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Many people defy their age by means of getting better as they grow older. Masako Wakamiya —a grandmother who is also lovingly called “Ma-chan”—from Japan, is a living testimony that age is just a number and that it is never too late to create something that is innovative! Masako Wakamiya is an 82-yr-old who decided to get into mobile app development. TedXTokyo said that she and her friends created a website called “Mellow Club” in 1999. The club was a group ‘for the aged and by the aged’. Markedly, it has many active members in Japan.

Masako Wakamiya and Her Bold Idea

Mellow Denshoukan—or “Mellow Club” in English—is a digital archive to share personal experiences of those who have witnessed World War II and the post-war period. Now, Wakamiya decided to expand the project to mobile. So, she developed a mobile application called “Hinadan”. Hinadan is a game application for seniors or what she calls “people her of age”. The game is a one-of-a-kind innovative application.

Hinadan is played by trying to arrange dolls from a Japanese doll festival. Wakamiya’s idea came from combining “Hina”—traditional Japanese Emperor and Empress dolls—and the word “dan”. The real aim of her application is to educate people on how to dress up dolls in a correct manner. The app is also a way to prepare individuals in Japan for Hinamatsuri or “Girls’ Day”. Notably, Masako Wakamiya recognizes that people are not aware of the Hinas’ proper arrangement.

A Mobile App for Seniors, Developed by an 82-Year-Old

At the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in California, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that Masako Wakamiya was the oldest developer in attendance. Her mobile application also received five stars in the App Store.

According to Wakamiya, “The internet gave me wings. Those wings took me to a wide world I never knew before I used a computer.” She made sure to teach herself how to operate a personal computer in order to stay connected with family, friends and the world. Through 6 months of attending a computer class, she discovered the ins and outs of Swift programming. Swift programming is easy to learn, but it is also a very powerful programming language. (Apple Inc. made the method for iOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, and Linux.)

a photo of an elderly woman using a tablet that has the mobile app that Masako Wakamiya created
Hinadan is the brainchild of the 82-yr-old developer.

Indeed, Hinadan is the brainchild of the 82-yr-old developer. Masako Wakamiya has proven that old age does not stop people from cracking difficult codes. Because of her dedication, she didn’t let the digital age slow her down or stop. Instead, she dove right in and made the most of it.

The Bold Bottom Line

Masako Wakamiya shares: “Most applications are for young people, and people of my generation find them boring. As we age, our eyesight gets worse, and we can’t move our fingers the way we’d like to. This game is designed so that even people with these problems can enjoy it.” The app is now widely accepted and enjoyed by many elderly women. The 82-yr-old developer also encourages seniors to be more involved with today’s innovative technology. This success makes Wakamiya do and want more. She plans to develop another app, which she thinks will be beneficial to an even wider range of people.

Indeed, Wakamiya proves that age is no barrier to creativity or innovation—even when it comes to digital technology. The information age is for everyone and by everyone.

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