It’s not exactly surprising that Japan is home to so many of the record-holders for longevity: As of 2017, nearly 68,000 people in Japan were over 100.
In her family, Chiyo Miyako was known simply as “the goddess.”
At age 117, she was not just their ancient, reigning monarch, but also the oldest person in the entire world.
This week, the Japanese Health Ministry announced that Miyako died July 22.
She was born in 1901, and her family said she loved sushi and eel, and enjoyed calligraphy. “They described her as a patient and kind person who brought happiness to those who met her,” Guinness World Records said.
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She claimed the title of world’s oldest living person not long before her death. Nabi Tajima, who preceded Miyako as the last oldest living person in the world, was also Japanese and also lived until 117. She died in April. The woman who is predicted to take over the title as the world’s oldest woman is also Japanese: Kane Tanaka is 115.
This week, the world’s oldest man, who also lives in Japan, celebrated his 113th birthday. As The Washington Post’s Ruby Mellen reported, Masazo Nonaka grew up in Ashoro, close to well-known hot springs, and points to those mineral-rich waters and his love of candy and sweets as the reason for his long-lasting health.
“He has spent most of his long retirement reading the newspaper after breakfast, watching samurai shows and sumo wrestling on television and looking after his pets, two cats named Haru and Kuro, who receive the table scraps when Nonaka doesn’t care for his dinner,” Mellen wrote.
It’s not exactly surprising that Japan is home to so many of the record-holders for longevity: As of 2017, nearly 68,000 people in Japan were over 100. And Japan has more people older than 65 than any other country in the world — a challenge for the economy as the birthrate has slowed drastically.
Guinness keeps track of the world’s oldest people, although there are some disputes over whether the titles are always given to the right people. In May, The Post’s Lindsey Bever wrote about Fredie Blom, a South African man who turned 114 this year. Guinness said that he was not being considered for the award because they require a substantial amount of paperwork and an investigation “to ensure our facts are correct.”
Still, the title of world’s oldest person ever goes to a cigarette-loving French woman named Jeanne Louise Calment, who lived to 122. She was born in 1875, before movies were made and before the Eiffel Tower was built. Her husband died at 77 after food poisoning from cherries, and she also outlived a daughter and a grandson.
Like Nonaka, she also loved sweets — especially chocolate. She died in 1997 after living what seemed like many lives: According to Guinness, she even learned to fence at 85, rode a bike until she was 100 and sang on an album at 120.