People | 20 QUESTIONS

Naoto Hirooka: 'I say sprint while you can'

by Samuel Thomas

Special To The Japan Times

Name: Naoto Hirooka
Age: 38
Nationality: Japanese
Occupation: Fashion designer at h. Naoto
Likes: Running
Dislikes: Having too much time on my hands

1. What does the kanji in your name — 直人 — mean? Someone who toes the line.

2. What did you want to be when you were growing up? A street-fighting police officer who acts like (martial artist) Jackie Chan.

3. Is there a person you admire? I can’t pick one. I admire so many people for so many different reasons.

4. What do you do to unwind? I like to explore different neighborhoods for research.

5. What’s your favorite Japanese word or phrase? “偉大になる (“Idai ni naru”) — “become great.”

6. What makes you proud? When I can make people around me happy.

7. What is your favorite color? Pink, but not a sweet pink — a really sharp, shocking pink. I like the fact that it always leaves a really vivid striking impression.

8. What’s the most daring thing you have ever done? I once held a fashion show in Tokyo Dome as part of an X Japan (heavy metal) revival show.

9. What’s the strangest request you’ve ever been asked in your line of work? Yoshiki from X Japan asked me to design his stage outfits, but completely left it up to me. I had no idea what to make for him!

10. If you weren’t a fashion designer, what would you be? A totally average dad who enjoys keeping his garden in order.

11. If you could go out drinking with anyone from history, who would it be? (Shogun) Tokugawa Ieyasu, (Italian polymath) Leonardo da Vinci, (German-born theoretical physicist) Albert Einstein and (American inventor) Thomas Edison, but maybe not all at once.

12. What song best describes you? “Stories” by Japanese pop rock band Tube. I remember listening to it late at night during the summer when I was in middle school. I played soccer and before a big match I would get so nervous I just couldn’t sleep. I guess I always want to return to that time.

13. Where do you look to find inspiration? I just keep looking deeper and deeper in my own head.

14. What is your favorite item of clothing? T-shirts.

15. What comic or manga hero would you want to be? Monkey D. Luffy from the “One Piece” manga. He is full of charisma and potential, and along his way aiming to become the pirate king he grows so much as a person. I like to apply that to the way I try and build up leadership myself.

16. What do you think about while standing on the train? I spend all my time on social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Weibo promoting my brand.

17. If you won the lottery in Japan, what would you do with the money? I would invest it in my brand.

18. What is your biggest fear? To lose my raison d’etre.

19. Do you have any words of advice for young people? The world is such a big place that even if you run with all your might you won’t see it all. I say sprint while you can.

21. What is next for you? I want to build my own town.

For more information on avant-garde fashion design house h. Naoto, visit

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