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World's oldest living person celebrates 117th birthday in west Japan

Kane Tanaka, who turned 117 on Jan. 2, receives a bouquet in Fukuoka's Higashi Ward on Jan. 5, 2020. (Mainichi/Tomohisa Yazu)

FUKUOKA -- A woman confirmed by Guinness World Records as the oldest person alive celebrated her 117th birthday at a nursing care home in this western Japan city on Jan. 5.

Kane Tanaka was born as the seventh child among nine siblings in the Fukuoka Prefecture village of Wajiro, now Fukuoka's Higashi Ward, on Jan. 2, 1903 -- or the 36th year of Meiji. Reiwa is the fifth era she has experienced, following Meiji, Taisho, Showa and Heisei.

The woman, who now lives in a nursing care home in Higashi Ward, used to run a rice cake shop with her husband.

About 30 residents at the facility clapped for Tanaka, who appeared in a kimono at her birthday party held three days after her actual birthday. She was presented with a bouquet and messages from staff members. Each time someone told her happy birthday, she would repeatedly nod and say, "Thank you," and, "It's a happy occasion."

Kane Tanaka, who turned 117 on Jan. 2, is served birthday cake in Fukuoka's Higashi Ward on Jan. 5, 2020. (Mainichi/Tomohisa Yazu)

Tanaka told her 69-year-old niece who served her cake that she wanted more of the delicious treat. She also performed a traditional Fukuoka dance with her hands when staff members sang to her, and seemed full of energy.

According to the nursing care home, the 117-year-old has an excellent appetite, finishing up New Year's spiced sake and traditional dishes, and walks on her own feet several times a day under the supervision of a caregiver.

She is also good at playing Othello and drawing Japanese calligraphy. The Chinese characters for Reiwa, which she wrote after the new era began in May 2019, is displayed at the facility.

(Japanese original by Yusaku Yoshikawa, Kyushu News Department)

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