The pair took the Guinness World Record from another pair of twins, who were also Japanese.

Japanese twin sisters Koume Kodama and Umeno Sumiyama have officially been recognised by Guinness World Records as the oldest pair of identical twins in the world. The pair, born on 5 November 1913, officially became Guinness World Record holders as of September 1, at 107 years and 300 days old.

The previous title was held by another pair of Japanese sisters, Kin Narita and Gin Narie, who lived to 107 and 108 respectively. The oldest recorded pair of male twins were an American pair of twins, Dale and Glen Moyer, who lived to 105. Koume and Umeno are now the proud owners of two World Records — the oldest pair of twins and oldest pair of living twins.

▼ The previous record holders, Kin Narita and Gin Narie were well-known throughout Japan, and affectionately known as Kin-san and Gin-san.

Family members have commented on the twins’ positive attitudes and the fact that they don’t tend to worry about much, which may have contributed to their lasting health, as the family of the world’s oldest living man, Japan’s Masazo Nonaka, also claim he lives a life free of stress. His world record holder predecessor, Chitetsu Watanabe, also claimed the secret to a long life was “not to get angry and keep a smile on your face”.

However, the sisters spent most of their lives apart once they became adults, only getting together for weddings, funerals and a temple pilgrimage once they turned 70. According to the twins’ family, the pair were often bullied as children because they were twins.

▼ Umeno (left) and Koume with their awards

Koume and Umeno are currently living separately — Koume lives in Oita Prefecture whereas Umeno is in Kagawa Prefecture, and the sisters received their World Record awards from members of staff in their care homes, as due to COVID-19 the awards had to be sent via post. According to the care home staff, Umemo was moved to tears when she was presented with the award. Koume, on the other hand, is currently suffering from dementia and was unable to understand the significance of the award. However, family members said she had often talked in the past about the possibility of breaking the record, and were pleased that Koume and Umeno’s achievements were finally recognised.

The official Guinness World Records Twitter account posted the twins’ achievement on September 20th, which just so happened to coincide with Respect for the Aged Day in Japan. Japanese netizens had a lot to say about the sisters’ impressive world record.

“Please stay healthy and happy for a long time!”
“I can’t believe they’re 107. Especially Umeno, she doesn’t look a day over 80!”
“The year they were born is the year Tokugawa Yoshinobu (Japan’s last shogun) died. These women are connecting our history to the present.”
“I wonder if they’re gonna start a music career after this.”

While living to 107 is certainly nothing to scoff at, the twins have got a way to go if they want to beat the world record for oldest living person. The current holder, Kane Tanaka, is 118 years old, whereas the oldest person in all history, Jeanne Calment of France, lived for a mind-blowing 122 years. But with so many of Japan’s silver generation living impressively active lives, we’re sure we’ll be seeing many more world records being broken by elderly Japanese people in the years to come.

Sources: PR Times via NetLab, Guinness World Records, Twitter
Image: PR Times
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