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I've been walking through life without a clear goal. -Why a former editor in his 40s continues to take on challenges - Toyoaki Hosoya

There are some active young farmers in Odawara. Many of them have switched from other industries to becoming farmers. The series Agricultural Eve - INTERVIEW unravels the stories of farmers before they became, which have rarely been told before, and approaches their characters.

The main character of the first episode is Toyoaki Hosoya of "Natural Farm Libra". At the age of 44, he began agricultural training in his new hometown of Odawara, and in 2022, he was finally able to achieve his long-awaited independence. We were able to interview him.

Interviewed by Liblog Editorial Department

Just decided to take a slightly different career path than most.

1975, in Hokkaido, Mr. Hosoya was born as the eldest son of the family.

His hometown, Tomakomai City, has a population of 170,000 people, making it the 11th most populous city in Hokkaido. If you mention that the city is home to Komadai Tomakomai High School, which attracted attention in 2004 due to the success of high school baseball match, some Japanese people will probably remember it.

He stayed there until he graduated from high school, after which he left for England to study abroad.

"The city where I was born and raised is not a tourist destination like Sapporo or Hakodate, nor is it extremely rural. I don't want to say anything bad about it, but it's a very unstimulating place for young people.When I was a teenager, all I thought about was wanting to graduate from high school as soon as possible and escape from this boredom.

I had a strong desire to leave my hometown as soon as possible, so thinking about my career path after graduation was secondary. I just vaguely thought, "I don't want to go to university ordinary," or "I don't want to take a job directly after after graduation. It was a time when there was far less information than there is now. With limited options, I was confused and worried."


It was his father's casual words that shone a ray of hope on his path.

"My father couldn't help but notice that I was spending my days in agony, so he suddenly said,

"If you don't have anything you want to do, why don't you go abroad?''

Apparently, his colleague's wife had studied abroad when she was a teenager, and my father used that story to advise me that there were other options.

When I heard that, I thought, "That's it !!''

Adding the essence of studying abroad led me to the conclusion. Even before that, I liked European history, and I thought that if I were to go to university, I would probably study history. So The idea learning European history in United Kingdom was the best solution for me.

...Oh my god. It sounds cool when I say that, but in reality it was just a boat for crossing. Looking back, I feel like I simply jumped at the sound of the word study abroad and decided to pursue a career path that was a little different from other people's."


Because of being a naive young man, I was able to absorb everything.

His first time abroad was not a trip, but a study abroad experience. This meant both learning and living in a foreign land.

"I have nothing but fun memories. I think I felt a sense of freedom as my long-awaited escape plan came true.

Come to think of it, the other day, I reunited with two Japanese friends from my UK days for the first time in a long while, and they said "Toyo (Mr. Hosoya's nickname) was shining at that time. It was dazzling.''

But it was more about the world. Everything I saw, heard and touched was new and exciting. I think because of being a naive young man, I was able to absorb everything.''


Mr. Hosoya says that his experience in UK is a lifelong asset.

"It's been over 20 years since then, and with the spread of the Internet, which didn't exist back then, I've been able to reconnect with friends I had lost touch with. Over the past few years, our group has grown to around 30 people. In the summer of 2019, I was able to reunite with three of them on a trip to Italy.

The experience I had while studying abroad and the friendship I still have are invaluable to me.”


After completing his studies in UK, his next field of interest was Tokyo. A new challenge for the 22-year-old was about to begin.

Worked at a small publishing company. That was the truel starting line.

"I went to Tokyo via UK, but fundamentally I was still a country person. Like many young people who come to Tokyo from rural areas because they yearn for the city, I also came to Tokyo to find my own. I started wanting to test my strength. Perhaps it was the privilege of being young, but I also had an unfounded confidence that I could do it."

"For three months after moving to Tokyo, I was looking for a job with help from my parents. Looking back, it was completely haphazard. Not to mention the geography, I was having trouble figuring out how to buy a ticket. It's nothing short of reckless for a young man who had returned from overseas to try to find a job on his own in such an unfamiliar place."


At that time, young people who could speak English were still quite rare. Armed with that, he joined a small publishing company. And that work determined his professional career.

“I had no idea that I wanted to join a publishing company or become an editor. The reason I joined that company was originally because I happened to come across a job listing in a newspaper.

It said "Overseas business trip required'' and "Personnel who can speak English'', so I decided to apply since it looked like I could do it. I didn't really think about it too much anyway.

The company published guidebooks for overseas travelers. I was assigned to the advertising sales department and tripped to the site and negotiate with advertising agencies, hotels, restaurants, etc. to secure advertising contracts. Each business trip lasted about two weeks. After that, I returned home and then went on a business trip to another country. It was a repeat of that process.

It was a busy day, but I didn't find it difficult. Fortunately, I was blessed with a boss who helped me develop as a business person. That was the true starting line for me."


Before I know it, I was faced with a series of compromises.

After that, he changed jobs several times, but he always stuck to the editing and design production fields. So-called "manufacturing group.'' Mr. Hosoya focused on producing paper media such as magazines and catalogs.

"I realized pretty early on that I wasn't cut out for sales. I liked making things more than being a selesman. I had always liked writing and drowing, so I naturally became a creator. However, since my work was centered on the client, I think the negotiation skills I had cultivated during my time as a salesman were very useful when communicating with the person in charge at the client."


Mr. Hosoya ran through his 20s and early 30s, but when he turned 36, he faced a major turning point. That was in 2012.

"I was kind of tired. As I mentioned earlier, our work was centered around clients, so we couldn't really put out what we thought was the best to the world. Of course, I knew that this was the limit of my own strength, but more than that, I think I felt trapped by the insurmountable walls of a small editing company.

I started thinking that I wanted to see a different world, so I decided to leave the company I had worked for seven years without having any plans for what to do next.''


Mr. Hosoya says with a laugh that he just had a strange amount of courage. What on earth was this "different world" he was aiming for ?

We all must not throw away our own strengths.

"Someone once told me that it doesn't matter how many times we change jobs, but we should maintain consistency. In short, if we are in the same industry or occupation, changing jobs will lead to career advancement, but we can never become a professional if we keep moving around in different industries.

So even though I thought it was a "different world,'' I had no intention of giving up my skills such as editing and design production. What I had cultivated over the past 14 years was my strenghs. I must had not throw that away. I decided to change the place (industry) where I can demonstrate my professional abilities."


He also says,

“When I decided to change my job, there was one thing that I had clearly decided in my mind. That was that I would never go back to being a subcontractor. I had been doing this for many years. I wanted to work for a company where they  run thier own business, no matter how small it might be.”


It is no doubt there is a higher level in every world.

Strong beliefs attract good luck. After all, that must be the truth.

"I've been arranging good promises, but the reality was not so easy. There was no way I would be able to find such a convenient company right away, and in the end, I submitted my application to the similar editing company as before. One of them was recruiting a chief editor for a paper catalogue. It was a company name I had never heard of, and the writing was not very vague and seemed suspicious, but well, I decided to just apply for the time being. Sooner I applied, I recieve the good responce. I passed the company's document screening, so I went for an interview, but for some reason the venue was Rakuten's head office building.

I first learned about it during the interview, but everything was handled by Rakuten. There was a project in which paper catalogs are the core of the business. Rakuten had been  an Internet media company, after all. They didn't seem to have anyone on their staff who was familiar with paper media.''


Mr. Hosoya seized the good fortune he had drawn. In the spring of 2012, it was decided that he would join the Rakuten Group as a starting member in a new food-related business. This was his first venture into the food industry.

"I have a start-up mentality. I basically like starting something from scratch. I think this was a good example of how that personality worked in a positive way. I can't express it in words, but it was very difficult. Although it was a period of great hardship and I had to sacrifice my personal time to work, I believe it was the most fulfilling period for me as a professional.

However, even though I was called the chief, I did not have absolute authority to make decisions on plans. In the end, the authority rested with the business manager. He was a person who did not tolerate compromise. I would never get an OK unless I exceed the bar that he prepared. Moreover, each week, with each issue, the bar was raised slightly.

Anyway, I was able to train. Thanks to him, I definitely improved my level. I was able to accomplish this, and I have fond memories of being recognized at Rakuten's company-wide internal awards held every month."


There are certain values ​​rooted ​​of our generation.

He left Rakuten in 2016, and worked as a freelancer after that, and now he is a farmer.

"For a long time, I vaguely thought that I would start my own business when I turned 40. I happened to become a freelancer at that age, but I think my experience at my previous job had a big influence on this. I felt that I had done everything I could within the corporate organization. Also, I had a lot of support from my friends. When I was unsure about my future, my friend advised me "Why don't you try it yourself ?''. If he had not said so, I might have continued to work as an office worker.

Our generation entered bussiness scene during a period known as the "lost Japanese 20 years,'' and spent the most important years of our career in our 20s and 30s. Some people complain that we were unlucky, but I don't think that's the case at all. In fact, I think there are things that can only be seen in times of misfortune. I'm sure that these are firmly rooted in the unique values ​​of our generation. So there's nothing to worry about."


Confidence and self-esteem are illusions.

Compete based on our own unique values. Mr. Hosoya declares this. He also says that there may be many people in their 40s who feel that they have not been able to build up confidence in their bussiness scene.

“I am one of them. Many of the things I have talked about today have become more beautiful with the passage of time. My life has been one where I have walked without a clear goal. In reality, I have been walking through a rord of ​​confusion. I've almost fell down many times.

I think self-confidence and self-esteem are illusions. They're not things you can have forever. I think they're only reflected in your mind when you think you're successful. If we still want something, we must continue to challenge ourselves. Success can only come after challenges and failures."


Mr. Hosoya added at the end of the interview that after 46 years of living, he felt like he had finally achieved something that felt like a goal. We can't take our eyes off his new challenge, Natural Farm Libra.

*As of March 1, 2024, Natural Farm Libra changed its name to Libra Farm.

Interviewed by Liblog Editorial Department