Oldest Living Person in the World Celebrates 119th Birthday

Living to the age of 100 is both a rare and special achievement. It is the mysterious product of genetics, healthy habits, and luck, amongst countless other factors. And of those few who live to see a century, a handful are blessed with bonus years. The current oldest living person is Kane Tanaka of Japan, who just celebrated yet another exceptional year on January 2, 2022. The Guinness World Record holder was born in 1903 and took over the title in 2019 at age 116. Now 119, Tanaka has received birthday wishes from around the world in recognition of her exceptional life.

The year that Tanaka was born, Henry Ford founded his eponymous car company, the first Tour de France was held in Paris, the first baseball world series was played, and the Wright brothers took flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In Tanaka's native Japan, a silent film called Momijigari also premiered. Filmed in 1899, it is the oldest surviving example of Japanese film. Tanaka has seen pandemics, world wars, and countless other historic events in her lifetime.

This super-centenarian’s personal history is as fascinating as her life span. Tanaka married at age 19 and raised a family of five children. Her husband fought in World War II while she ran their rice and noodle business on the home front. Today, the loving grandmother lives in a rest home where she keeps a lively schedule. Tanaka wakes at 6 a.m., studies mathematics, and solves number puzzles. She is also an expert at the game Othello. (Mental exercises such as sudoku can help keep the brain sharp as it ages, studies have shown.)

Tanaka is currently the oldest living person, but she is three years shy of the world record for longest lifespan ever. That record is held by Frenchwoman Jeanne Louise Calment, who lived to 122. Like Tanaka, Calment reportedly was a big fan of chocolate. As Tanaka rings in another year closer to the record, her family just wishes her joy. Her grandson Eiji, told Kyodo News, “I hope she remains healthy and has fun every day as she grows older.” Happy birthday to Tanaka and congratulations on one more exceptional year!

The current oldest living person, Kane Tanaka of Japan, just celebrated her 119 exceptional year on January 2, 2022.

h/t” [Upworthy, Business Insider]

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and studying law while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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