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One of the most appealing aspects of Japan is the opportunity to see traditional culture still thrive in a modern day that is constantly changing. An annual example of that is March 3rd, the Hinamatsuri, or Girl's Day. Ornamental dolls called Hina-Ningyo are displayed on shelves to wish for the healthy growth of girls. Those wishes must have worked out for Masako Wakamiya, as the 81-year-old Japanese woman learned programming to develop a Hinamatsuri smart phone app in just six months, to help other elderly Japanese people learn smart phone games!
Source: Goto Dolls
Wakamiya, a lover of making things by hand and from scratch, reportedly got the idea to make the app when an elderly acquaintance sadly confessed to her that they "couldn't enjoy digital devices the way young people do". So Wakamiya asked Katsujiro Koizumi, a part-time lecturer at Tohoku Bunka Gakuen University, to help her out. He taught her, and encouraged her to make it herself. Wakamiya says "It lit a fire in my personality that finds interest in everything."
The app is called Hinadan, with Hina being the dolls in Hinamatsuri, and dan meaning "tier". Players need to rely on quick swiping and recognition skills to position 12 assorted Hinamatsuri dolls onto their correct positions on four separate shelves. While perhaps the quickness needed to play many popular smart phone games isn't something user-friendly to the elderly, the Hinamatsuri-theme and setup serve as a great vehicle for Japanese seniors to comfortable learn to love new tech.
Here's Wakamiya demonstrating the game on her own.
And here she is giving an inspiring TED talk.
Wakamiya has experience making a homepage before, but had to read specialty texts and receive long distance instruction from Koizumi. Her work definitely paid off, as she says it was "the ultimate in training my brain!"Passion and creativity just don't age.
The app is available from iTunes, although you may need a Japanese account to get it on your phone.