World’s Oldest Living Person, 118, Will Carry Olympic Flame In Japan

by : Julia Banim on :
World's Oldest Living Person, 118, Will Carry Olympic Flame In Japantanakakane0102/Twitter

The world’s oldest living person will be given the honour of carrying the Olympic flame in Japan this May.

118-year-old Kane Tanaka will reportedly take the flame as it passes through her hometown of Shime, in the Japanese prefecture of Fukuoka.


Tanaka’s family will push her in a wheelchair for the majority of her 100-metre leg, however the 118-year-old is determined to take the final few steps by herself.


Tanaka, who has been gifted a brand new pair of trainers for the event by her family, has led an extraordinary life.

Having survived cancer twice, Tanaka has also lived through two global pandemics and two world wars.


Born in 1903, Taneka went on to have four children with her husband, a rice shop owner who she married aged 19. She worked in the family store up to the age of 103, living to see five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Nowadays, Taneka lives in a nursing home, and sadly her family have been unable to visit her for 18 months on account of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. She is said to love fizzy drinks and enjoys playing the strategy game, Othello.


Taneka’s family say remaining curious and playing maths games have been key to Taneka keeping her mind and body healthy.


Her grandson Eiji Tanaka, who is now in his 60s, told CNN:

It’s great she reached that age and she can still keep up an active lifestyle – we want other people to see that and feel inspired, and not to think age is a barrier.


World’s Oldest Woman Celebrates 119th Birthday

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In January 2020, Tanaka’s great-granddaughter Junko Tanaka set up a Twitter account in celebration of her remarkable life.

Junko said:


I started a Twitter feed on her because it’s quite amazing that at 118 she drinks Coca-Cola herself and plays Othello.

I might be biased because I’m related to her but I think it’s kind of amazing – I wanted to share that with the world and for people to feel inspired and to feel her joy.


Taneka, who her grandson describes as ‘very forward thinking’, is nearly as old as the modern Olympic Games, which began in 1896.

When Tokyo last held the Olympics in 1964, Tanaka had been 61 years old. When taking into account both the summer and winter games, the 2021 Olympics will mark the 49th of her lifetime.


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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Life, Japan, Olympics


  1. CNN

    CNN Exclusive: Aged 118, the world's oldest living person will carry the Olympic flame in Japan