Japan is known for its abundance of centenarians and can now lay claim to having the world’s oldest living married couple, with a combined age of 208 – a feat the wife credits to her patience during 80 years of marriage.
Masao Matsumoto, 108, and his 100-year-old wife, Miyako, have been confirmed as the oldest living spouses by aggregate age by Guinness World Records, having been married since October 1937.
‘I am so glad. It’s thanks to my patience, really,’ said Miyako with a laugh, posing with Masao and other family members in front of a framed certificate at the nursing home where they live.
‘I am so grateful that it brings me tears,’ she told Reuters.
The Matsumotos never managed to have a wedding as Japan was heading into war and Masao was sent overseas as a soldier, but that was no obstacle to having a big family – including a 25th great-grandchild who was born last month.
‘They’ve entered the last chapter of their life. It was a honour (for them) to receive this award. I would love them to continue living a peaceful life,’ said daughter Hiromi.
Both born in Oita prefecture, Masao and Miyako were introduced to each other through an acquaintance.
The pair wed in 1937, but there was a chance that the marriage may not have taken place. With the intention to hold a wedding, Miyako and her family visited Masao’s parents.
When they’ve arrived, however, Masao had not returned from another region in Japan, leaving Miyako disgruntled as the wedding had to be delayed.
Her soon-to-be husband had actually been paying off his brothers’ debt and had no money to return home. Had this marriage got called off because of this incident, then there would not have been a new Guinness World Record title.
Hardship hit the couple when Japan was involved in a series of wars.
Until the end of Second World War, Masao was called up for military service three times, having to leave Miyako and two young daughters behind. Miyako lived with a group of relatives and worked hard to raise her daughters.
Miyako was prepared for the worst, the possibility that Masao might not return. In fact, Masao was finally able to return to his family in 1946.
Having returned to his home ‘with only skin and bone left’ – according to Miyako – Masao was overjoyed to reunite with his family.
After Masao’s return, the couple had three more daughters.
Japanese have among the longest life expectancies in the world, with data from Japan’s health ministry showing they rank No.2 on average at around 84, just a smidgen behind people from Hong Kong.
The record for oldest married couple ever by aggregate age still belongs to Norwegians Karl and Gurdren Dolven, who had a combined age of 210 years, 1 month and 34 days when Gurdrun died in 2004, according to Guinness World Records.