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World’s oldest identical twins: At 107, Japanese sisters get Guinness World Records certification

Umeno Sumiyama and Koume Kodama recall that, growing up, they were bullied because of prejudice against children of multiple births in Japan.

Umeno Sumiyama (left) and Koume Kodama at separate nursing homes in Shodoshima island, left, and Oita prefecture, Japan. At 107 years old, the Japanese twin sisters have been certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest living identical twins.
Umeno Sumiyama (left) and Koume Kodama at separate nursing homes in Shodoshima island, left, and Oita prefecture, Japan. At 107 years old, the Japanese twin sisters have been certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest living identical twins.
Guinness World Records

Guinness World Records has certified two Japanese sisters who are 107 years old as the world’s oldest living identical twins.

Umeno Sumiyama and Koume Kodama were born the third and fourth of 11 siblings on Shodoshima island in western Japan on Nov. 5, 1913.

They were separated after elementary school, when Kodama was sent to work as a maid in Oita on Japan’s southern main island of Kyushu. She later got married there. Sumiyama remained on the island where they grew up and where she raised her family.

The sisters recall that, growing up, they were bullied because of prejudice against children of multiple births in Japan.

Busy with their own lives for decades, the sisters rarely saw each other until they turned 70, when they started making pilgrimages together to some of the 88 Shikoku temples and enjoyed being reconnected.

Sumiyama and Kodama were 107 years and 300 days old as of Sept 1, breaking the previous record set by famous Japanese sisters Kin Narita and Gin Kanie at 107 years and 175 days, according to Guinness World Records.

Their families told Guinness the sisters often joked about outliving the earlier record-holders, affectionately known as “Kin-san, Gin-san,” who attained idol-like status in the late 1990s for their age and humor.

About 29% of the population of 125 million in Japan, the world’s fastest aging nation, are 65 or older, according to the health and welfare ministry. About 86,510 of them are centenarians — half turned 100 this year.

Due to anti-coronavirus measures, the certificates for the twins’ record were mailed to the nursing homes where they now live, and Sumiyama accepted hers with tears of happiness, according to Guinness.