96-year-old Japanese man recognized as world's oldest graduate

Kyodo News

Posted at Jun 04 2016 01:15 PM

Shigemi Hirata, 96, poses for a photo at his home on June 3, 2016, with a Guinness World Records certificate recognizing him as the world's oldest graduate.Kyodo

TAKAMATSU, Japan - A 96-year-old man in western Japan expressed his joy on Friday at being recognized as the world's oldest university graduate.

"I am genuinely happy. Learning is always fun at any age," said Shigemi Hirata, who met reporters at his home in Takamatsu, showing his new Guinness World Records certificate.

Born on Sept. 1, 1919, Hirata received a Bachelor of Arts degree in March aged 96 years and 200 days from the Kyoto University of Art and Design, having taken 11 years to complete a ceramic arts course.

Hirata enrolled in the university's correspondence study program in 2005 when he was 85 to pursue the study of pottery, a hobby he took up after becoming a pensioner. Although most of his studies were done at home, he occasionally attended classes at the university's campus in Kyoto.

"My longevity is something like destiny. I am blessed with people (I have met)," said Hirata, who has two children, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Born in neighboring Hiroshima Prefecture, Hirata was in the navy during World War II and worked in a hospital after the war.

"My next goal is to live until 100," he said, before cracking a joke. "If I'm still in good shape at the time, I will consider going to graduate school."