chapter  1
12 Pages


In 1986 Japan numbered among her 119 million citizens some 1,851 people who were over 100 years old. Among this elite group women outnumbered men by a ratio of four to one; until February 1986 the honour of being the world’s oldest reliably documented citizen fell on the shoulders of a 120year-old man called Shigechiyo Izumi, a resident of southern Japan whose birthday was recorded as 29 June 1865 and who attributed his longevity to a daily drink of ‘shochu’ (rice spirit) and leaving things up to Buddha.