Local officials announced Monday that a Japanese woman who was certified as the world’s oldest person had died at the age of 119.
Kane Tanaka was born in the southwestern Fukuoka region of Japan on January 2, 1903, the same year that the Wright brothers flew for the first time and Marie Curie became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize.
Tanaka, who lived in a nursing home and enjoyed board games, solving math problems, soda, and chocolate, was in relatively good health until recently.
Tanaka used to own and operate a noodle shop and a rice cake shop when she was younger.
She married Hideo Tanaka in 1922 and gave birth to four children while also adopting a fifth.
She had intended to participate in the torch relay for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 in a wheelchair, but the pandemic prevented her from doing so.
Tanaka’s family members said she hoped to live to be 120 on her 119th birthday on January 2.
When Tanaka was named the oldest person alive in 2019, she was asked about the time in her life when she was the happiest.
The woman, who could barely speak at the time, replied with a single word: ‘Now.’
Tanaka’s daily routine included a 6:00 a.m. wake-up call and afternoons spent studying mathematics and practicing calligraphy, according to reports at the time.
‘A game of Othello is one of Kane’s favorite pastimes, and she’s become an expert at the classic board game, frequently beating rest-home staff,’ Guinness said.
After Tanaka died on April 19, local governor Seitaro Hattori praised her life.
‘I was looking forward to seeing Kane-san on this year’s Respect for the Aged Day (a Japanese national holiday celebrated in September) and celebrating with her favorite soda and chocolate,’ he said in a statement released on Monday.
‘The news has deeply saddened me.’
Tanaka was born a year before the start of the Russo-Japanese War, and she spent her childhood in Japan’s Meiji era, which is considered a formative period of modernization.
When she was 116 in 2019, Guinness World Records recognized her as the world’s oldest living person.
At 117 years and 261 days old in 2020, she became Japan’s oldest person.
Tanaka married her cousin in 1922 at the age of 19 and the couple ran a noodle shop called Tanaka Mochiya that sold udon, rice cakes, and zenzai, according to the Guinness World Records website.
Her eldest son and husband were both soldiers in the Second Sino-Japanese War, which began in 1937.
Ms Tanaka, who is 90 years old, had cataract surgery. When she was 103, the world record holder had colorectal cancer surgery.
According to World Bank data, Japan has the world’s oldest population, with around 28% of the population aged 65 and up.
Other people, however, could have been even older than Ms Tanaka.
Late last year, China’s oldest person died at the age of 135, claiming to be the world’s oldest person.
Alimihan Seyiti, a native of Komuxerik in Shule County in the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, was born on June 25, 1886, during the imperial Qing dynasty, though this has not been confirmed internationally.
A woman in Turkey claimed to have celebrated her 119th birthday last summer, making her the same age as Tanaka.
Seker Arslan celebrated the incredible milestone with her family in the northern Turkish city of Amasya, according to Turkish media.
She was born on June 27, 1902, according to her driver’s license, making her 119 years old.
Jeanne Louise Calment, a Frenchwoman, was the oldest living person verified by Guinness when she died in 1997 at the age of 122 years and 164 days.