World’s Oldest Man and Woman: Both Japanese

June 29, 2007 at 5:35 pm 2 comments

Remember when you were a kid, and birthday parties were a source of pure joy? You got presents, songs, cake, and, best of all, you were the center of attention?

Then sometime around, say, 30, birthdays started to creep up on you, unwanted and without warning. The cards people sent had a distinctive “neener, neener” vibe to them, and the last thing you wanted was to be the center of attention on that particular day.

Now imagine living to 111!


That’s the age Tomoji Tanabe, a resident of Miyakonojo (a southern city in Japan, on the island of Kyushu, celebrated this year. And talk about being the center of attention: on June 19th, he received a certificate from the Guinness Book of World Records for his accomplishment as the world’s oldest man.

As for the world’s oldest woman? She is also Japanese and also lives in Kyushu! Her name is Yone Minagawa, and she was born in 1893 (making her 114).

According to the Associated Press, “The number of Japanese living beyond 100 has almost quadrupled in the past 10 years, with the once-exclusive centenarian club expected to exceed 28,000 this year.”

What’s their secret?

Some claim it’s a healthy diet consisting mainly of vegetables and fish, in portions that are half the size of those typically eaten by Westerners; Tanabe himself attributes it to the fact that he drinks milk and avoids alcohol and tobacco. Others believe that soy reduces heart disease, noodles aid the digestive track, and tea provides antioxidants; each is prominent in Japanese meals.


For more theories, you an always check out the book “Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat: Secrets of My Mother’s Tokyo Kitchen” by Naomi Moriyama. After all, Japanese women have the lowest obesity rates in the world, and their average lifespan is 86. Japanese men typically live to the age of 79, which ain’t too shabby, either.

Sarah S.

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Entry filed under: Japanese Business, Japanese Culture.

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June 2007


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