Jiroeman Kimura celebrated his 116th birthday today in the Japanese town of Kyotango. This makes Kimura not only the oldest person alive today, but also the longest living person in the world ever, as far as we know. He is one of 12 people alive still who were born before 1900, and it is almost incomprehensible to imagine everything he has lived through in his century-plus lifetime. Kimura worked as a postman until the age of 65, later took up farming, and finally retired at the ripe age of 90. He now lives surrounded by dozens of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even great-great-grandchildren.
Turns out Kimura isn’t the only one of his generation in the vicinity. Just a few hours drive away lives 115-year-old Misao Okawa, the second oldest person in the world. Coincidence that the two oldest people are from Japan? Not necessarily. Japan has the highest life expectancy of any country in the world, but also has a shrinking population due to the large proportion of elderly citizens. To what can we attribute this extraordinary longevity? Traditionally, Japanese diets have included high amounts of vegetables, fish, fruit, and soy. Who knows if this diet is directly or solely responsible for the high life expectancy, but it is certainly something to consider, especially compounded by the country’s low obesity rate.
Regardless, we wish a very happy birthday to Jiroeman Kimura, and many happy returns!
Here is Jiroeman at 115-years-old, surrounded by family:
Photo credit: Kyotango City/Associated Press