Next year, Yasushi Hirano will be celebrating his 20th anniversary in his adopted country of Austria. The 42-year-old bass-baritone opera singer decided to move to Vienna in 2000 shortly after graduating from Nihon University College of Art. It was a relatively easy decision that he says was partly inspired by two iconic Japanese sportsmen, soccer player Hidetoshi Nakata and baseball player Hideo Nomo, who were both making waves overseas at the time.

“It was really encouraging to see these fellow countrymen succeeding on the international stage,” Hirano says during a recent interview. “Nakata was making headlines for his performances in Italy and Nomo had become a star pitcher in Major League Baseball. It made me think that it would be great if I could go abroad myself and somehow represent Japan.

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