Yomitan Village, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan – On September 19, 2023, our team had the honor of visiting the younger sister of the world’s oldest pair of siblings in history, the 15th oldest living person in the world, and the second-oldest known living person in Okinawa Prefecture, Mrs. Kikue Taira. In most families, one person reaching the age of 113 would be a unique achievement, but Mrs. Taira’s sister, Kame Ganeko, lived to the age of 114.
Mrs. Taira was presented with two plaques and a bouquet of flowers at Yomitan No Sato, a special nursing home for the elderly. One of the plaques was addressed to her, and one to her older sister, Mrs. Ganeko, who at the time of her death on October 18th 2019, was the second-oldest ever person from Okinawa Prefecture and the seventh-oldest person in the world. The plaques certified the sisters’ status as the world’s oldest ever pair of siblings, with a combined age of over 227 years.
LongeviQuest Japan President Yumi Yamamoto had the privilege of carrying out the visit, where she was warmly welcomed by two of Mrs. Taira’s grandchildren, who expressed deep gratitude for the acknowledgement of their grandmother’s incredible achievement. Mrs. Taira is hard of hearing, but when spoken to loudly up close can still understand what is being said. When Yamamoto congratulated her on her achievement, she clearly stated her date of birth, demonstrating an awareness of the celebration being held in her honor.
Mrs. Taira was born on 26th April 1910 (Meiji 43) in Yomitanson, Okinawa Prefecture, the third of four sisters, preceded by her older sister and fellow supercentenarian, Kame Ganeko. Mrs. Taira moved to Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture as a teenager to work as a textile spinner before moving back to Okinawa in her early 20’s where she married Mr. Ryoshin, with whom she had 6 children. She lived on her own for 24 years between the ages of 73 and 97 before entering care after injuring her femur in a fall at home.
Mrs. Taira was said to be very close to her older sister, whom she supported by visiting the nursing home she lived in well into old age. Her granddaughters described her as a “kind, vibrant person who always had a smile on her face” – a warmth which could be felt when they shared stories of the great joy she took in cooking traditional Okinawan food for her family. A woman of varied interests, Mrs. Taira was an avid knitter in her younger years and enjoyed cultivating flowers in her garden, an activity which she continued until entering care at the age of 97, demonstrating her strong sense of self-reliance and physical capability. From an early age, she had a passion for food, which the nursing staff informed us continues to this day. Her grandchildren believe her hearty appetite has likely contributed to her longevity.
We deeply appreciate and thank to the Kikue Taira’s family and nursing home staff who received LongeviQuest team very warmly and our photographer Mr. Nomoto Shunki for the beautiful photos.