The average lifespan of an individual is 60-70 years. But there’s one lady who has outlived this categorization and has been living for more than a century.
Guinness World Records has named Kane Tanaka as the World’s Oldest Living Person and World’s Oldest Living Woman two years ago on the 9th of March, 2019. The old lady became the longest-living Japanese person after crossing 117 years, 260 days. She is the third person recorded to have lived for this long. On the 2nd of January, 2022, Kane celebrated her 119th birthday.
As of now, Tanaka has survived two world wars, two global pandemics, and five Japanese eras. The old woman was born six months before the birth of the famous British author, George Orwell. Interestingly, it is the same year when the Wright Brothers made their maiden-powered flight.
Who is Kane Tanaka?
Kane Tanaka was born in 1903 to the Ota family, close to the end of the Meiji period. The family lived near Fukuoka prefecture and had nine children. Tanaka was the seventh child of the couple. Tanaka married her cousin, Hideo, in 1922. She was only 19 years old. She began working at the noodle shop with her husband. The couple started their family and birthed four children together. They also adopted a daughter.
Tanaka took a more prominent role at work as her husband was drafted into military services during the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937. The husband continued serving military till 1939. The lady continued to work till the age of 63 years. Her husband passed away in 1993 when he was 90 years old.
Following the death of her husband, Tanaka herself experienced severe health issues. She underwent various treatments to treat her conditions over time. At the age of 35, she was treated for paratyphoid fever. She also had pancreatic cancer surgery when she was just 45 years old. At the age of 103, she underwent colorectal cancer surgery.
Kane’s second son, along with his wife, wrote a book on her titled In Good and Bad Times.
Since September 2018, Tanaka has been residing in a nursing home in Higashiku, Fukuoka. Her routine includes waking up early in the morning and studying subjects like mathematics. She is fond of calligraphy. She also likes playing a board game, Othello. As of now, her family includes five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
What are the Secrets to Kane Tanaka’s Longevity?
Want to know the secrets of such a long life despite undergoing two cancer surgeries? Keep reading.
- The old woman once stated that she likes to keep her mind active. She is an early riser and likes waking up at 6 am every morning at the nursing home.
- Her love for mathematics is not restricted to studying the subject alone; she also likes to play number puzzles to keep her brain active. The routine continues for the afternoon hour.
- Kane was actively involved in running the grocery store of the family till the age of 103 years. She was preparing to carry the Olympic torch ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, now postponed because of the Covid outbreak.
- She loves having fizzy drinks. According to her great-granddaughter, carbonated drinks and chocolates happen to be the guilty pleasures of the centenarian. She likes finding joy in little things like enjoying her favorite meals, which keep her happy.
- Tanaka has revealed that her family, faith in God, and good habits like sleeping well and being positive and hopeful have helped her live so long. She also attributes her long life to eating good food and practicing mathematics.
- She is a pro at the expert classic board game called Othello. She has beaten her own nursing staff in the game many times.
- Although she has a very supportive, caring, and loving family, Tanaka lives in a care home. She met her great-granddaughter last time in December. Since social distancing and isolation are practiced, she barely saw her family members.
- She says that she has the honor to be a citizen of a country which already has the highest life expectancy rate worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, the average life expectancy in Japan ranges up to 84.2 years. The factors such as care of the old in the society and family, low-stress level, and culturally-rich society contribute to such long living of the residents of Japan.
- Kane Tanaka also states that another secret of her long life is her peaceful and undisturbed sleep.
The secret to the long life of the Japanese also lies in the fact that they never stuff themselves with food. To them, eating until they are 80 percent full is more than enough. Their diet comprises all the healthy foods such as fermented foods, greens, roots, and fish. The rich diet marks a high intake of Omega-3 fatty acids that protect against various illnesses and diseases, including heart diseases.
Compared to the people of other countries, the Japanese have a better quality of life. Their sense of community is admirable. In Japan, eating socially is the norm. Science suggests that eating socially reduces your stress level. Daily activity levels in the country are also high. The elderly residents of Japan continue to play a vital role in the community events and the countrywide culture that values the elderly.
Japan – A Country with the Oldest People Living
Kane Tanaka is not the only Japanese individual to be recognized as the oldest living person worldwide. According to the Guinness World Records, the world’s oldest man was also from Japan. Masazo Nonaka was 113-years old. He succumbed to death recently in January following old age and illness.
The secret to a long life is happiness, good health, and an active mind. It is good to follow a healthy lifestyle. Besides adding more years to life, such a lifestyle also improves your quality of life. Follow a routine, read good books, eat healthily, spend enough time with your family, and take good sleep.
For more on health, fitness, and lifestyle – stay in touch.