Toyohiro Akiyama


Toyohiro Akiyama
Toyohiro Akiyama in 1990
Born (1942-06-22) 22 June 1942 (age 79)
Tokyo, Japan
Other namesSpace Journalist,[1][2]
Space antihero[3]
Alma mater
OccupationJournalist (TBS), Professor at Kyoto University of Art and Design

Order friendship of peoples rib.png

Medal For Merit in an Space Exploration (Russia 2010) ribbon.svg
Space career
TBS Research Cosmonaut
Time in space
7d 21h 54min 40sec
SelectionSoyuz TM-11 mission
MissionsSoyuz TM-11 / Soyuz TM-10
Mission insignia
Soyuz TM-11 patch.png
  • Kyoko Akiyama
    (m. 1970; div. 1995)
Children2: Ken (son), Naoko (daughter)
Toyohiro Akiyama's signature

Toyohiro Akiyama (秋山 豊寛, Akiyama Toyohiro, born 22 July 1942) is a retired Japanese TV journalist and professor at Kyoto University of Art and Design. In December 1990, he spent seven days aboard the Mir space station.[4] He became the first person of Japanese nationality to fly in space,[5] and his space mission was the second spaceflight to be commercially sponsored and funded.[4] Akiyama was also the first civilian to use commercial space flight, and the first journalist to report from outer space.[2][1]

Education and career

Akiyama interview with President Reagan as TBS chief correspondent (29 April 1985)

Akiyama attended and earned his bachelor's degree at the International Christian University located in Mitaka, Tokyo. He then joined the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) as a journalist in 1966. He worked for the BBC World Service from 1967-1971 before becoming a correspondent for the TBS Division of Foreign News. From 1984 to 1988, he served as TBS chief correspondent in Washington D.C.[4][5]

Space training

On August 17, 1989, Akiyama was selected for a commercial Soviet-Japanese flight. The flight was sponsored by the TBS Corporation to celebrate its fortieth anniversary.[6] The amount that the corporation paid for the flight of its employee differs significantly from one source to another (28 million US dollars,[7] 25 million,[8] 5 billion yen or 37 million US dollars[9]). Akiyama started training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in October 1989.


Portrait art of Toyohiro Akiyama

TBS wanted to send the first Japanese to space in order to boost their TV ratings.[3] 163 TBS employees applied for the opportunity to fly to space. Eventually, Akiyama and camerawoman Ryoko Kikuchi were selected as the two final candidates. When Kikuchi developed a case of appendicitis a week before launch, Akiyama was selected for cosmonaut training and he was the primary crew member, with no backup in place.[2] Akiyama began cosmonaut training in August 1989 in a deal between TBS and the Soviet Union.[4] The commercialization of space flight was evident by the Soyuz TM-11 covered with advertising of TBS and other Japanese companies.[10]

After successfully completing a Research Cosmonaut training course at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in present-day Russia, Akiyama launched aboard the Soyuz TM-11 mission to the Mir space station on 2 December 1990 along with mission commander Viktor Afanasyev and flight engineer Musa Manarov. During his time aboard Mir, Akiyama gave live reports each day documenting life aboard the station. He returned just over a week later aboard Soyuz TM-10 along with Gennadi Manakov and Gennadi Strekalov on 10 December. Akiyama's mission marked the first flight of a person of Japanese nationality in space as well as the first commercially sponsored and funded spaceflight of an individual in history.[4][5][11] Akiyama was also the first journalist to give live reports from space.[2]

Various reports have cited a flight cost paid by TBS as between US$12 million and US$37 million. The company reportedly lost US$7.4 million on the deal.[12][13][2]

TV reports

Akiyama broke stereotypes since he was not an athletic trained astronaut, scientist nor engineer. Thus Akiyama was called the first antihero in space for being just an ordinary civilian.[3] As a TV reporter, Akiyama made comments during his nightly live broadcasts in the Mir:[3]

The first words of Akiyama seconds after the Soyuz TM-11 reached orbit were:[10]

"I’m looking out the window now,"

— Toyohiro Akiyama[10]

Studying the frogs' behavior in the zero-g environment was an experiment for Japanese schoolchildren.[3]

"Fat Japanese frogs in space love the feeling of weightlessness. Thin Japanese frogs act as if they would rather be back in Yokohama."

— Toyohiro Akiyama[3]

During training he quit smoking four-pack-a-day cigarettes. Before liftoff when asked what he looked forward to most upon his return to Earth he said:[10]

“I can’t wait to have a smoke,”

— Toyohiro Akiyama[10]

Akiyama described his struggles such as space sickness, need for cigarettes, his brain was "floating around in my head" and "I wish I had brought along some natto,".[3] Meanwhile Akiyama worried that his 2 children spent too much time watching TV. During a radio broadcast he said "Please tell Ken-ken and Naoko to study,". His wife Kyoko answered "The children are doing fine," "Please try to relax." Initially the TBS TV viewership was high, but by midweek it declined to a bit above normal.[3]

Later career

Akiyama returned to TBS after completing his spaceflight and became deputy director of the TBS News Division. He retired from TBS in 1995, because he disagreed with the active commercialization of television.[4][5]

In April 1991, he shot a film, with a group of Japanese journalists, about the state of the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan.[14]

Since January 1996, he engaged in organic farming with rice and mushrooms in the Abukuma mountains in the town Takine, near Tamura, Fukushima, Fukushima Prefecture.[15][16] He also wrote books and give lectures focusing on environmental issues.[16] In March 2011, he was personally affected by the Fukushima disaster and was forced to abandon his farm.[17]

On November 1, 2011, he became a professor at the Faculty of Arts, Kyoto University of Art and Design.[16]

Personal life

Akiyama was married to Kyoko Akiyama, and the couple had a son and a daughter.[3] They divorced in 1995 due to his plans for organic farming in Fukushima Prefecture.[citation needed]

Awards and decorations

Akiyama received multiple awards and decorations, including:[16]


He made reports in Japanese, which were published later, dedicated to his space flight. He also co-authored articles on the development of space tourism and farming.[21]

  • The Pleasure of Spaceflight, Journal of Space Technology and Science - Vol.9 No.1'93.[21]
  • Journey around agriculture - Mar 1, 1998[21]
  • Japanese astronaut official photographic record collection (1991) ISBN 4096805912[21]
  • Farmer's Diary (1998) ISBN 4104248010[21]
  • Space, Aug 1, 1992[21]
  • Space (above) (Bungei Bunko) Aug 1, 1995[21]
  • Space (below) (Bungei Bunko) Aug 1, 1995[21]
  • To living with agriculture - earth and space (1999) ISBN 4000001809[21]
  • Space Specialist 9 Days-First Japanese Astronaut Experience All Records Feb 1, 1991[21]
  • This is a space correspondent! -I went to space! Feb 1, 1991[21]
  • Hoe and Spacecraft Nov 30, 2007[21]

See also


  1. ^ a b "日本人初の宇宙飛行士、秋山さんが語る! 「私が選ばれた」真相 (Mr. Akiyama, the first Japanese astronaut, talks! The truth that "I was chosen")". 2 December 2017. Archived from the original on 29 October 2020. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e Anatoly Zak (27 June 2015). "Soyuz TM-11: First journalist in space". Archived from the original on 7 June 2020.(subscription required)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i David E. Sanger (8 December 1990). "A Japanese Innovation: The Space Antihero". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 29 April 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Britannica Educational Publishing (2009). Manned Spaceflight. Rosen Publishing Group. pp. 156–157. ISBN 1-61530-039-2.
  5. ^ a b c d "Akiyama". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on 29 December 2008. Retrieved 29 November 2010.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  6. ^ Йоити Иноуэ, TBS. «Я никогда не считал Россию безопасной страной» — Новые Известия[dead link]
  7. ^ Если бы. Космический туризм — Михаил Попов
  8. ^ Ъ-Власть — Пять звезд на орбите
  9. ^ Газета.Ru — Интервью с экипажем МКС
  10. ^ a b c d e "Japanese Journalist Rockets Into Space". Los Angeles Times. 3 December 1990. Archived from the original on 30 October 2020.
  11. ^ "Mir Space Station". BBC News. Retrieved 29 November 2010.
  12. ^ Otake, Tomoko (3 August 2013). "Toyohiro Akiyama: Cautionary tales from one not afraid to risk all". Japan Times. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  13. ^ "World Aviation in 1990". Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  14. ^ Казахстанская правда[dead link]
  15. ^ Выступление на лекции общественной организации «Peace Boat» 1 октября 2008 года
  16. ^ a b c d e f g "秋山 豊寛 (Akiyama Toyohiro)". Koushihaken. Archived from the original on 21 September 2020. 1990年 ソ連人民友好章 (1990, Soviet - Order of Friendship of Peoples)、1991年 東京都民文化栄誉章 (1991, Tokyo Metropolitan Cultural Honor)、2000年 日本宇宙生物科学会功績賞 (2000, Japanese Society for Biological Sciences in Space Achievement Award)。
  17. ^ "First Japanese in space becomes Fukushima evacuee". The Asahi Shimbun. Archived from the original on 7 December 2011. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  18. ^ "Указ Президента СССР от 10.12.1990 N УП-1148". Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  19. ^ "これまでの学会各賞受賞者および名誉会員 (Award winners and honorary members of previous academic societies)" (PDF). Japanese Society for Biological Sciences in Space (JSBSS). 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 October 2020.
  20. ^ Указ Президента Российской Федерации от 12 апреля 2011 года № 437 «О награждении медалью „За заслуги в освоении космоса“ иностранных граждан»
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Books By Toyohiro Akiyama". Amazon. 29 October 2020. Archived from the original on 29 October 2020.

External links

  • Spacefacts biography of Toyohiro Akiyama