100-year-old world’s oldest female beauty advisor enjoys working

Centenarian Tomoko Horino, from Fukushima City, started working as a cosmetics saleswoman at the age of 37 after being recommended by an acquaintance.

Yumu Yamaguchi

Yumu Yamaguchi

The Japan News


Tomoko Horino in Fukushima City. PHOTO: THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN

September 19, 2023

FUKUSHIMA – Centenarian Tomoko Horino, who was recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest female beauty advisor in August, remains active as a saleswoman for Tokyo-based leading cosmetics company Pola Inc.

“I want to keep working as long as life lasts,” Horino said.

Horino, from Fukushima City, started working as a cosmetics saleswoman at the age of 37 after being recommended by an acquaintance. She carried out door-to-door sales at municipality-run housing complexes, and said she was sustained by seeing the joy on her customers’ faces and being told, “I’m so happy to have smooth skin.” She recalls she never thought her work was hard.

During the war, when food was scarce, Horino and her grandmother traveled to farms to buy rice and potatoes. Since riding the train would have risked their food being found and taken away by police officers, the two walked dozens of kilometers to get home. Her four siblings were waiting at home, but the food was not enough and her family struggled to survive, Horino recalled. Such hardships in her youth serve as the basis for her physical strength to work as a salesperson today.

A long life creates more occasions to say farewell to people who are close: Her husband, Keiichi — whom Horino was married to for about 60 years — passed away in 2006 at age 82.

Keiichi was a year younger than Horino and was her relative. According to Horino, her siblings used to call her “Ne-chan” (Sis), and Keiichi had seen how her siblings loved her, so he told her father, “I want ‘Ne-chan’ to marry me.”

Keiichi worked for the prefectural government office. After retirement, he offered to drive Horino to her client’s houses.

“I guess he didn’t want to stay home alone. He’d get lonely easily, and I loved him after all,” she said.

As they reached their 80s, her clients passed away one after another, and Horino now has eight clients.

However, she got a new customer a few years ago. When she was 97, Horino fell over and was hospitalized. In the hospital, she was washing her face in a lavatory and struck up a conversation with a patient, who ended up buying some cosmetics from her.

Horino’s routine is to watch news at the end of every day to make sure she doesn’t run out of topics for conversation with customers. Recently, she stayed up late watching the men’s World Cup basketball game on TV, provoking laughter from her eldest daughter who told her, “You are so young!”

When asked what the secret is to keep working energetically for a long time, Horino said: “I don’t set a goal of working, for example, until I turn 100. I’m just enjoying living in a natural way.”

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