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OB Stories Special Edition: President Toshio HIRANO Vol. 2

The Ancient Vestige Left by the Streets of Anryu

After leaving the Sumiyoshi Taisha behind, we hopped on the Hankai Tramway and headed south.

Hirano: I went to school by tramway during junior and senior high school. The view hasn’t really changed all that much.

We got off at the stop right in front of the Yamato River. This “Anryu-cho” was the place where President Hirano was born and raised. It developed as a shrine town for the Sumiyoshi Taisha from the Edo Period.

Hirano: This town gets its name from NAKARAI Anryu, a benevolent doctor from the beginning of the Edo Period. He devoted his medical knowledge for the good of the common people, which translates to what OGATA Koan did when he opened Tekijuku. 

Even now, lattice doors and earthen walls can be seen at every door in this old town, a relic of the former Kishu-Kaido, a route between Osaka and Wakayama. We pass through the Anryu Shopping Avenue, a place that President Hirano has been familiar with since he was a child, and a place connected with the story of Issun-boshi.

Hirano: There were a lot more customers back in the day. At the time, everyone worked until December 31, and then had to do shopping for New Year’s that same night, so this shopping avenue was quite lively until very late on New Year’s Eve. 

When we exited the shopping avenue and headed north, we were met with an inscription of Arare Matsubara, (a place that used to be a resort area with white sand and beautiful pine trees), that appeared in the Manyoshu, and Osaka City Anryu Elementary School came into our view.

Hirano: My classroom was right around here. The school has been rebuilt, though.

As he looked at the school building, President Hirano nostalgically remembered his days in school. We then headed towards President Hirano’s childhood home, a three-story house along the road continuing from the shopping avenue. Not very wide but it continues way back.

Hirano: My father opened the Hirano Clinic here, but the clinic closed when my father passed away in 1985. It could be because I was raised in an environment surrounded by medicine, but I was naturally inclined to pursue the path of medicine. My father didn’t even particularly mention that he wanted me to continue his legacy or anything like that.

The Importance of Family

President Hirano’s wife, Chiyoko, was his junior at junior and senior high school, and they also attended the same violin school.

Mrs. Hirano: Even after we got married he was engrossed in his research.

So from the beginning, it felt like I was married to a student studying for exams. (laughs) He was dedicated to his work, but his two daughters, his parents, really his whole family was always very important to him. When he saw our daughters having their teenage problems, he would sometimes send them a mail to see if they were okay.

I feel as though I got a look at a side of President Hirano that really showed his devotion to his family. In the room, there was a record player that President Hirano had since he was a student. He mentioned that listening to music really helps to lift him up when he’s feeling weary.
President Hirano also showed us his study, which contained novels by authors like Haruki MURAKAMI and Ryotaro SHIBA, as well as Osamu TEZUKA’s manga and various hobby magazines.

Hirano: I like driving, so I read books about driving as well. I used to take drives with my wife on my days off, but I don’t really have too many of those anymore. (laughs)

When we proceeded to the roof, one could see Abeno Harukas and Mt. Kongo in the distance. He had a few outdoor chairs on the roof from when he used to go camping with his family.

Hirano: We used to eat quite often on the roof when my daughters were younger. Now I often come here to gaze at the sunset when I need to just think about things. (Pointing at the annex) I used to use the guest house that was built when I was in high school to do stargazing from the roof.

It seemed as though the President really took a liking to his roof. Finally, we asked him what he would be doing if he didn’t become president.

Hirano: I’d probably still be a researcher.

In Closing

President Hirano was elected to become president on June 10, 2011, and June 10 just happens to be the same date that a former president of Osaka University, and President Hirano’s former teacher, YAMAMURA Yuichi, had passed away. He feels like it was perhaps the mandate of heaven. With the words of Professor Yamamura, “Dream and do, think and pray” by his side, he tells Osaka University students, all his juniors, to “Climb the mountain that lies before you” and “Dreams exist to come true.” 7 years ago, after he underwent surgery on cancer in his lung, he decided to devote the remainder of his life to Osaka University. The path to becoming a “top 10 world university” may be a long and rugged one, but he’ll keep on climbing. This is President Hirano’s repayment to his alma mater, Osaka University.

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