Each week, here at Osaka.com, we bring you a selection of some of the top stories about Osaka making the local and national news here in Japan. Sometimes it’s serious, sometimes it’s funny, but it’s always direct to you, from Osaka.
Here’s a look at some of the stories hitting the headlines in Osaka this week
Table of Contents
Oldest Person in Japan, Fusa Tatsumi Dies at 116
We begin today with some somber news. Fusa Tatsumi, the oldest person in Japan, passed away this week. She was 116. Born in 1907, a full five years before The Titanic made its single, fateful voyage, Tatsumi lived through a period of tremendous change for Osaka and indeed for all of Japan. Her parents were old enough to have seen samurai walking down the streets, in the final days before the Meiji Restoration. Later, Tatsumi herself would survive two world wars, the second of which saw Osaka devastated by aerial bombings. She takes her place in history as the 5th oldest Japanese ever to have lived. The longest lived Japanese person, according to current records is Kane Tanaka. Tanaka, a former resident of Fukuoka Prefecture, died in 2022 at the age of 119. The oldest Osaka resident to have ever lived is still Misao Okawa. Okawa, who lived in Osaka City most of her life, passed away in 2015 at the age of 117. Okawa sits just above Tatsumi at number 4 in the all-time oldest Japanese rankings.
Another Osaka Native Inherits Title of Japan’s Oldest Person
Despite the sad passing of Fusa Tatsumi this week, the title of oldest person in Japan passed to someone not too far away. With Tatsumi moving on from this world, the oldest living person in Japan is now Tomiko Itooka. Itooka, who now lives in Ashiya City, Hyogo Prefecture, was also born in Osaka. At a sprightly 115 years, 201 days old, she’ll hopefully be with us for quite some time yet. Itooka hasn’t yet heard the news that she is now the oldest in Japan. Staff at the care home where she now resides want to wait until she recovers from a bought of flu before giving her the news. Despite her advanced years, Itooka remains in good health for her age. Some believe she may even live long enough to become Japan’s oldest ever citizen.
However, Itooka still has quite a way to go to claim the world record for oldest person ever. That title resides with Jeanne Louise Calment, a French supercentenarian who passed away in 1997 at the age of 122.
Osaka has a history of long-lived residents. Two of the 5 oldest Japanese of all time came from Osaka. A total of 3, including Itooka are in the top 10. This is more than any other prefecture. Itooka credits her own longevity to eating plenty of fresh fish, alongside regular drinks of Calpis, a popular, extremely sweet soft drink.
Cannabinoids Found in Osaka Shops
The medicinal benefits of Calpis remain a hotly contested topic. However, on the more serious side of medical science, debate continues to rage across Osaka this week as to the benefits and dangers of Cannabis and its various derivatives. Recently, we spoke about a number of hospitalizations across Japan linked to HHCH, a cannabis derivative. Several people in the prefecture have taken ill in recent months after consuming the drug in gummy sweets.
As a result, HHCH was designated an illicit substance by the Japanese government late last month.
Since then, police across Japan have sought to crack down on the drug’s use.
The results of this endeavor became public this week. Osaka Police announced earlier this week that searches of 4 locations in the city turned up 16 different variants of HHCH. The premises in question are currently closed, pending further investigations. The owners will point to the fact that the items were not illegal at the time they acquired them. However, given the perceived threat to public safety, they may still face sanctions for failing to withdraw the items from sale at the appropriate time.
Meanwhile, the government also moved last week to allow further research into medical applications for cannabis. In particular, its use as a treatment for chronic pain and very specific forms of epilepsy.
One of the oldest and most beloved characters in video game history will return to Osaka in the New Year.
Donkey Kong, one of the earliest characters created by Nintendo, will get his own area at Universal Studios Japan from Spring. Nintendo already has a dedicated, Nintendo Land area within the sprawling theme park. Donkey Kong’s new home will be part of this. The affable ape will take his place alongside the likes of Mario, Luigi and Koopa in Nintendo Land in early 2024.
That’s all for now but be sure to check back again same time next week for another round of this week in Osaka!