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I am a freelance writer for newspapers,magazines as well as a journalist for TV.
I am from Tokyo, Japan and have been living in Los Angeles since 1990.

#191- A sense of failure or A sense of success?

The other day, I was very happy to hear about the news that Shinya Yamanaka, the Kyoto University professor, won this year's Nobel Prize in Medicine for developing induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells that can differentiate into various organs and tissues.

"The more you fail, the more opportunities will come your way. So while you're still young, make many mistakes and suffer setbacks", Nobel Prize laureate Shinya Yamanaka said at a forum organized by The Yomiuri Shimbun (Japanese major newspaper) at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Meguro Ward, Tokyo on last Friday.

He also spoke about his belief in younger generations, "You'll find success after failing about 90 percent of the time. It's the same in life and experiments. I can say this based on experience. Making a lot of mistakes when you're young is nothing to be ashamed about."

I agree with him, and I also think that it doesn’t matter about our age. "Anything is possible" in anytime for anyone with any age.


I love Shinya Yamanaka’s episodes.


#1- Failure is not a bad thing:

Shinya Yamanaka lived his dream of becoming an orthopedic surgeon, a man who could heal the injuries of athletes and allow them to return to action. But he was lousy at the job.

Between 1987 and 1989, Yamanaka was a resident in orthopedic surgery at the National Osaka Hospital. His first operation, was removing a benign tumor from his friend Shuichi Hirata, a task he could not complete after one hour, when a skilled surgeon would take ten minutes or so. Some seniors referred to him as "Jamanaka (Yamanaka = Jamanaka)",  "Jama" is a pun on the Japanese word for obstacle.

After this experience, he found his dream job!


#2- Again, failure is not a bad thing:

Yamanaka came up against a wall after he returned (from U.S.A.) to his home country to work at Osaka City University. It was a far cry from the United States, where someone was hired exclusively to take care of the mice.

Between 1996 and 1999, he was an assistant professor at Osaka City University Medical School, but found himself mostly looking after mice in the laboratory, not doing actual research. "Why am I changing mice cages all the time," he asked himself. From a laboratory window, he could see his daughter on her way from school.

He became disinclined to commute to the laboratory. Once an early riser at 6 a.m., he found that he could not leave his bed until 9 a.m.


#3- It’s better to follow your instinct:

His wife, Chika, a dermatologist, became worried. "Why don’t you become a practicing physician," she suggested.

Instead, Yamanaka applied for an assistant professor post at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology in 1999. He said he thought about giving up his career as a researcher if he did not get the job. He stated that he could and would clarify the characteristics of embryonic stem cells, and this can-do attitude won him the job.

From 1999–2003, he was an associate professor there, and started the research that would later win him the 2012 Nobel Prize.


#4- Passion is the key to success:

Kunio Yasuda, former president of the university who sat on the selection committee, recalled that Yamanaka appeared to be someone who accepted challenges while the other applicants mostly chose research topics whose results would become clear in several years.

"To one question, Yamanaka was the only person who not only said he 'can,' but also that he 'will,' Yasuda said. "He was the best applicant in terms of personality and motivation."

Moreover, Yamanaka took part in the 2012 Tokyo Marathon to raise money for iPS research, finishing in 4:03:19.


#5- Love brings happiness and success:

His high school sweetheart is his wife (cute story!), and he is appreciating family’s support for his success. He lost his father, but his step father (who is a doctor) helped his study.

And he also said that he is very happy to bring happy news (2012 Nobel Prize) to his mother (who is 81 years old).


#6- Gratitude is the key word for everything:

He appreciates Japan and his staff & his family. He is a very humble & sweet guy.

"Not only I, but Japan as a whole, received the prize", and  "I am grateful that the backing from the ministry has promoted the field of research across Japan and led to the winning of the Nobel Prize".


#7- Creative mind works to get people’s attention:

He named "iPS" instead of "induced pluripotent stem cell", because "iPhone" is very popular for people, so he thought "iPS" is a nice name to recognize to people in the world.

He is a very creative & unique thinker.


#8- His goal is for people in the world:

He said in the phone interview with, "I will bring this technology to clinics. I really want to help as many patients as possible. As you may know, I started my career as a surgeon 25 years ago. But it turned out that I am not talented as a surgeon. So I decided to change my career, from clinics to laboratories. But I still feel that I am a doctor, I am a physician, so I really want to help patients. So my goal, all my life, is to bring this technology, stem cell technology to the bedside, to patients, to clinics."


I am thinking about myself…


#1- Failure is not a bad thing:

After I failed the job interview with a president of the advertising company (this company has over 100 years history) in 1985, I wrote an essay and I negotiated with this president and I got a dream job (a female salesperson / at that time, there were a few female salesperson in Japan).


#2- Again, failure is not a bad thing:

I got a freelance writer job without any experience ( I was a lucky girl!), but I had a "The Devil Wears Prada" moment with a famous chief editor at "anan" (at that time, "anan" was the most stylish fashion magazine in Japan)…

At the same time, "Men’s world" supported me… I mean, I was a freelance writer for "Men’s Club" (similar to GQ) as well.


#3- It’s better to follow my instinct:

I made up my mind to leave Japan… yes, I thought U.S. will be my dream country!

And I got a job at Entrepreneur Magazine as a staff writer!


#4- Passion is the key to success:

I love what I do as a writer.

Even though, after recession, my projects are getting less and less, I appreciate what I have now.

And in my free time, I can write my novels and scripts :) The recession is not bad for me for now.


#5- Love brings happiness and success:

My mother is a great cheerleader for me.

When I was a reporter for NHK radio show for 6 years, during that time, she always said to me, "You are the best! Your report is the best!".

Even though my novels are not published yet, my mother always says to me, "Your novels are very good! Your writings will make people happy! ".


#6- Gratitude is the key word for everything:  

When I receive a Nobel Prize for literature , my speech will be like this, "I thank you to my mother who always believes in me, and I thank you to my readers in the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you!"


#7- Creative mind works to get people’s attention:

I hope my message will bring happiness and peace in the world…


#8- My goal is for people in the world:

As I wrote a post ("Dear Anne Frank"  ( , my goal is "I will make many people happy with my writings".


Did I make you happy today? I hope I did :)

Happy every day to you!

By Yoko Fujimoto
Los Angeles Oct 14, 2012
Copyright © 2012 Yoko Fujimoto

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Enjoy :)

Published on July 13, 2015 (in Japan)
By Yoko Fujimoto
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