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BIOGRAPHY

Ōnishi was born in Gifu Prefecture on 15 February 1900. Aged 15, he moved to what is now Tsubetsu Town, Hokkaido, and worked as a farmer, growing potatoes, beetroot, and a variety of other crops. He was married and had six children, two sons and four daughters.

Ōnishi was known to take great care of the people who moved to Hokkaido after him, and was trusted greatly by those around him. Due to this, he was often asked to be the matchmaker at weddings in his youth.

At the age of 75, Ōnishi moved to Kitami City, Hokkaido, and began writing in a diary daily. He took immense pride in the fact that he had secretly penned his autobiography at 90 years old. As a centenarian, walking was a favourite pastime of his; when he was 102, he completed a 10 kilometre walk in a sponsored event titled “Okhotsk March.”

Even after moving into a nursing home aged 106, Ōnishi regularly participated in local events and, on his 108th birthday, attended the “Kitami City Gathering of People Born in the Year of the Rat.” He walked into the venue aided by his third daughter.

Ōnishi claimed that the secret to his longevity was drinking half a small cup (Ochoko) of shochu mixed with honey at every meal, a practice he continued until he was 109 years old.

Ōnishi died of old age on 11 September 2011 at the age of 111 years, 211 days. His daughter described him as “…a man who was loved and admired by everyone.”

RECOGNITION

On 23 February 2009, following the passing of 111-year-old Kiyoshi Igarashi, he became the oldest living man in Hokkaido Prefecture.

On 9 September 2009, at the age of 110 years, 206 days, he surpassed Igarashi’s final age, becoming the oldest man ever to have lived in the Prefecture. He held the title until 19 February 2017, when Masazō Nonaka surpassed his final age.

At the time of his death, Ōnishi was the second-oldest validated male in Japan – and the world – after Jiroemon Kimura. He may, however, have been the third-oldest man in the world, after Kimura and Peru’s Horacio Celi Mendoza, whose age has not been validated as of June 2024.

Ōnishi’s age was verified by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (MHLW) and was validated by the GRG on 31 October 2010.

ATTRIBUTION

  • “108歳の大西さん囲み年男年女200人乾杯*北見で「子年会の集い」” – Hokkaido Shimbun, 16 February 2008
  • “男性の道内最高齢*111歳大西さんが死去*「みんなに好かれた人」*北見” – Hokkaido Shimbun, 15 September 2011

GALLERY

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