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114-year-old Japanese woman with taste for sake becomes oldest living human

TOKYO (AP) _ Slugging back shots of stiff Japanese sake apparently never hurt 114-year-old Kamato Hongo - she is now the world's oldest living person, according to Guinness World Records.

Hongo inherited the title Monday after the death of the previous record holder, Maud Farris-Luse, of Coldwater, Mich., Guinness said on its Web site.

Farris-Luse was 115 years and 56 days old.

Hongo, born Sept. 16, 1887, was raised on a farm and counts drinking Japanese rice wine among her favorite things - along with black salt, pork, sashimi, and green tea, according to Guinness. She also likes traditional Japanese dancing.

``The key is not storing up stress,'' said her 45-year-old grandson Tsuyoshi Kurauchi. ``If you do that, you can eat or drink anything.''

Hongo had seven children, more than 20 grandchildren, and outlived her eldest daughter, who was in her 90s when she died two years ago, according to Kurauchi, who described Hongo as a ``warm, caring grandmother.''

She lives in a nursing home in Kagoshima, about 600 miles southwest of Tokyo on the island of Kyushu, which has a reputation for record-breaking longevity among its residents.

Hongo was born in the nearby town of Isen, home to the late Shigechiyo Izumi, who also held the Guinness record as the world's oldest living person. He died in 1986 at the age of 120.

Recently, another Kyushu resident was hailed as the world's oldest man.

Retired silkworm farmer Yukichi Chuganji graduated into the spot Jan. 4 with the death of his predecessor, Antonio Todde of Italy. Chuganji turns 113 on Saturday.

A government census found that about 15,000 Japanese people are over the age of 100; of those, about 80 percent are women.

Japan has the world's longest average life expectancy at 79.9, according to government figures. In comparison, the average life expectancy in the United States stands at 77.26, according to the 2001 CIA World Factbook.
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