Hideoki was born in Suwa City, in the mountains of Nagano, in 1942. His family moved to Tokyo shortly after that, just as World War II was approaching its climax. One of his first memories is of being three years old, escaping the firebombing of Tokyo with his mother clenching his and his sister’s hands with his brother strapped to her back. Tokyo was burning with such ferocity that Hideoki remembers seeing the embers of corrugated metal landing in the river and thinking, “why is the river on fire”?
He was sent to Chiba to live with his Aunt and Uncle because of a lack of food. One day the mountains would become his obsession, but at first, the sea was his playground. In middle school, he would swim across Tokyo Bay to Kanagawa and take buses back home. Hideoki was not accepted getting into his highschool of choice despite studying extremely hard. He failed the entrance exam by just one point.
Unable to reconcile the unfairness of the system, he decided that he and Japan didn’t match. He still ended up going to the well-regarded Waseda High School, but couldn’t be bothered with school and spent all of his time in the mountains, climbing. He would sneak off to climb mountains, peak after peak, even in winter, sometimes leading teams of climbers many years his senior. He was a dedicated climber that one day he came home to find a note taped to the door: “We moved, here’s the new address.”