Chiyoko Asato was born on 20 September 1898 in the Okinawa village of Nakagusuku, now known as Kitanakagusuku. She was the second of seven children. After her marriage, she lived in Hawaii for a decade and gave birth to her son, Eiichiro, and her daughter there. She moved back to Japan to care for her ailing mother-in-law.
During World War II, Asato was shot in the back and one of her legs. Her parents died during those years. Up until her retirement at the age of 65, she worked harvesting sugarcane.
Asato is a descendant of the notable Nakamura family, a family of wealthy farmers in Okinawa who owned the Nakamura Residence, an 18th-century traditional Okinawan-style house designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan by the Japanese government.
In her later years, Asato followed a strict daily routine. She woke up at 7 o’clock every morning, clean her house, go for a half-hour walk, and read her newspaper. Bread and coffee was her breakfast of choice, and after lunch, she would take a one-hour nap. After her dinner, a bath, and watching some television, she would go to bed at 9 o’clock every evening. She was reported to eat everything except cheese and butter, as well as having a rich, varied diet and drinking 200 millilitres of milk daily.
At the age of 97, Asato broke her leg whilst ascending a hill for worship at a Shrine. She later made a full recovery, surprising her doctors by walking for up to 30 minutes at a time.
Asato enjoyed playing gateball, representing the Ogido Ward senior citizens’ club for over 20 years. She still partook in matches at the age of 100. She would walk to the gateball ground independently, as well as to her local bookstore, being an avid reader. She was a fan of Jakucho Setouchi, the Buddhist nun, writer and activist, remarking that she, “can learn a lot from her.”
As a centenarian, Asato lived with her son Eiichiro, as well as her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. Her secret to longevity was having joy in her heart and a harmonious family life. She was described by her son as being, “strong-willed and independent.”
Chiyoko Asato passed away in a hospital on 18 March 2011 at the age of 112 years, 179 days.