Imagine experiencing 100 years worth of history.

Chitetsu Watanabe from Niigata, Japan, doesn't have to imagine. He is 112 Years 344 days old as of 12 February 2020.

He was born on 5th March 1907 in Niigata as the first of eight children of his father Haruzo and mother Miya. 

That makes him the oldest person living (male). 👴

He's lived through two world wars, a millennium and more. Just some of the events he's lived through include: 

  • Sinking of the RMS Titanic (1912). Chitetsu was been 4 years old 
  • World War I (1914- 1918). Chitetsu was been 11 years old when the war ended
  • Russian Revolution (1917). Chitetsu was 11 years old when the revolution began
  • World War II (1939- 1945). Chitetsu was 38 years old when the war ended
  • Collapse of the Berlin Wall (1989). Chitetsu was 80 years old
  • Millenium (2000). Chitetsu was 92 years old

To celebrate the announcement of him as the oldest person living (male), an official certificate was presented to him at a nursing home in Niigata, where he currently lives.

When he was younger, Chitetsu went to agricultural school and then went to work on a sugar cane plantation. (Where sugarcane is grown before being ground turned into sugar.) 

Chitetsu (centre) at a sugar cane farm

He went on to serve in the military towards the end of the Pacific War in 1944.

After the war, Chitetsu returned to his hometown. Chitetsu worked at an agricultural office until retirement.

Family photo before leaving for war

Retirement didn't stop Chitetsu from staying active. He grew fruits and vegetables of all kinds at the farm  - including potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries and plums. He kept this going until he was 104!


He also worked on his bonsai trees (he had over 100!) until he was set to live in a nursing home. 

🌳 Bonsai is a traditional Japanese art where small trees are grown that look like the shape and scale of full size trees. 🌳

Owing to his many years working for a sugar company, he loves sweet things. Since he has lost his teeth, he enjoys sweets that don't need a lot of chewing, like custard pudding. 😋🍮

At Joetsu City Senior Exhibition (2005) with the mayor of Joetsu City and the chair of the Elderly Association

Chitetsu said in an interview for a  local paper in January 2019 that the secret to his longevity is to "not to get angry and keep a smile on your face". 

Now living in a rest home, Chitetsu is not as active as before. However, until last summer, his daily activity included exercises (as part of rehabilitation), origami, calligraphy and math exercises.

Chitetsu is four years away from the record for the oldest man ever, which was held by Jiroemon Kimura (Japan), who was born on 19 April 1897 and passed away aged 116 years 54 days on 12 June 2013.

Kane Tanaka, who is currently the oldest woman living, recently celebrated her 117th birthday in January.