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Guinness World Records, aging, centenarians

Kane Takana is the oldest person in the world at age 119.

Most of us would consider it a wonder to reach the age of 100, much less 119. But Kane Tanaka, a woman living in Fukuoka, Japan, who boasts the "oldest person in the world" title, celebrated her 119th birthday on January 2.

Guinness World Records tweeted her a happy birthday and shared a video of her from 2019, when she was officially given the title. Guinness shared that she was born—prematurely, no less—on January 2, 1903, the same year that the first silent film was released and the year Wilbur and Orville Wright achieved sustained, powered flight for the first time.

She has seen two world wars, two pandemics, the invention of countless technologies and more life changes than children of today could possibly imagine. She married at age 19 and raised five children. Her husband ran a family rice and noodle business, which she helped run when he went off to war in 1937.

What's most fascinating, however, is how she spends her days now.


According to Insider, Tanaka lives in a rest home, where she wakes up at 6 a.m. and spends part of her day studying mathematics. She loves solving number puzzles and playing board games. (Guinness shared in 2019 that she had become an expert in the game of Othello, often beating the nursing home staff.)

According to Kyodo News, Tanaka enjoys carbonated drinks and chocolate. During her Guinness ceremony, she was gifted a box of chocolates, and when someone asked her how many chocolates she wanted to eat, she replied, "100."

The person who holds the record for the oldest person to ever live (verified in recorded history) is Jeanne Louise Calment of France who died in 1997 when she was 122. She was also fond of chocolate, reportedly eating two pounds of chocolate a week.

That's two supercentenarians who have embraced chocolate, just saying.

Tanaka's 62-year-old grandson, Eiji, told Kyodo News that he would like to congratulate her in person soon. "I hope she remains healthy and has fun everyday as she grows older," he said.

Happy birthday, Kane Tanaka! Here's to another wild and wonderful trip around the sun.

Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation

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