Book review: 『岩田さん』ed. by Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shinbun

岩田さん (いわたさん)
Title: 岩田さん (いわたさん)
First published: 2019
Published: 2019
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 219
Translation: Ask Iwata, by Sam Bett

This book is a collection of interviews and talks between Shigesato Itoi and Satoru Iwata. There are also extracts from the series 「社長が訊く」 from the Nintendo website.


I bought this book partly because I was curious to learn more about Satoru Iwata, partly because I admire Shigesato Itoi very much, and partly because of the unanimous praise this book has received since its publication in 2019.

Most chapters are interviews with Satoru Iwata, and they read very easily. There are parts on Iwata’s experience at HAL Laboratory, first as a developer and then as president, when the company was in financial chaos. I found these parts most fascinating.

Also inspiring is Satoru Iwata’s vision of management and leadership, the importance he gives to communication with employees, and how he sees talent and value in others and is always willing to learn from them.


Other parts are of course more focused on Iwata’s contribution and role at Nintendo. His vision and hopes for the game industry were enlightening too. Things that seem obvious today were not some years ago, and introducing gaming consoles in everyone’s house actually required work and creativity. While it seemed natural for me to reach for the Switch controller when I want to relax, television has been the default choice for years. It was funny to learn that Iwata wanted to call controllers リモコン, to encourage people to reach for them as easily as they would reach for the TV remote control.


The book also contains chapters at the end where Shigeru Miyamoto and Shigesato Itoi talk about Satoru Iwata, how they met, how they worked together…

Even if you are not particularly interested in the game industry in general or Nintendo in particular, this book is still a great read. It is not only about leadership and gaming, it is about creativity and pursuing one’s vision, team work and communication. Even I who never reads books by or about CEOs found this one engrossing.

I will end this review on an inspiring quote:

「人が嫌がるかもしれないことや、人が疲れて続けられないようなことを、延々と続けられる人」、それが「天才」だとわたしは思うんです。考えるのをやめないこととか、とにかく延々と突き詰めていくこと。(…) 自分が苦労だと思わずに続けられることで、価値があることを見つけることができた人は、それだけでとてもしあわせだと思います。(p.136)

(These words by Satoru Iwata echo a quote by Shigesato Itoi that I have on my blog’s homepage almost since its creation and that have been my motto for my Japanese learning journey: “The more effort you put into something, the happier it will make you”.)