Yesterday, Monday, August 13, 2007, Minagawa Yone, who was thought to be the oldest person alive, died at the age of 114. She was born on January 14, 1893 in Akaike, Fukuoka, Japan, which is located in Kyushu. She was the oldest living person in Japan since 2005.
As a student of Japanese history, I wonder at all she would have been exposed to, born during Japan's rise as a global power, while shogun and samurai were part of the not too distant past, and on through two world wars, followed by Japan's metamorphosis into a peaceful, economic force to be reckoned with.
Perhaps it is because I don't have grand parents, but when I think of it like this, I am frequently in awe of really, really old people.