Misao Okawa, a Japanese woman, passed away on Wednesday morning, few weeks after celebrating her 117th birthday. She died due to heart failure at the Osaka nursing home, where she had been living for the last 18 years. Her grandson and care takers were with her. Tomohiro Okada, an official at the nursing home reported that Okawa had lost her appetite 10 days ago and went away peacefully, just as if she had fallen asleep.
Born on March 5 1898 in Osaka, she was declared the Oldest Person alive by the Guinness World Records in 2013. She was one of the last 5 women alive who were born in the 1800s. Her birth predated the Wright Brothers’ first human flight by 5 years, she was a teenager during the First World War and was in her 70s at the time of the first moon landing.Okawa helped with her family’s Kimono clothing business until her marriage at age 21 in 1919, and became a mother of 3, grandmother of 4 and great grandmother of 6. She lived with her husband, Yukio, in Kobe where he ran a business. When he died in 1931 she moved back to Osaka.
She lived across 3 centuries and the key to a long, healthy life according to her is at least 8 hours of sleep every night and lots of sushi. Her favourite foods were mackerel on vinegar-steamed rice and of course, sushi. “Eat and sleep and you will live a long time,” she said.
When asked on her last birthday whether life seemed short or long, Okawa had said “it’s short”. Her 117th birthday celebrations were telecasted in Japan.
Japan is known for the long life expectancy of its people and is home to the World’s oldest man as well – Sakari Momoi, who turned 112 this February.
After the death of Ms. Okawa, the World’s oldest person now alive is Gertrude Weaver, a 116 year old American and the Oldest person to have ever lived was Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who died in August 1997 at 122 years and 164 days.