Mr. Akira Hirobe
Asatsu DK Co. Ltd.
After passing through the reception area of Asatsu DK (ADK) Head Office in Tsukiji, Tokyo, we were at first overwhelmed by Akira Hirobe who was waiting for us in the room we were shown to.
Measuring 191cm in height and weighing 100kg, looking up at this great man, the reporter meeting him for the first time was somewhat nervous. However once seated and talks began, this feeling soon disappeared as Hirobe spoke very politely and provided easy to understand answers.
In charge of a large electronics maker's advertisements
- Arrives at work 2 hours early for study
The main job at the advertising firm is mediating between companies (clients) that want to display media and promotions in television, newspapers and magazines, etc with those that provide the advertising space. Hirobe, who is working in the Number 1 Sales Department, is in charge of a large electronics maker's advertisements.
Work at the company begins at 9:30am; however Hirobe arrives at work every day 2 hours earlier at 7:30am. He says that this is the most relaxing time of the day, so he spends it reading books. Right now he is studying about business. Hirobe takes on everything with a positive attitude, always looking to the future. After finishing work, he returns home each night around 10:00pm.
Hirobe says that when he was a 3rd year university student, he read Ryoma Ga Yuku and Touge written by Ryotaro Shiba, both of which are long historical novel set in the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and it inspired him to enter the advertising world. Hirobe says, "After the black ships arrived in Japan in the closing days of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Japan moved toward becoming an open country, and it led to the Meiji Restoration. I drew a parallel between advertising and the black ships in that advertising brings new ideas to our society."
Rugby clubs at High School and University
- Thinking about what one can do by oneself
One can tell from his physic that Hirobe was once a rugby player. He began rugby in his first year at high school, and spent 4 years in the rugby club while at Chuo University. He played lock in the forwards. Hirobe says, "Rugby is often said to be like a brawl with rules. However, rugby is a gentlemanly sport with an appeal that after a game we shake hands with the opposing team and there are no longer sides between us."
Hirobe's positive attitude was apparent when he began rugby in his first year at high school. At the time, he was in the soccer club, and one day saw the rugby team completely covered in mud yet still training as a single team. This led him to change to the rugby team. He said that he thought he wanted to do something that he could push himself further.
He practiced eagerly in the rugby club, and he became team captain in his 3rd year in high school. However, a significant change came for Hirobe, who spent every day as if addicted to rugby. In the winter of 2nd year at the high school, a good friend who transferred with Hirobe from the soccer club to the rugby club and with whom he trained was killed in a traffic accident.
This was very sudden and Hirobe says that he was greatly shocked by it. At the time, the parents of his friend who had died told Hirobe, "We want you to enjoy living in the present moment." It is those words that made him ask himself, "What can I do now for my deceased friend?"
Self paid study abroad in Australia
- Rugby at Sydney University
Thanks to the words of the parents of his friend, and although he had contemplated giving it up, Hirobe decided to continue with rugby. Then, on the advice of his high school advisor, he progressed to Chuo University and entered the rugby club.
Life in the university rugby club was harder than he imagined and he especially recalls that the senior to junior relations in the dormitory were very strict. However, having studied those relationships, which he had not experienced until that time, he appreciates them now that he is working as he can apply those experiences in his job.
Hirobe, who remains positive about anything, studied abroad in Australia for half a year from April of his 2nd year to January of the following year. While studying English in a language school, he also entered a rugby team through an introduction by a Chuo University coach and was able to experience the game in a rugby nation.
"Placing myself in a society with a lifestyle completely different to that of Japan, I was faced with culture shock. However I tried things that I couldn't if in Japan, and gained many new experiences."
Learning how to live by reading many books
- Keeping in mind Expression and Appreciation
Hirobe who spent his university life inseparable from rugby, however he decided not to try and promote himself as an athlete when job hunting. He focused his job hunting on the advertising world, and wanted people to notice his true inner being.
There was a reason for this. Hirobe was a bookworm, influenced by his parents who also liked books. From the time he was at high school he always had a book close at hand. He says that a good thing about books is that they bring people together, and he is confident that he has gained his ability to think through his reading of books.
While talking about this, he pulled out one book that he says he was extremely impressed by, Hizoku no Saino by Reiji Yamada. "Many students today find safety in numbers, however, after reading this book, I came to realize that I wanted to become a person who doesn't live in a group and who can find values outside of the mainstream."
When asked, what was necessary to be your own individual, without forming a group and not being driven along by other people, he answered, "I'm aware of and acting upon expression and appreciation."
The idea is that whenever you express an idea and someone sees that, whether good or bad, another expression will be come back at you in the form of a response and from this you are able to make your own personal mark. Regarding appreciation, Hirobe goes on to explain that personalities can be formed through experiences, and that we should appreciate those people and environments through which we have gained our experiences.
Independence: The way of living without belonging to any groups
- Daringly having one's personal ideas
"Having different thoughts and ideas which are different from others is probably difficult. However, when we express our thoughts without forgetting to appreciate others, then nothing is so difficult."
Stressing these ideas, near the end of the interview, Hirobe turned the conversation toward Chuo University students and encouraged, "Don't belong to any groups, but become independent. Feel the courage to become independent and think what you can do by yourself."
Offered By: Hakumon Chuo 2012 Spring Issue
Student Reporter: Yuki Nomura; 2nd year student in the Faculty of Economics