A Japanese man, who believes in smiles and has a sweet tooth, is officially the world’s oldest man at 112 years and 344 days old.
Chitetsu Watanabe was born in northern Japan in 1907 and officially became the world’s oldest man alive on Wednesday, when he received a certificate from Guinness World Records at a nursing home in his city.
Japanese man Masazo Nonaka, the previous record-holder, died last month, pushing Watanabe into the top place. The oldest-living woman is also Japanese — Kane Tanaka is now 117 years old.
His secret to a long life? Don’t get angry and keep smiling.
Watanabe was born on March 5, 1907 in Niigata, and was the first of eight children to parents Haruzo and Miya, the Guinness World Records reports.
He graduated from agriculture school and went on to work at Nippon Meiji Sugar, before moving to Taiwan to help at a sugar cane plantation. He stayed in Taiwan for 18 years and married Mitsue, with whom he had five children.
Watanabe returned to his hometown after serving in the military during the Pacific War in 1944, which marked one of the hardest times for the family.
“Both Chitetsu and Tetsuo told me that getting to places and sourcing food was a struggle,” Yoko, the wife of Watanabe’s first son Tetsuo, told the record-keeping organization. “Having to live under that circumstance with four young children must have been tough.”
He worked at an agriculture office until he retired, and in 1974 he and Tetsuo built a new family home, where Watanabe grew fruits and vegetables until turning 104.
A lover of bonsai, the man grew the small trees and even exhibited them at local museums and art fairs until 2007.
“I’ve lived together with him for over 50 years, and I’ve never seen him raise his voice or get mad. He’s also caring. When I was working on my patchwork hobby, he was the one who praised my work the most,” Yoka continued.
“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.”
Watanabe keeps busy at a retirement home doing origami, calligraphy and math exercises, Guinness World Records says, and is four years away from becoming the oldest man to have ever lived.
—With files from Associated Press