neice Sandie Tsukiyama of Honolulu, for the birthday celebration that included a potluck from the community.
Ogata loved to sew, Pablo noting that she sewed all her clothes as well as those for her family.
She also loved to cook, her favorite dishes being nishime, chop suey, apple pie and lilikoi pie. Ogata also sported a green thumb, loving to garden and grow flowers like zinnia and petunia, and vegetables like lettuce, cucumbers, beets and carrots.
“Do you have anything to say today?” Pablo queried the birthday girl.
“No,” was the terse reply from the person who always contributes to the current events group.
“That’s all right,” Pablo said. “Today is special. Do you know how many candles you’re blowing out?”
“One hundred” was the short reply.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.