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Meet the sisters who have the Guinness Record for being the world’s oldest twins2 min read

October 15, 2021 2 min read


Meet the sisters who have the Guinness Record for being the world’s oldest twins2 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes

You must have heard the dictum— Age is just a number. But in the world of records, it is also a way to secure a Guinness Record!

Meet Umeno Sumiyama and Koume Kodama,
the 107-year old twins from Japan, who have recently
been certified by Guinness World Records as the
oldest twins in the world!

The twins, at 107 years and 300 days, have broken the record set by late Japanese twin sisters Kin Narita and Gin Kanie. The announcement was made on November 5, which is Respect for the Aged Day, a national holiday in Japan. The two sisters live in different places, and the certificates were sent to them separately.

Umeno Sumiyama (left) and Koume Kodama (right) with their official certificates. Image: Smithsonian Magazine

Umeno and Koume were born on November 5, 1913 on Shodoshima Island. They were the third and fourth of eleven siblings. The girls grew up facing bullying that was attached to the stigma of multiple births at that time. And now they are celebrities! The sisters went their separate ways after elementary school. Kodama went to Oita to become a maid. She got married in Kyushu. Sumiyama settled in their hometown.

A hundred and seven years is a lot! They saw both the world wars, the Spanish influenza and COVID-19. Sumiyama had to leave her home towards the end of the Second World War as soldiers were building an air-raid shelter in the mountains behind her home.

The distance of 186 miles made it difficult for the sisters to meet frequently. They met on family occasions like weddings, funerals etc. But on reaching the age of 70, they undertook many Buddhist pilgrimages together.

As age caught on, they began joking about beating the record set by the earlier record-holding twins, Kin and Gin, who were 107 years and 175 days old. Receiving their certificates was a realisation of that idea from years ago. While Kodoma’s declining health came in the way of appreciating the win, Sumiyama received hers with tears in her eyes.

(In the Spotlight is a weekly column that features people who are in the news for all the right reasons)

Sourced from Smithsonian Magazine and BBC