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Kumekichi Tani

Gerontology Research Group
Validated By: Gerontology Research Group On Date: Jan. 01st 2003

Kumekichi Tani was a Japanese supercentenarian who was one of the oldest living men in the world at the time of his death.


Kumekichi Tani was born in Tanocho, Katsuuragun (now Komatsushima), Tokushima Prefecture, Japan on April 20, 1891. He ran a farming business and had seven children. He lost his three eldest sons to war and illness, but the remaining four lived long, healthy lives. In April 2003, he had eight grandchildren, sixteen great-grandchildren, and seventeen great-great-grandchildren.

On his 108th birthday, he received a visit from city officials including the mayor, from whom he received a congratulatory letter every year since turning 100; one for every birthday. Tani joked with his visitors that he would probably make it to 150. When asked about the secret to longevity, he replied “Not to wish for riches, not to push yourself too hard, and let nature take its course. You can’t live a long time by trying to.” This philosophy was exemplified in the quiet, dignified comfort with which he lived his life; he went to sleep when he felt like it, woke up when he felt like it, drank a small glass of beer every day, and enjoyed his favorite foods of udon, strawberries, and milk in moderation.

Tani’s hobby was gateball. He stopped playing at the age of 100, but in spite of the cessation of his sporting activities meaning he no longer left the house, aside from being slightly hard of hearing, he was still in good health at the age of 109. He never entered a nursing home, did not receive nursing insurance payouts, and lived with his daughter Fumiyo and her family of six until his passing at the age of 112.

In the summer of 2002, Tani’s health took a turn for the worst. By April 2003, at the age of 112, he was bedridden. In spite of this, he still ate his food without issue and demonstrated cognizance of his surroundings by nodding his head in response when spoken to.

Kumekichi Tani passed away at his home in Komatsushima, Tokushima Prefecture, Japan on May 12, 2003 at the age of 112 years, 22 days.

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At the time of his death, he was the 2nd-oldest living man in Japan, behind Yukichi Chuganji.

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*”目指すは長寿日本一 県内最高齢の谷さん(小松島)108歳に” Tokushima Shimbun, April 24, 1999
*”県内最高齢小松島の谷さん112歳 全国7番目、男性では2位” Tokushima Shimbun, April 21, 2003
*”谷久米吉さん(全国2番目男性長寿者)死去 112歳” Tokushima Shimbun, May 13, 2003