The world’s oldest person, Chiyo Miyako, passed away at the age of 117 on July 22, 2018. She was known by many in Japan as simply “the goddess.” The key to her long and healthy life? Calligraphy, eel and lots of sushi according to her family.
She learned calligraphy as a child and practiced it until recently. She also always received at least 8 hours of sleep a night. Her close family describe her as chatty, patient and kind to others. Her favorite food was eel sushi, which she tried to eat as often as possible.
The woman who will take over the title as the world’s oldest person is also Japanese – Kane Tanaka who is currently 115 and is fond of the board game Othello. The world’s oldest man celebrated his 113th birthday this past week. He is also Japanese. (Noticing a trend?) He attributes his longevity to living close to mineral-rich hot springs and his love of candy and sweets.
It’s no coincidence that the oldest man and woman are both Japanese. Japan has over 68,000 people over the age of 100 and has more people older than 65 than any other country in the world. The traditional Japanese diet and way of life are thought to be the reason for the graceful aging.
Okinawa (Southern island of Japan), is particularly noted for the long lives of its inhabitants. Nicknamed the “land of the immortals,” it has one of the highest ratios of people over 100 years of age. It is considered one of the five “Blue Zones” (places where people live far longer than average and do it while staying healthy). The other Blue Zones are the Italian island of Sardinia, California’s Loma Linda, Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula and the Greek island of Ikaria.
However, the world’s oldest person ever was a cigarette-loving French woman, Jeanne Louise Calment, who lived until the age of 122. She was born in 1875, outlived both her daughter and her grandson, and passed away in 1997. In addition to her cigarettes she loved her chocolates and sweets.