OSAKA – Misao Okawa, a Japanese woman recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest living person, died of natural causes at the age of 117 on Wednesday morning at a nursing home in Osaka, nursing home officials said.
Okawa was born to the family of a kimono shop owner in Osaka in 1898, the same year the United States annexed the Hawaiian Islands and Pepsi-Cola was launched.
She was recognized by Guinness as the oldest living woman in February 2013 at the age of 114 . She was named the oldest living person in June the same year, at the age of 115, when Jiroemon Kimura, a Japanese man who was then the world’s oldest, died in Kyoto at age 116.
A 116-year-old American woman, Gertrude Weaver of Arkansas, is now the world’s oldest person, according to Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group, which keeps records of supercentenarians. She was born on July 4, 1898.
Meanwhile, a 115-year-old woman from Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, whose name has not been disclosed at her family’s request, has now become Japan’s oldest person, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
Okawa married in 1919 and had a son and two daughters. She had four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren as of March, according to the Guinness website.
She entered the nursing home in 1997 as nursing care was required.
“Eating delicious things is a key to my longevity,” said Okawa who loved ramen noodles and beef stew, as well as hashed beef and rice.
She ate some cake to celebrate her 117th birthday in early March, the officials said.
But she lost her appetite about 10 days ago and died in her sleep while being watched over by relatives and nursing home officials, they said.
“I feel lonely as I have lived with her since her entry here in 1997,” said Tomohito Okada, acting president of the nursing home. “I thank her for teaching various experiences to me.”