Shigesato Itoi (糸井 重里 Itoi Shigesato, born November 10, 1948) is one of the most influential cultural figures in Japan, known for his copywriting, essays, lyrics, Nintendo game creation, and for his role as editor-in-chief of his popular website “Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shinbun” (‘Almost’ Daily Itoi News). He is best known outside of Japan as a game designer for his work on Nintendo's EarthBound series of games, as well as his bass fishing video game.
Itoi, writing copy for advertisements in the 1980s, established the profession among the general public in Japan. The phrases from his ads were quoted as regularly as a best-selling song would have been. Multi-talented Itoi quickly expanded his horizons into essays, lyrics, and eventually to Nintendo game creation. He is best known in the US for Nintendo's MOTHER 2, released in 1994 in Japan and in 1995 in North America (as Earthbound).
He has voiced Mei and Satsuki's father, Tatsuo Kusakabe, in the Japanese version of the My Neighbor Totoro anime film, has been a judge on a few episodes of the Japanese shows Iron Chef and Hey! Spring of Trivia, and has also co-authored a collection of short stories titled Yume de aimashou ("Let's meet in a dream") with writer Haruki Murakami.
In 1997, Itoi met the Internet, bought his first Mac, and in 1998 opened the website “Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shinbun” (“Almost Daily Itoi News”), which is the center of his activity today. Under the theme “creating good mood,” the website has been updated every day for the past fifteen years, with Itoi’s own essays on lifestyle, interviews and articles, and merchandise sales. He talks about his dog, Bouillon, and also his interviews with artists, craftsmen, businessmen, etc., which tend to center on philosophical issues. Itoi has also co-written several books modeled on these interviews, in which he has a series of long conversations with, for example, an expert on neurology (Kaiba "The Hippocampus"), about how to live as a human being in the world.
His latest book, Atama no naka ni aru kouen ("A park in your mind"), is the fourth anthology issue of writings collected from the Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shinbun. "Hobo Nichi" (as it is called) provides its articles for free without any advertisement on the website. Merchandising of original lifestyle goods and publishing are the main business. The Hobonichi Day Planner, selling 342 thousand units, is Japan’s best-selling in the category. Other products include T-shirts, towels, “Haramaki” (belly warmer), calendars, and pottery.
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