A new book titled Iwata-San has been released in Japan by Hobonichi. The book is full of wonderful tales of the late Satoru Iwata, told by various Nintendo employees like Shigeru Miyamoto and Shigesato Itoi.
In the book, Itoi reflects on his relationship with Iwata, as both an incredible business partner and a wonderful friend.
Iwata and Itoi: Great business partners
Itoi had nothing but kind words to say about Iwata. When he recalled their first meeting in 1990 regarding EarthBound, Itoi said Iwata was somebody you could immediately trust:
It’s hard to describe how I felt when first meeting him. There was something very pleasant about him. Without even really knowing him, you could immediately feel that he was someone you could trust.
Itoi also recalls that Iwata was focused on creating a positive environment for everybody. When Iwata first met with Itoi to recruit him to HAL Lab, he expressed how he wanted to make everybody happy.
Iwata said that the vision behind his business was to make everyone happy: himself, his friends at work, and his customers. He used the English word for ‘happy’ instead of the Japanese word, which charmed me. It’s funny how you remember the most insignificant things, but whenever Iwata used the word ‘happy,’ he would show you the palms of both of his hands. That’s something I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
From professional work to personal friendship
In addition to being great business partners, Iwata and Itoi were close personally as well. They often spent many hours just chatting with each other, even after Iwata took his incredibly busy role of president at Nintendo. Itoi was drawn to Iwata’s personality, and their friendship was unbreakable.
What I really appreciated about Iwata is that he was never insecure, and he would never show off or get mad just to show his authority or anything like that. That’s why you could have long conversations with him without things ever becoming awkward in the slightest.
All we would do is talk, to the extent that my wife once said something like, ‘All men ever do is chat!’ In Kyoto, I would come up with an excuse to meet him somewhere in town and have a chat, and then we would continue our conversation over lunch, and we would still be talking after coming back home. I remember how Iwata would throw a ball for my dog while talking, then my wife would take the dog for a stroll and when she came back we were still talking. Sometimes a conversation that started in the afternoon could last until after 9pm.
Itoi and Iwata seemed inseparable. Losing a friend is an incredibly difficult thing to endure. At least it’s good to know that so many people have fond memories of Satoru Iwata.
If you would like to read Iwata-San and happen to know Japanese, it is available now.