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A Pitch For The Future

Trailblazer Toshiyuki Hayashi

Photo: Ken Yoshizawa In 1987, Toshiyuki Hayashi led Japan as captain in the first-ever Rugby World Cup. A stalwart for the Kobeco Steelers team in the Japan rugby union Top League, he has been one of the faces of Japanese rugby for over 40 years. While studying at Oxford in the U.K., he played in the Oxford-Cambridge Varsity Match in 1990 and was awarded Full Blue honors for the victory by the Oxford University Blues Committee. He was also chosen to play for the Barbarian Football Club (a British invitational rugby union club) in 1992, becoming the first Japanese player to be invited in the Babaas.

Hayashi—an enthusiastic mentor for youth rugby in Japan—is chairman and founder of the Heroes organization. For this NPO, he draws on his own experiences competing in top-level sports and those of other athletes (both men and women) to educate the Japanese public at large through seminars on “emotional learning.”

In 2021, Hayashi joined MK Taxi as a brand ambassador to inspire and educate new recruits in the company. He will be a regular contributor to the MK Escape magazine, interviewing Japanese sports people and business influencers on the valuable lessons they have learned on their road to success.

1. Why did you start Heroes?

I had wonderfully moving and emotional experiences through rugby. Rugby enriched my life. I started the Heroes organization as a way for me to “pay it forward” to my juniors, to give them the opportunity to experience that same enrichment.

When I was younger, I had a hero that I looked up to. They weren’t Kamen Rider or Ultraman, but a real-life person; someone I admired and imitated. Someone who made me realize that achieving my dreams was possible. These were things I had never thought of before. I pursued those dreams and grew pursuing them.

Anyone who pursues their dreams and is true to themselves is an admirable hero. The Heroes organization was named with the hope that many new heroes will be born from it.

2. What are the most valuable lessons the average person can learn from top athletes?

Besides disposition, I think there are various factors involved in becoming a top athlete. There are setbacks and barriers to overcome before earning that title. Through hardships, you learn how to live and produce results. There are no winners who haven’t lost and no success comes without failure. I believe there is a lot of learning to do on the way to results.

PULL QUOTE: “There are no winners who haven’t lost and no success comes without failure.

3. What can we look forward to in upcoming MK Escape articles?

It is trailblazers who will change the future of Japan. That’s our concept at MK Taxi. However, in order to achieve something ahead of its time, there are still many walls to overcome.

There should be a core in each individual that will have the ability to break this wall. I played rugby abroad and spent time learning about a new culture while still keeping my core identity and philosophy of being Japanese. I say it’s wakon yosai (Japanese spirit with Western learning) .

I look forward to sharing the spirit of other individual trailblazers. Not only do I hope to focus on the successes we can all see, but also on what lies deeper—the spirit and resolve at the core required to pursue your dreams, as I did.

For more information on Toshiyuki Hayashi and the Heroes organization, visit his official website at


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