New Kyurizukai
Brought up as the first son of an electrical shop owner in town, Dr. Aoki spent his childhood familiarizing himself with all kinds of electrical appliances and PCs. In his high school and college days, he was extremely active in extracurricular activities such as judo, rugby, band and so on. Indeed, throughout his life he has tackled study, sports and hobbies with all his might and produced a number of achievements in research as well. He is one of the teachers who enjoy an overwhelming popularity among Keio students. How did Dr. Aoki become a researcher? We asked him about his personal background and his career as a researcher.

We heard that you were born in a family running an electrical shop in Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture. Is that right?
      Right. My parents were running an electrical appliance shop. As an elementary school boy, it was almost my daily routine to drop in at the shop after school. So as far as I can remember, I spent most of my childhood surrounded by all kinds of electrical appliances. A so-called “electrical appliance freak,” whenever my father opened his mouth, he talked only about electrical appliances – even at home! It was only natural that I became interested in electrical appliances. What’s more, my father liked novelties. Back in those days, for example, plasma TVs were recently launched products costing millions of yen, but money was no object; he bought one and proudly displayed it at the front of the shop. An electrical shop is a community-oriented business by nature, but my father’s shop seems to have been a trendsetting one.
      Another example typifying my father’s shop was that it was quick to handle PCs and opened the whole of its second floor as a PC-dedicated space, where PCs from various makers were made available and visitors were welcome to freely try a variety of software packages. On my way from elementary school, I often visited the PC floor together with my friends in the neighborhood, enjoying time programming games while referring to the “Basic Magazine.” It was in those days that I vaguely felt that I would choose the scientific course in the future.
      In the meantime, I loved sports of various kinds. As an elementary school boy, I took up soccer and swimming; when I entered junior high school, I was cheated by a “tricky” senior (Laughter) to join the volleyball club eventually to become the captain. Having joined the club, I was really shocked to find that almost all of its members were bad boys. The only good thing about being the club member was that I learned how to deal with bad boys, I should say (Laughter).

You then advanced to a high school attached to Waseda University, didn’t you?
      To tell the truth, I was at a loss which school to choose, Honjo High School of Waseda University or Shiki High School of Keio University. Given my personal character, I finally chose Waseda’s Honjo High School because of its “unrefined” school color. Years later, I’m now teaching at Keio University – back in those days I didn’t even dream of becoming a Keio teacher.
      Being a high school attached to Waseda University meant that there would be no university entrance exam, so I was able to adsorb myself in extracurricular club activities. In fact, my school life was extremely busy – setting up a cheering party together with my seniors; playing active roles as a judo club member; beating a drum at a light music club; at the school cultural festival, I held positions in three different bands, and then appeared on cheering party’s stage during the night festival. What is deeply impressed on my mind is that we staged a music performance as a copy band of the then popular “Seikima-II” in a demon-like imitation of that band.
      That said, I also studied as hard as other students. Incidentally, the theme of my high school graduation thesis was: “Energy toward the 21st century – The necessity of solar energy as an alternative energy in place of fossil fuels.” In those days, I was convinced that petroleum would be completely depleted by the dawn of the 21st century.