For the person officially recognised as the world's current oldest living person by the Guinness World Records, Misao Okawa has a refreshing point of view on her longevity and how it makes her feel. Born in Osaka, Western Japan, on 5th March, 1898, she celebrated her 117th birthday yesterday, with no doubt plenty to reflect back on over such a long life and having witnessed so many changes throughout it.
When asked how the thought of living quite so long made her feel, at a celebration event on the eve of her birthday, she wistfully replied: "It seemed rather short." Ms Okawa is the daughter of a kimono maker, the traditional Japanese costume, and was suitably attired in a resplendent pink kimono with cherry blossom prints at her party, clearly demonstrating that she is no shrinking violet.
Her status as the oldest person still alive was confirmed back in 2013 by the Guinness World Records. Although not as sprightly as she once was, as she now requires the aid of a wheelchair to move around, she still seems to have most of her faculties in decent working order and declared that she was "very happy" to have lived so long. She also rather coyly replied, when quizzed about the secret of her long life: "I wonder about that too." In the past she has been less guarded, by suggesting that it has been eight hours of sleep, plenty of sushi and doing squats until the age of 102 that had kept her living so long.
The party was quite a grand affair with several members of her family and even government officials from Osaka in attendance to pass on their own birthday congratulations to the centenarian, including the presentation by Takehiro Ogura of a large and colourful bouquet of flowers.
Japan seem to have a history of longevity in their population, with the most people over the age of one hundred in the world at a figure in excess of 58,000. As if to prove the notion that women live longer than men, that is indeed borne out by the fact that government statistics suggest that around 87% of the centenarians are women.Ms Okawa remains in good health even at her advanced years, although her hearing is failing gradually, but she still eats well with three large meals a day at her retirement home. She has long outlived her husband though, who sadly died way back in 1931, having married in 1919 and having three children, who have since given birth to their own children. Indeed, Ms Okawa is now a great-grandmother.