Smiling in Heaven: World’s oldest man dies aged 112 just days after he told Guinness Book of Records ceremony the secret to long life was to have a grin on your face and be happy
- Chitetsu Watanabe died 13 days after being named the world’s oldest man
- Guinness World Records presented him with certificate in Niigata on February 12
- The previous oldest man alive was also Japanese but died last month aged 113
The world’s oldest living man has died aged 112 just 13 days after he told a Guinness Book of Records ceremony that the secret to a long life was to smile and never get angry.
Chitetsu Watanabe, a retired Japanese farmer, died at his care home in Niigata, the city in northern Japan where he was born in March 1907. No cause of death has been given.
He had not been able to eat after the celebrating his record on February 12, and had developed a fever and shallow breathing in the days before his death, his eldest son’s wife Yoko told Japan’s Mainichi newspaper.
The father-of-five, who worked on a sugar plantation, grinned as he received his award and admitted that, despite having no teeth, he still had a sweet tooth and could not resist custard and cream tarts as these did not need to be chewed.
Grinning Chitetsu Watanabe said the secret to a long life is ‘not to get angry and keep a smile on your face’
He says he’s still got a sweet tooth despite losing all his teeth and loves custard pudding
Chitetsu Watanabe served in the military towards the end of World War II and then returned to Niigata where he worked in a government office until retirement
A wake will be held for Mr Watanabe at 6pm on February 27, organised by his grandson Tetsuya, and a funeral will take place at 10.30am the next day at Ceremony Hall Heian.
As well as his five children, Mr Watanabe also leaves behind 12 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
Mr Watanabe was four years younger than the oldest living person, 117-year-old Kane Tanaka, also from Japan.
The oldest living man is now 110-year-old Issaku Tomoe, according to Jiji Press. The previous oldest living man was Masazo Nonaka, also Japanese, who died last year aged 113.
Mr Watanabe’s daughter-in-law – wife of his eldest son Tetsuo, said: ‘I’ve never seen him raise his voice or get mad. He’s also caring.
‘I think having lived with a big family under one roof, mingling with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren helped keep a smile on his face as well.’
The world’s previous oldest living man Masazo Nonaka died in January last year aged 113. He is pictured here in April 2018 aged 112 years and 259 days during a ceremony in Ashoro on Japan’s northern main island of Hokkaido
Until about a decade ago, Mr Watanabe used to grow bonsai trees and had a collection of about 100 which he used to exhibit.
After graduating from agricultural school he moved to Taiwan and worked on sugar cane plantation contracts and lived there for 18 years with his wife Mitsue and their children.
He served in the military towards the end of World War II and then returned to Niigata where he worked in a government office until retirement.
He also grew fruit and vegetables on the family farm.
In 1974, he and his son Tetsuo built a new family home with a hectare of farmland where they grew potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries and plums.
He kept this going until he was 104.
The record for the oldest man ever was held by Jiroemon Kimura, of Japan, who was born in April 1897 and passed away aged 116 years 54 days in June, 2013.