Kane Tanaka

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Kane Tanaka
A black and white photo of a young woman, sitting, wearing a striped kimono and a jacket and a traditional hairstyle.
Tanaka in 1923 at 20 years old
Kane Ota

(1903-01-02)2 January 1903
(age 118 years, 290 days)
Wajiro Village
(now Higashi-ku, Fukuoka, Japan)
OccupationStore owner[1]
Known for
  • Oldest living person
    (since 22 July 2018)
  • Oldest verified Japanese person ever
  • Third oldest verified person ever
Hideo Tanaka
(m. 1922; died 1993)
Children5 (1 adopted)

Kane Tanaka (田中カ子, Tanaka Kane) (née Ota; born 2 January 1903) is a Japanese supercentenarian, who (at age 118 years, 290 days[2]) is the world's oldest verified living person, since the death of Chiyo Miyako on 22 July 2018. Tanaka is the third-oldest verified person ever (behind Jeanne Calment and Sarah Knauss) and oldest verified Japanese person ever.[3][4]

Personal life[edit]

Kane Tanaka, née Ota, was born on 2 January 1903 in the village of Wajiro (now part of Higashi-ku, Fukuoka), on the southern island of Kyushu,[5] the third daughter and seventh child of her parents, Kumayoshi and Kuma Ota.[6][7] Kane was born prematurely and raised on breast milk.[8] Kane's early childhood was during the last years of the Meiji period, which ended when she was nine, in 1912.[9] Kane married her cousin Hideo Tanaka in 1922, with whom she had two sons and two daughters.[10] The couple also adopted a third daughter during their marriage, the second daughter of Hideo's sister.[11][6] Kane's eldest daughter died shortly after birth and her second daughter died at the age of one in 1947, while her adoptive daughter died in 1945 at the age of 23 of an unspecified illness.[7][9][12] The couple worked in a store selling shiruko and udon noodles.[1][13] Kane's husband was later drafted into the military service, which lasted from 1937 to 1939; one of her sons was captured towards the end of World War II, as he also served in the military, and was held prisoner in Siberia before being released and returning home in 1947.[12]

After World War II, the couple continued working in the store, with Kane converting to Christianity under the influence of pastors stationed by the United States military.[7][14] Retiring from working at their store at 63, Kane travelled to the United States in the 1970s to visit her relatives in California and Colorado.[5][15] Her husband died in 1993 at the age of 90, after 71 years of marriage.[7] Kane has been living in a nursing home in Higashi-ku, Fukuoka since September 2018, and was reportedly still in good health on her 118th birthday.[2][16] She occasionally plays Othello and takes short walks in the facility's hallways. Her hobbies include calligraphy and solving arithmetic problems.[16] She has five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.[12]

Health and longevity[edit]

Tanaka has had several major illnesses, and was infected with paratyphoid fever with her adopted daughter at the age of 35.[17] She underwent pancreatic cancer surgery at the age of 45.[17] Most recently, Kane was diagnosed with colorectal cancer and underwent surgery when she was 103 years old.[5] Her life and longevity were noted by her second son and his wife four years later when they published a book called: In Good and Bad Times, 107 Years Old.[7] At the age of 114, she was interviewed by KBC in September 2017.[18] Kane said she would like to live to the age of 120, crediting her faith in God, family, sleep, hope, eating good food, and practicing mathematics for her longevity.[5][19][20][21][22] Tanaka was also supposed to hold the Olympic torch at the 2020 Summer Olympics, although she pulled out of it due to concerns regarding an uptick in COVID-19 cases in Japan.[23]

On 9 March 2019, Tanaka was officially presented with the "World's Oldest Living Person" and "World's Oldest Living Woman" titles by the Guinness World Records, verifying her longevity claim.[1] On 19 September 2020, she broke the record of longest-lived Japanese person ever, as well as the third-oldest person ever in the world, after surpassing Nabi Tajima's age at the time of her death of 117 years, 260 days.[3] Kane's longevity has since contributed to the maximum lifespan for humans debate. Her age has been compared with Jeanne Calment's, and a 115- to 125-year window which has been proposed as a possible maximum lifespan range.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Masakazu Senda (9 March 2019). "福岡在住の田中カ子さんが、116歳66日で世界最高齢としてギネス世界記録に認定" (in Japanese). Guinness World Records. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  2. ^ a b "World's oldest woman celebrates 118th birthday". NHK World-Japan. 2 January 2021. Archived from the original on 7 January 2021. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  3. ^ a b "117-year-old granny sets new record as Japan's oldest ever person". Kyodo News+. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  4. ^ McCurry, Justin (21 September 2020). "Woman, 117, marks becoming Japan's oldest ever person with cola and boardgames". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d Kashiwagi, Toshihiro (27 July 2018). 国内最高齢115歳、入所者励ます「頑張りんしゃい」 [At 115, the oldest man in Japan advises citizens to "try hard"]. Asahi Shimbun (in Japanese). Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  6. ^ a b Senda, Masakazu (9 March 2019). "World's oldest person confirmed as 116-year-old Kane Tanaka from Japan". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e "最高齢田中さん117歳に 戦争、病越え5時代生きる". The Nikkei (in Japanese). 2 January 2020. Retrieved 21 October 2020.
  8. ^ Hoda, Masashi (27 July 2018). 田中カ子さん115歳「-死ぬ気全然せんです」 [Japan's oldest woman, Kanako Tanaka, at 115: "I do not feel like dying at all"]. Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  9. ^ a b "明治から生きる116歳描く夢 令和も「長生きしたい」". The Asahi Shimbun (in Japanese). 30 April 2019. Retrieved 21 October 2020.
  10. ^ "5つ目の元号を迎える"歴史の生き証人"世界最高齢116歳田中カ子さん、願うのは「みんなが幸せな時代」". Sports Hochi (in Japanese). 26 March 2019. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  11. ^ Wharton, Jane (2 January 2020). "The oldest person alive is celebrating her 117th birthday today by sucking into a bowl of strawberries and cream". Metro. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  12. ^ a b c Tokyo, Richard Lloyd Parry. "Number of Japanese centenarians surges to record 80,000". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  13. ^ "45歳ですい臓がん、103歳で大腸がんを克服! 世界最長寿・田中力子さん116歳". Daily Shincho (in Japanese). Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  14. ^ Naoko Sakamoto (21 September 2020). "国内の歴代最高齢 117歳の田中カ子さん 記憶に焼きつく祈る姿". Christian Press (in Japanese). Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  15. ^ McIntosh, Linda (6 June 2016). "San Marcos couple celebrate aunt's 113th year". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  16. ^ a b "Japan's oldest person Chiyo Miyako dies at 117". The Japan Times. Kyodo. 27 July 2018. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  17. ^ a b Hanada (2010). Honto "In Good and Bad Times, 107 Years Old". Azusa College. ISBN 978-4-87035-380-0.
  18. ^ "元気に長生きする秘けつ" [The secret to a healthy long life] (in Japanese). KBC. 19 September 2017. Archived from the original on 10 August 2018. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  19. ^ Brennan, David (27 July 2018). "Who is the World's oldest Person? Chiyo Miyako Dies At 117, Passing Title To Kane Tanaka". Newsweek. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  20. ^ Karimi, Faith (27 December 2020). "5 things the week ahead". CNN. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  21. ^ "A Japanese Woman Kane Tanaka Is The Worlds Oldest Person". HOPCLEAR. 14 September 2018.
  22. ^ "San Marcos couple celebrate aunt's 113th year". San Diego Union-Tribune. 6 May 2016.
  23. ^ "Tokyo Olympics: World's oldest person pulls out of torch relay". BBC News. 6 May 2021. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  24. ^ Sergey Young (2021). Breaking the "Sound Barrier" of Lifespan. The Science and Technology of Growing Young: An Insider's Guide to the Breakthroughs that Will Dramatically Extend Our Lifespan . . . and What You Can Do Right Now. BenBella Books.

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