More than 80 years of marriage has helped a Japanese couple become the new record holders for the oldest living married couple.

Masao Matsumoto (born 9 July 1910) married Miyako Sonoda (born 24 November 1917) on 20 October 1937 and officially became the Oldest living married couple, aggregate age on Wednesday 25 July aged 108 years 16 days and 100 years 243 days respectively, giving them a combined age of 208 years 259 days.

Having been together for more than 80 years, the couple now have five daughters (Etsuko, 77, Chizuyo, 75, Mitsue, 71, Emiko, 68, and Hiromi, 66), 13 grandchildren and are expecting their 25th great-grandchild in August.

However, their impressively long relationship has not always been without adversity.

Masao, left, and Miyako, right

Both born in Oita prefecture, Masao and Miyako were introduced to each other through an acquaintance.

The pair wed in 1937, but there was a chance that the marriage may not have taken place. With the intention to hold a wedding, Miyako and her family visited Masao's parents.

When they've arrived, however, Masao had not returned from another region in Japan, leaving Miyako disgruntled as the wedding had to be delayed.

Her soon-to-be husband had actually been paying off his brothers’ debt and had no money to return home. Had this marriage got called off because of this incident, then there would not have been a new Guinness World Record title.

From right: Chizuru (second daughter), Miyako, Masao, Masao's brother (name unknown), Etsuko (eldest daughter), Shige (Masao's sister)

Hardship hit the couple when Japan was involved in a series of wars.

Until the end of Second World War, Masao was called up for military service three times, having to leave Miyako and two young daughters behind. Miyako lived with a group of relatives and worked hard to raise her daughters.

Miyako was prepared for the worst, the possibility that Masao might not return. In fact, Masao was finally able to return to his family in 1946.

Having returned to his home "with only skin and bone left" - according to Miyako - Masao was overjoyed to reunite with his family.

After Masao's return, the couple had three more daughters.

However, the post-war environment meant more challenging times, as the family struggled for food and clothing.

Their daughters recall a time when their pledge of having a doll set for Hinamatsuri (Japanese traditional festival) was firmly rejected by Masao with a reply "(instead of buying dolls) five of you should just line up, that'll do".


Masao landed a job at a harbour but often had to move around Japan, meaning the family had to follow suit. Because their five daughters were born and raised in different places, they don't all share the same childhood memories.

Once their daughters had married and started their own families, Masao and Miyako were able to enjoy their married life in ways they had been unable to do previously, such as travelling around Japan and abroad together.

After moving to a rest home, the couple participates in various events and activities.

The staff there are courteous to the couple; for their 80th wedding anniversary, they found a dress for a photo shoot. For Miyako, it was like a wedding she so wanted 80 years ago.


The family are very excited about Masao and Miyako's Guinness World Record title.

Their daughters believe that their longevity is not only due to the strength of Masao, but also Miyako who had prepared great meals for the family until she was 98.

Etsuko Kawamura, their eldest daughter, pledges to live as long as their parents.


Aya Ozawa, one of their grandchildren, is also happy to have the "oldest living couple" as her grandparents.

"I'm so proud to see my favourite grandpa and grandma receive a Guinness World Records title. They looked after me well whenever I visited them during school holiday. My grandparents helped bring the big family together as we all gather in their home. I was always a "grandma's kid", and exchanged letters from elementary school until I was much older."

Speaking about Masao, Aya said she's gone from being a bit scared of him to spending time together watching sport.

"I was a little scared of my grandpa when I was younger, but when I was older, we watched baseball and played games together; he also told stories about the war. And every time we do that, I'm surprised by how sharp he is despite his age. 

"From this spring, his eyesight had got to a point where he can't watch baseball and sumo on TV, which is bringing his spirits down a little bit. I am now thinking of ways he can enjoy the games again."

When families visited the rest home to take photos with the Guinness World Records official certificate, Masao apparently said: let's go and have some udon! Udon is a traditional Japanese noodle and it is especially famous in Kagawa region. Masao took a ride on his wheelchair with the family to a nearby udon restaurant; it is his long-held tradition to treat his visitors to tasty udon.


Masao and Miyako have been confirmed as the record holders after their family submitted enough evidence to back-up their application.

The Oldest married couple, aggregate age ever are Norwegians Karl Dolven (31 August 1897-31 July 2004) and Gurdren Dolven (14 October 1900-24 April 2004) who had a combined age of 210 years 1 month 34 days when Gudrun passed away.