Who Is The Oldest Guinness World Record Holder?

It can be a lot of hard work to achieve a Guinness World Record. According to Mental Floss, people hold records in some impressively bizarre areas, including "fastest half-marathon pushing a pram," "fastest time to burst three balloons with the back," and "longest distance pulled by a horse (full body burn.)" On the other hand, the record for oldest person in the world is perhaps even more impressive and merely requires the work of living one's life, albeit for a long, long time.

In 2019, Guinness World Records reported that the world's oldest person's age had been confirmed. Kane Tanaka from Fukuoka, Japan was officially declared to be 116 years and 66 days old as of March 9, 2019. Born on January 2, 1903, she was a premature baby who was the seventh child of her parents, Kumakichi and Kuma Ota. At the age of 19 she married her husband, Hideo Tanaka, in an arranged marriage. They went on to have five children together and run a family business that "made and sold sticky rice, Zenzai (a type of Japanese sweets), and Udon noodles."

Chocolate, math, and board games

The ceremony that honored Tanaka's world record was held at her rest home. Guinness World Records reported that she "was given a box of chocolates, which she immediately opened and started eating." In addition to chocolate, Tanaka's other likes include studying math and playing the board game Othello, "often beating rest home staff."

On January 2, 2021, she celebrated her 118th birthday, as reported by NHK World-Japan. Tanaka "clapped her hands" upon being wished a happy birthday and apparently still enjoys both chocolate and math as well as "fizzy drinks." 

Like a lot of us, in the last year Tanaka "has had almost no chance to meet her relatives due to the coronavirus pandemic" but she remains healthy, eating three meals a day, exercising, and staying determined to live to 120 years old.

That would still make her younger than the person recognized as the oldest person ever, a record held by Jeanne Louise Calment of Arles, France, who died in 1997 at the age of 122 years and 164 days. Like Tanaka, Calment was a fan of chocolate, eating up to an entire kilogram (2.2 pounds) a week, per Guinness World Records.