Masazo Nonaka passed away peacefully at his home, a 106-year-old hot spring inn run by his family for four generations in Ashoro, Hokkaido, northern Japan.
“We feel shocked at the loss of this big figure,” his granddaughter Yuko told Japanese media. “He was as usual yesterday and passed away without causing our family any fuss at all.”
Mr Nonaka was born on July 25,1905, the same year that Albert Enstein published his theory of relativity, and went on to live through countless landmarks in global history, including two world wars.
He was raised in Hokkaido in a large family with six brothers and one sister. He outlived his wife, whom he married in 1931, as well as three of their five children.
The supercentenarian was certified as the world’s oldest living man last April, when he was aged 112 years and 259 days.
Japanese Masazo Nonaka receives a Guinness World Records certificate naming him the world’s oldest man during a ceremony in Ashoro Credit: KYODO/Reuters
Soaking in hot spring onsen waters, watching sumo and samurai dramas on television and eating sweets – particularly cakes – were among his favourite activities in later life.
It is understood that Gustav Gerneth of Germany, aged 113 years and 97 days, will now assume the title of the oldest known living man following the death of Mr Nonaka.
Japan has long been famed for the longevity of its residents, as reflected in its rapidly ageing population, soaring numbers of centenarians and the regular presence of elderly Japanese in Guinness World Records.
The oldest person currently living is Kane Tanaka, a Japanese woman, who is 116 years and 19 days. Meanwhile, Jiroemon Kimura, a Japanese man, holds the record as the oldest man ever to have lived, passing away at the age of 116 years and 54 days in June 2013, according to Guinness World Records.
Japan’s famed longevity has been attributed in part to the traditional Japanese diet, which includes fish, vegetables, rice and countless fermented ingredients.
The nation’s rapidly ageing society, however, does not come without its downsides, with growing concerns relating to its shrinking workforce.
Earlier this month, Haruhiko Kuroda, the governor of the Bank of Japan, highlighted the growing risks posed by the nation’s ageing population and urged financial leaders to devise policies to stop current demographic trends from hindering economic growth.