A supercentenarian from Japan, Kane Tanaka, was confirmed as the oldest living person last year at age 116 and 66 days. Now, she’s extended her reign in the Guinness World Records for another year, turning 117 on January 2 at a nursing home in Fukuoka.
Below, Tanaka received her certificate from Guinness World Records, cheerfully smiling and waving. The experience was an emotional one, as she cried and clasped her hands together in thanks.
At the time, she said the ceremony was the most enjoyable thing she had ever experienced.
“The world’s oldest? Thank you so much,” she said.
Tanaka was born in 1903, the year that Orville and Wilbur Wright lifted off the first successful airplane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
According to reports, she wakes up each morning at 6 a.m. and goes to bed by 9 p.m. Her favorite pastimes include studying math, writing poetry, and playing Othello. She regularly beats the staff at the strategy game.
This year, she wasn’t interested in advising about keys to longevity. Instead, she was intent on getting her fill of sweet birthday cake.
“Tasty,” she said with a smile. “I want some more.”
In the past, Tanaka has suggested that she might owe her long life of good health to family, sleep, and hope. Her family attributed her longevity to her faith in God.
Reuters reported that people over 100-years-old are becoming more and more common in Japan. Today, at least 69,000 people in Japan are now centenarians. The vast majority are women, with only 9,000 men.
Meanwhile, this is the first year that the birth rate in Japan has dropped so low since 1899.
“The number of babies born in Japan fell an estimated 5.9% last year to fewer than 900,000 for the first time since the government started compiling data in 1899, according to Japan’s welfare ministry,” stated Reuters.
It seems like there is a special recipe for old age in southern Japan. Newsweek reported:
“The island of Okinawa, to the south of the mainland, is particularly noted for the long lives of its inhabitants. The ratio of centenarians there is one of the highest in the world, at around 50 per 100,000 people. Nicknamed the “land of the immortals,” it is one of five so-called “Blue Zones” in which people live far longer than average. The other Blue Zones are the Italian island of Sardinia, California’s Loma Linda, Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula and the Greek island of Ikaria.”
A woman named Lucille Randon from France is the next-oldest living validated supercentenarian, according to statistics from the Gerontology Research Group.
Unverified accounts show numerous individuals who may have lived past 120 years-old, most of whom come from Japan.
Although there are many unverified accounts of people living older, the oldest fully authenticated age for any human is 122 years and 164 days. That title belongs to France’s Jeanne Louise Calment, born in 1875 on February 21. That was 14 years before the Eiffel Tower was constructed.
A year after Calment’s birth, the first Bell telephone was patented.
Like Tanaka, Calment loved sweets, particularly enjoying chocolate, eating almost two pounds a week according to Guinness. She remained in good health despite smoking from the age of 21 to 117-years-old. Right up until her final day in 1997, she was clear thinking and famous for her wit and sense of humor.
Calment was featured in a movie about the artist, Van Gogh when she was 114, making her the oldest film actress ever. When she was a girl, she worked at an art supply shop in Arles France, which was owned by her father, and sold painting canvases to the now world-famous artist.
“He was ugly as sin, had a vile temper, and smelled of booze,” she said of the artist.
See the clip from the movie below:
The world’s oldest verified person was also a recording artist at age 120 on a CD called “Maitresse Du Temps (Time’s Mistress).”
Featured image: Wright Brothers’ test flight via Wikimedia Commons by Hungnguyena (CC BY-SA 4.0)