Image: Itsuo Inouye/AP/Press Association Images
WITH HER 115TH birthday approaching on Tuesday, Misao Okawa has been confirmed as the world’s oldest living woman.
Guinness World Records recognised the Japanese citizen’s long life at a special ceremony today. Also in attendance was her 90-year-old son Hiroshi Okawa.
Misao was born on 5 March 1898 in Tenma, Osaka. She married in 1919 and moved to Kobe where her husband Yukio ran a business. The couple had three children – Hiroshi and two daughters.
When Yukio passed away, aged just 36, she moved back to Osaka where she remains today. According to the family, she is in good health and is surrounded with her loved ones, including her children, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
She has lived through 42,000 days. She has seen six Great British monarchs, four emperors of Japan and twenty US presidents.
Misao with her grand-daughter and great-granddaughter Hibiki. Image: Guinness World Records
Misao has been given the title of oldest living woman following the death of Koto Okubo on 12 January. She was 115 years and 19 days old.
Japan is also home to the oldest living man, Jiroemon Kimura, who is 115 years and 314 days old. Both Misao and Jiroeman have lived across three centuries, witnessing the advent of the motor vehicle, aviation and mobile telephones.
Editor-in-chief of Guinness World Records Craig Glenday described Misao as “an inspiration and a testament to the Japanese lifestyle”.
Image: Guinness World Records
“It’s incredible to think that she was born before the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Vladimir Nabokov, and Walt Disney… Queen Victoria was still on the throne and the Wright Brothers were still a few years from making the first heavier-than-air flight at the time of her birth.”
The oldest person ever to have lived was Jeanne Calment of France. She was 122 years and 164 days when she passed away.
America has the most centenarians (people aged 100 or more) but Japan follows closely behind with 51,376. Of these, a huge majority (44,842) are female.