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BIOGRAPHY

Takaki was born in Tamana, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan, on 11 October 1908. According to what she had heard from her parents, she was so frail at birth that her parents were afraid she would not survive, so they delayed registering the birth with the authorities. When she was seven years old, she was only 100 cm tall. Due to her father’s job as a police officer, she and her family moved Taiwan (occupied by Japan at the time) in 1917. She obtained her teaching degree at a girls’ high school in Taiwan, and after graduation she worked at an elementary school in Taichung.

Between 1929 and 1939, she taught Japanese to about 1,000 first and second grade elementary school students. After she married a police officer, she decided to quit her job. In 1939, she gave birth to her first daughter. After World War II, her husband was arrested as a war criminal, while she and her then six-year-old daughter moved from one evacuation center to another until they finally returned to Japan in 1946. Upon their return, she supported her family through farming and silk farming for several years until her husband, who was held captive in Taiwan, returned home.

After her husband passed away in 1976, she started getting in touch with some of her former students in Taiwan, some of whom came to see her. However, the 1999 Taiwan earthquake temporarily cut off their communication. In 2015, when she was 107 years old, she wrote a letter to a former student in Taiwan for the first time in a long time, and it was picked up by the Taiwanese media and became a hot topic in Taiwan. On 8 September 2015, the former teacher and student had a reunion for the first time in 70 years via Internet videophone. On 26 July 2017, at the age of 108, she received a letter of appreciation from the representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Affairs Office, which is the consulate general of Taiwan, for “creating a bond of friendship between Japan and Taiwan”. On 8 November 2018, a month after she turned 110 years old, the director of the Taiwanese Consulate General in Fukuoka visited her. On that occasion, she sang the Taiwanese national anthem with the director of the Taiwanese Consulate.

In her later years, she enjoyed bonding with a neighborhood cat, who came to visit her house every day. At one point, she wrote a letter about how the cat had been visiting her house and tied the letter to the cat’s collar. The story became a hot topic locally, and a book was also published.

Takaki passed away in Tamana, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan, on 28 February 2020, at the age of 111 years, 140 days.

RECOGNITION

At the time of her death, Takaki was the second-oldest living person in Kumamoto Prefecture, behind Chie Ogata.

ATTRIBUTION

* “百歳の誕生日おめでとうおざいます” – Koho Tamana, 1 November 2008

* “手紙で結ぶ 日台の絆” – Kumamoto Nichinichi Shimbun, 27 July 2017

* “伝書ねこ チャアチャ” – Asahi Shimbun

* “陳処長夫婦が訪問 台湾の教え子と交流の高木さん” – Asahi Shimbun, 9 November 2018

* “「伝書ネコ」と交流・教え子と再会 熊本の111歳死去” – Asahi Shimbun, 29 February 2020

GALLERY

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