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 married there, while Sumiyama remained on the island where they grew up and had her own family.
The sisters later recalled their difficult younger days. Growing up, they said they were bullied because of prejudice against children of multiple births in Japan.
Busy with their own lives for decades, the sisters rarely met 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, Guinness World Records Ltd. said in a statement.
Their families told Guinness that 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 both their age and humor.
Due to anti-coronavirus measures, the certificates for their record were mailed to the separate nursing homes where they now live, and Sumiyama accepted hers with tears of happiness, according to Guinness.
This story has been corrected to show the sisters were 107 years 300 days old as of Sept. 1.
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