Misao Okawa, who celebrated her 117th birthday last Wednesday, is officially the oldest living documented person in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Okawa, who was born in Osaka on March 5th, 1898, was the daughter of a kimono maker. Misao married her husband in 1919, and with him, they had three children – two daughters and a son. Her husband died in 1931, and Okawa has been a widow for over 80 years.
On the day before Misao’s birthday last week, Takehiro Ogura, an official from the government in Osaka, Takehiro Ogura, who brought her a big bouquet, asked Okawa how she felt about living 117 years.
Okawa’s reply was direct.
“It seemed rather short.”
On a previous occasion, Misao Okawa had given the secret to a long life to eagerly interested onlookers. The secret, Okawa said, was simple: sushi and sleep. The idea that all it takes to live to 117 is a healthy dose of raw fish and plenty of Z’s might seem simplistic, no one can argue with how long Misao has been on the planet. Misao has lived across three separate centuries, witnessing the dawn of motor vehicles, flight, space travel, the internet, smartphones, six UK monarchs, 4 Japanese Emperors, and a staggering 20 United States Presidents.
Though Japan has over 50,000 centenarians – those being people at or over 100 years of age – the Guinness Book of World Records says that the United States has the most centenarians – a fact that may surprise many.
Four others have been verified to have lived longer than Misao Okawa. Jeanne Calmant, a French woman who died in 1997, lived 122 years and 164 days, longer than any other documented human being. In 2nd place is Sarah Knauss, an American who died in 1999 after living for 119 years and 97 days. Another American is in third place. Lucy Hannah lived for 117 years and 248 days and died in 1993. A Canadian woman, Marie-Louise Meillur died in 1998 after living for 117 years and 230 days.
Misao Okawa has made it to 117 years. If she remains healthy for another 248 days, she’ll move into 3rd place on the oldest verified living persons list.
So if you’re not sure if eating sushi and getting enough sleep are the only factors to longevity, listen to the advice of some other centenarians.
Real Simple interviewed several centenarians to find out what they thought about how to live to 100.
Lili Rudin’s advice: “Do something interesting every day; otherwise you disintegrate.”
Frieda Falk’s advice: “Learning new things makes you happy and keeps your mind active.”
Haruo Ito: “Sleep well. Try not to worry, and enjoy good dreams.”
Mae Lewis: “I honestly don’t know what’s kept me going so long. Maybe good genes, but probably just good luck.”
Justina Sotomayor: “Be lovable. I’ve lived a long life because there are so many people who love me.”
Rose Strassburger: “Keep kosher.”
[Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images]