Nobel medicine laureate Tasuku Honjo visits longtime barber ahead of ceremony

Kyodo

Nobel Prize-winning Japanese scientist Tasuku Honjo stopped in over the weekend at a Kyoto barbershop he has been visiting for over half a century as he prepares for his trip to Stockholm next week for the award ceremony.

On Sunday, the 76-year-old, who won this year’s Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine along with American James Allison for their studies on cancer therapy, was seen at the shop in Kyoto chatting with his 81-year-old longtime barber.

“Hey, your hands are shaky. Haven’t you ever thought of retiring?” the professor emeritus at Kyoto University asked barber Koichi Ueda, who works with his son at the Biriken barber shop near the university.

“He was the kind of student who did not hesitate to speak up about his opinions,” Ueda said about his impression of Honjo back when he first came to the shop.

Their discussions while Honjo was in the barber’s chair ranged from the student uprisings of the 1970s to baseball.

“He is a skilled listener. It’s fun chatting with him,” Ueda said. “I was so happy for him to win the prize.”

Honjo became the 26th Japanese Nobel prize winner and is best known for his discovery of a protein that led to the development of an immunotherapeutic drug against cancer.