Oldest living Japanese American shares secrets to long, fulfilling life

At 110 years old, Yoshiko Miwa’s primary piece of advice for longevity is simple: Don’t dwell on the negative

At 110 years old, Yoshiko Miwa has witnessed more than a century of history unfold. Despite enduring the Spanish flu, internment during World War II and the loss of loved ones, the oldest living Japanese American maintains a positive outlook on life. According to Today.com, her primary piece of advice for longevity is simple: Don’t dwell on the negative.

Born in 1914 to Japanese immigrants, Miwa’s early life was marked by tragedy when her mother and infant brother died. She and her siblings were sent to live at a children’s home founded by the Guadalupe Buddhist Church. Despite these difficulties, Miwa went on to graduate from high school in 1932 and then the University of California, Berkeley in 1936 with a degree in business, Gardena Valley News reported.

Unable to find work, Miwa took a job at a family member’s produce business. “Most places weren’t hiring people without experience,” her son Alan Miwa told the newspaper. “During that time she (also) received a few polite ‘we do not hire Japanese’.”

In 1942, Miwa and her family were forced into an internment camp in Poston, Arizona. Despite the harsh conditions and lack of privacy, Miwa remained resilient. After she and her relatives were released in 1945, they settled in Hawthorne, California. Faced with difficulty finding work, her family pooled money to start a plant nursery business. In 1963, Yoshiko Miwa obtained her nursing license, according to the newspaper.

Miwa’s accomplishments extend beyond her impressive work history and education. The Gardena Valley News reported she drove until age 100, speaks three languages (English, Spanish and Japanese) and took daily 4-mile walks in her early retirement years. She said her faith and gratitude toward the Buddhist community that supported her as a child has been a constant source of strength, while her love for her family — three sons, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren — has kept her energized and joyful.

One of Miwa’s most endearing quirks is her daily noodle ritual. From spaghetti to soba, her love for noodles traces back to her time in the children’s home, Miwa told Today.com, crediting this simple pleasure as having sustained her throughout her long and fulfilling life.

These days, Alan Miwa told Today.com, his mother is in good health and lives in a care facility, where she gets her hair done weekly and attends church services on Sundays.