In Japan, there exists a remarkable 92-year-old woman named Yasuko Tamaki, who has led a diligent working life since the tender age of 15. Serving the same company for an impressive 66 years, she holds a Guinness World Record as the oldest office worker in the world.
Despite being 92, Yasuko Tamaki is the epitome of a “cool grandma.” Not only is she proficient with computers, even outpacing some younger folks with Office software, but she has also penned books documenting her working life. Beyond that, she trains the younger employees in her company, practices yoga, skis, and enjoys life with a vigor that rivals many young people.
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The early years
Born in 1930, Yasuko Tamaki was the eldest sibling with three younger brothers and sisters to look after. After graduating top of her class from the former Osaka Fukushima Girls Commercial School at 15, life threw her a curveball with her father passing away and her mother falling ill, compelling her to work.
For the next 10 years, she tried her hand at various jobs, from insurance companies to textile mills, encountering quirky bosses and diverse work environments. At 25, through a recommendation, she joined a trade company in Osaka, handling accounting and general affairs. Feeling a sense of belonging, she hoped to carve her niche and realize her worth at this company that felt like home to her. As the company grew from 16 employees to a whopping 432, she remained steadfast through thick and thin, weathering both the oil crisis and financial storms. At 40, the company recognized her contributions and promoted her to the position of department head.
By 55, she was due for retirement. However, the company earnestly invited her to stay, and Yasuko Tamaki was more than willing. She continued her role, and to this day, remains dedicated, handling daily tasks like checking emails, managing salaries, creating meeting minutes, and drafting client letters. Her decades of experience make her invaluable and trustworthy.
Always learning, always growing
Over the past 40 years, she’s been responsible for training newcomers, and the younger generation adores her approachable nature. Her youthful mindset is evident in her humility, thirst for knowledge, and willingness to embrace new challenges.
One of her significant challenges arose during the ’90s when the company transitioned to computerized operations. Many found it tough, some even resigned, but Yasuko Tamaki, already past her prime, approached this with an open mind and started learning.
In a rapidly automating world, Yasuko Tamaki wasn’t swept away; she chose to ride the wave. To her, age was never a barrier to what she could achieve.
Today, she remains active, starting her mornings with yoga before commuting to work. She handles office software with ease, uses social media, and even chats with strangers online. At 70, she’d go skiing with colleagues on weekends, and by 86, she was pursuing advanced Japanese Kanji certification. Even now, beyond 90, she’s still penning books on her fascinating life journey.
A life devoted to work
Yasuko Tamaki never married. She dedicated her life to her job and remains living with her sister. While she never planned to work into her 90s, her philosophy is simple: “Work hard today, and work even harder tomorrow.” She believes every day is a fresh start.
This mindset is perhaps the secret to her ongoing contentment and happiness. For Yasuko Tamaki, working until 92 is not a task, but a joy and a testament to her life’s value.
Translated by Audrey Wang