The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

Home > Education > People



Is his dream to be the owner of a spaceship?
From the woods of Waseda to the sea of space!

Mr. Noriaki Inami

"By doing space travel, I want to tell children that if they do their best, their dreams will come true," says Mr. Inami in a lively voice. He plans to participate in space travel sponsored by Virgin Galactic as the first Japanese private space traveler in 2012.

When he was a high school student, he read a science magazine, Newton, and became interested in space. He entered Hirosaki University, and then the Graduate School of Science, Nagoya University, and majored in physics and particle astrophysics. His turning point in life came in 2005. He made an application for the single slot for Japanese people for space travel, thinking, "I probably won't win," but he actually won the lottery. "At that time, there was no concept of space travel. There was news about an accident in which insulation material of a space shuttle had fallen off, and people thought going to space meant danger. Why take a risk and pay money for it? It was not normal. My parents were against it. But my curiosity to go to space and look at the earth from there overcame my fear and anxiety." He says that after winning the prize, he has been able to have a wide variety of experiences and met many different people. "I experienced what an ordinary salary man cannot do. In fact, I met a woman who later became my wife. Thanks to winning the prize to go to space (laughing)," says Mr. Inami a little shyly. The fee for space travel is 200,000 US dollars (about 22.2 million yen). How was the money raised? "I did asset management using what I had thriftily saved from earnings from my part time and full-time job." Isn't it difficult to manage assets? "It was interesting. Thanks to this experience, I got interested in finance and decided to get an MBA (Master of Business Administration)." He immediately visited the Graduate School of Finance, Accounting and Law of Waseda University, close to his workplace. "Everything I wanted to learn was there!" He decided then and there to enter the school.

With a spaceship

"I have come to learn that investment is in fact study. In Professor Jun Uno's "Virtual Market Experiment," you can have hands-on experience of investment. For example, you can buy out a company and sell it immediately. You cannot do this in an actual market. And then we discuss the outcome in the class. You'll never experience this anywhere else!" Mr. Inami talks about his impression of Waseda, and there is a light in his eyes. "Another impressive thing is the large network of contacts at Waseda. And the strong love for the school! When going to karaoke with classmates, everyone sings 'Blue Sky Waseda,' while raising their fists. At first, I was surprised, but now I sing the song enthusiastically, raising my fists, too (laughing)."

Mr. Inami has two dreams. "One is to take advantage of what I am learning now to run a company and contribute to society. The other is to run a business to make space travel familiar and provide dreams to children. In fact, as part of this, I am making a spaceship with my friends." A spaceship? "Yes, at this moment, it is only a hobby. The number of people who can actually become astronauts is limited, and in reality, space travel needs an enormous amount of money. So in the future, I want to realize an age in which going to space will become affordable and something familiar, enabling the general public go to space!" says Mr. Inami earnestly.

This year, the Waseda Festival has a space travel event. (See below). "Be sure to see the video of gravity training to withstand 6G and zero gravity training at 0G! Through this event, I hope Waseda students can become familiar with space travel." Mr. Inami, who talks about his dream, can probably see the future where people casually travel in space.
(*) The period of space travel is scheduled.

With Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Group and his wife

Spaceship Mr. Inami takes a ride

Training in zero gravity

Introducing the latest space travel
A Waseda student is finally going to space!

Date: November 7 (Sunday) 15:00~17:00 (Doors opens at 14:30)
Place: Classroom #102, 15th Building, Waseda campus
MC: Standup Comic Ad-Balloon from Aomori (Audience is sure to be entertained with dreams and laughter).
Guest: Mr. Shinya Matsuura (Non-fiction writer; "Why Do Domestic Rockets crash?");
Hakamada (WLSJ. The first civilian challenges the lunar exploration, targeting winning the world's biggest race with a prize of three billion dollars, Google Lunar X PRIZE.)
Supported by: Beauty salon miq (Participants at the event can get a hair cut for 2,000 yen, half the regular fee, at the Takatanobaba Salon of miq!)

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Noriaki Inami

Born in Aichi Prefecture in 1977. Graduated from Aichi Prefectural Ichinomiyanishi High School, Department of Physics, Faculty of Science and Technology, Hirosaki University, and after majoring in particle astrophysics at the Graduate School of Science, Nagoya University joined IBM Japan. He won the prize of a slot for Japan of "Space Travel" sponsored by Virgin Galactic in 2005. Currently a 1st year student of the Graduate School of Finance, Accounting and Law, Waseda University. As the father of a son, he takes care of household chores and rearing his child and spends fulfilling days studying management. His special skill is cooking. "I love Chinese food. My family praises my stewed cubes of pork and chiaotzu." His favorite director is Stanley Kubrick. "In my space travel in 2012, I will bring a Waseda bear with me (laughing)."