[ENG TRANSLATION] Waseda e-Style Book Interview – 2108

Original article published August 2021.

Translation + Japanese transcript: @shinjistarxx 
Proofreading: @axelsandwich

学びのキーワード「集中力」(人間科学情報科学科) 羽生結弦さん

Learning Keyword: “Concentration” (Department of Human Informatics Science), Yuzuru Hanyu

Interview with Professor Nishimura Shoji 西村昭治教授 


On learning more than his expectations in the interdisciplinary major, Human Informatics Science

西村 最初に、早稲田大学eスクール、特に人間科学情報科学科を志望した理由を聞かせてください。

Nishimura: Firstly, could you please tell us why you chose Waseda University’s e-school, specifically the Human Informatics Science Department?

羽生 情報社会の中でいま、情報分野が目まぐるしく進化し発展していることと、自分の中で情報分野から何かを学びたいという気持ちがとても強くありました。加えてフィギュアスケートだけではなく、人間という存在をもっと深く知り、科学科を選びました。スケートのことを専門的に学びたいのであれば、スポーツ系の学科の方がより科学的に学べるのかもしれませんが、何よりも人間として成長しなくてはいけないと思っていたので、この選択肢しか考えられなかったのです。

Hanyu: In our current information-based society, the field of information science is rapidly evolving and developing, and personally I very strongly felt that I wanted to learn something from the field of informatics. Additionally, I wanted to learn more deeply about human beings beyond just figure skating, so I chose a science department. If I had wanted to learn more about figure skating as a major, I perhaps could have learned more about it from a scientific perspective in a more sports-related major, but, more than anything, I thought that I have to grow more as a person, so that’s why I could only think of this option [human informatics science].

西村 入学前の期待に対して、入学してから何かギャップはありましたか?

N: Was there any sort of gap between your expectations before you started school and afterwards?

羽生 ここまで学際的な場とは想像していなかったです。学科の垣根がほとんどないというのがとても不思議でした。他大学の学生の方の話を聞くと、学科の専門性を強調するところが多いのですが、早稲田大学人間科学部の場合、専門性を備えながらも、どの学科の科目も履修できるという点はものすごく大きな特色だと思いました。事実、僕の印象に残っている科目には健康福祉科学科の科目も多いのです。ここまで広くいろんなことを学べる機会があるんだ、というのがいい意味で一番大きく期待を裏切られた点です。

H: I hadn’t imagined it to be such an interdisciplinary setting. It was very unusual that there were basically no hard boundaries between the departments. If you ask students of other universities, the specialization of each department is often emphasized, but in the case of Waseda University’s Human Informatics Science department, I thought that being able to have that specialization in a major while still being able to take classes from any other department was a very big distinguishing point. In fact, many of the classes that left an impression on me were from the Health & Welfare Sciences department. I mean this in a good way, but the biggest surprise contrary to my expectations was that I had the opportunity to learn about such a vast breadth of things. 

西村 他学科の学生が私のゼミで卒業研究をすることも、その逆もありますからね。アスリートの中には、eスクールで学ぶ方が多いのですが、羽生さんはどんな魅力を感じて本学で学んでいましたか?

N: Yes, many students of other departments do their graduation research with me, and vice versa as well. Among athletes, there are many who learn through e-schooling but for Hanyu-san, what did you feel was attractive about studying at this university?

羽生 eスクールには、競技をしている方もしていない方も、専業主婦の方もセカンドキャリアを目指す方もいて多種多様です。僕も含めみなさん同じだと思いますが、それぞれの生活と新たな学びの両方をちゃんと存在させることができるのは、eスクールならではの特長だと感じます。それはよく言う両立という言葉以上の感覚です。課題やレポート(論文)の締め切りには追われますが、それでも自分のペースでしたいことがきっちりできるのは本当によかったです。

H: In e-school, there are students who are competing (as athletes), those who are not; there are those who are full-time housewives, as well as others who are aiming for a second career, so there is much diversity. I think everyone, including me, feels the same in that being able to properly support both the individual lifestyles (of the students) and new learning is a unique merit of e-schooling. It’s something more than just the word “coexistence*,” which is often used [to describe this]. Although I had to keep up with deadlines for assignments and reports (papers), despite that, being able to do exactly what I wanted and at my own pace was really great.

*T/N: the word he uses here 両立 literally means “compatibility” or “coexistence” but is often used to describe situations in which you are trying to maintain 2+ things (i.e. supporting both work/school/personal life obligations in this case)

西村 卒業研究まで、よく頑張ったと思います。大変だったと感じたのは、どんなことですか?

N: And to do graduation research [thesis] on top of that, I think you did a great job. What kind of things did you find difficult?

羽生 決まった時間に出席すればいいというものではないので、自分で時間のやりくり、やる気のやりくりをしなくてはいけないのが大変でした。最初は、自分で時間割を決めて早めに課題を終わらせればいいと簡単に思っていたのですが、自由度が高過ぎるために自分を追い込んでしまうことがありました。でも、それが自分の生活リズムの調整や時間の配分を学ぶ機会にもなっていたんですね。義務教育や高校までの教育のように「この時間にこれをやりなさい」と言う決まりがあるわけではないので、レポートの締め切りも含めて自分できちんと計画を立てる、やる気のスイッチを入れることを学ぶことができました。

H: It wasn’t something where I just had to attend [class] at designated times, so having to create time by myself and manage my motivation was difficult. At first, I simply thought I could just plan my schedule and finish my assignments early but because I had too much freedom with it, there were times I ended up cramming. But, that itself became an opportunity to learn about how to adjust my lifestyle and allocate time. It wasn’t like compulsory education or up through high school where you would be told to “do this in this amount of time,” so I learned how to switch on my motivation so I could properly set up a plan for myself while taking into consideration deadlines for reports.

西村 それはまさにeスクールによる学び方のお手本と言えますね。その時間コントロールの中で、勉強時間はどのように捻出していたんですか?

N: It seems that can be said to be a model of how to learn in e-schooling. While managing your time, how did you work out time to study?

羽生 多くの科目を一度に履修することはできませんでした。科目によってはすごく時間がかかるので「この日だけは、できるところまでやる」と決めて集中してやっていました。



H: I couldn’t take too many classes at once. Depending on the class it could take a lot of time, so I would decide “On this day, I’ll do as much as I can” and I concentrated on that. I’m the type that can’t think about two things simultaneously, so when I’m using my brain, I’ll use it as much as I can, and when I’m skating, I’ll focus solely on skating, and I think I became very aware of this as I went on. For example, it would be like “This day is just for studying,” and “This day is only for skating.” I have a high ability to focus on something, but I am not the type to be able to do it for a long time, so I had to figure out how to put my ability to focus to use in studying, and how I could use other time more effectively to increase my concentration. I think studying is something that uses a lot of effort. And it’s important to determine whether going through that effort is beneficial to you. I regularly had the fear within me that if I spent my time doing nothing, it would be meaningless in the span of my life. So, if I am going to learn, I felt that I would focus on that and make it of use to me, put my blood, sweat, and tears into it. There were times my competitions and deadlines for reports overlapped and I had to cram them in, but I think it can be said I was able to focus on it precisely because of that. I think humans are creatures who intuitively think about running away from things but, in contrast, in situations where it becomes impossible to escape, I think we can instinctively enter a deep state of concentration.


On learning programming skills that can carry over and be used into the future

西村 世界を転戦する羽生さんですが、海外での勉強の仕方や移動時間の使い方は私も知り得ませんでした。どんな工夫をされていたのでしょうか?

N: Hanyu-san competes all over the world, but even I had no idea how you did your studying while overseas or during travel time. What kind of planning did you have to do?

羽生 レポートは、海外遠征の際の移動時間などを有効に使って作成していました。ほとんどの試合は金・土・日曜日なので、だいたい月曜日か火曜日が出発日です。そこで、日曜日になった瞬間に受講して、およそ10時間以上になる移動の間に頑張ってレポートを書ききって、着いたすぐに提出するみたいなことをしていました。海外ではスケートか勉強しかやることがないので、日本にいるときよりも、集中して勉強できました。英語が苦手なので、英語で伝えられる情報は聞いても頭に入ってこないため集中力がより高まるのです。逆に日本語だとちょっと耳にしただけで情報として入ってくるので、集中できなくなってしまうんですよね。

H: For reports, I made good use of my travel time going overseas and so on to compose them. Most of my competitions fall on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, so usually I depart on Mondays or Tuesdays. So, from the moment it became Sunday, I would sit through lectures, then during the approximately 10 plus hour travel time, I would do my best to write and finish the report, and I would submit it as soon as I landed. When I’m overseas, I don’t do anything except skating or studying, so I was able to focus more on my studies than when I’m in Japan. My English is poor, so when there is information being conveyed in English (around me), even if I hear it, it doesn’t register in my mind, so my ability to focus on things goes up. On the contrary, if it’s in Japanese, even if just a little bit reaches my ears, the information registers in my mind, so I become unable to focus.

西村 海外においても、いかに集中するかが大切ということですね。次に具体的な学びについてお聞きしたいのですが、特に印象に残っている科目は何でしょうか。

N: So even when overseas, it’s a matter of focusing that is important. Next, I’d like to ask about the specifics of your learning, so what were some classes that specifically made an impression on you?

羽生 「プログラミング1」という科目が本当に楽しくて、完全に息抜きになっていました。もともとプログラムを触るのが好きで、プログラム計算も得意にしていました。自分で組んだ経験はなかったのですが、最終的に自分や他の選手の演技の要素を入力すると、最高点数がどこまで出るかを自動計算するプログラムにチャレンジ。点数と要素名をリンクさせるので、かなり長いプログラムになってしまったのですが、無事に完成させることができました。自分の競技のためにもなるので楽しかったですね。

H: The class “Programming I” was really fun and became a total breather for me. I have always liked working with computer programs, and so I was good at programming calculations as well. I didn’t have relevant experience, but ultimately I took on the challenge of making a program that would automatically calculate the highest possible score based on inputting my own and other skaters’ performance components. Since the point values and component names are linked to one another, it became quite a long program, but I was able to complete it without problems. It was also fun since it can be of use for my competitions.

西村 それは、羽生さんにとってすごい秘密兵器になるんじゃないですか。

N: That seems like it may become an amazing secret weapon for you, no?

羽生 そうですね、自分でプログラムを更新できるようになっているので、ルールが変わっても要素と点数のリンクする箇所や評価点を変えれば同じくように使えます。その点では今後も楽しみが広がります。「バイオエシックス」も楽しみでした。生命倫理について根本的に考えることが求められる科目ですが、そうしたテーマにも真摯に向き合うべきだとずっと思っていたんです。この科目を通して演技はもちろん、人間って何だろうという根源的な命題についても非常に深く考えることができました。だから、自分の考えをまとめるのに苦心したんですけれども、また受けたいというまでも思う科目の一つです。

H: Yes, I can modify the program myself, so even if the rules change, as long as I change the part that links the scores to the program components and the points associated with it, I can continue to use it in the same way. In that aspect, I look forward to the future of it. I also enjoyed “Bioethics”. It’s a class that requires you to think about the fundamentals of bioethics, and I had always thought that those kinds of themes are something we need to take seriously. Through this class, I was able to think extremely deeply about my performances of course, but also about the very basic question of what humans are. So, although I struggled in putting together my thoughts, it’s one of those classes I can say I would like to take again.


On his graduation research about the automation of scoring in figure skating

西村 担当教授の前に言いにくいかもしれませんが、卒業研究についても聞かせてください。テーマ(「フィギュアスケートにおけるモーションキャプチャー技術の活用と採点展望」)を決めた動機と成果についてお願いします。

N: It might be difficult to speak about it in front of your supervising instructor, but please tell us about your graduation research. Please speak about what motivated you to decide on this theme (Motion Capture Technology Applied to Figure Skating and its Prospects on Scoring) and about the results.

羽生 ずっとフィギュアスケートという競技に携わってきましたが、自分という存在を数値化あるいはデータ化して客観的に検証してみたいと常に思っていました。僕自身は、データは感覚の裏づけのようなものだと思っています。だから、今僕たちが競技で行っている感覚的な部分を(現実の人物や物体の動きをデジタルで記録する)モーションキャプチャでデータ化して蓄積し、分析できれば、より技術を向上させていけるのではないか、と考えたのです。


H: I have always been involved in competitive figure skating, but I also have often thought about wanting to quantify what I do, or in other words to convert into data, and then try objectively examining it. Personally, I think that data is something that backs up your physical senses. So, I thought that if you converted the sensory parts of what we are doing in competitions into collected data through motion capture [technology that digitally records the movements of humans and other objects in real life], if you could analyze that, it would perhaps (help in) improving the technical [aspects of skating]. 

Since the physical senses differ from person to person, it’s difficult to say whether such is optimal for all skaters, but this will allow jumps to be evaluated based on data-backed analysis, and not on just sensory feedback as has been done up to now. I wanted to produce results using a method of analysis that only I could carry out to show that this type of research is possible. Also, as an actual currently competing skater, in addition to staying at the top of my game, I [also] wanted to properly show what I am thinking about.

西村 羽生さんが行った研究が進めば、技術点については自動採点ができそうですね。

N: If the research that you did moves forward, it seems that with regards to technical scores, it might be able to be scored through automation.

羽生 実際にその分野にも携わっていけたらと思います。もちろん知識不足な分野はまだまだたくさんあって、そこは多少の勉強ではどうにもならないと思うので、また西村先生のお力を借りたいと思っています。それでも、この卒業研究を通して、より自分に合ったジャンプを目指していけるようになったと感じています。

H: I hope I can actually get involved in that field of research. Of course, there are still many fields in which I lack knowledge, and I think it won’t do if I only scratch the surface [with studying], so I would like to ask for Nishimura-sensei’s help once more [when that time comes]. Nevertheless, through my graduation research, I feel that I have become able to aim for jumps that are more suitable for me.

西村 技術点に関して人工知能(AI)でも計算できるとすれば、人間のジャッジはいらなくなる日がくるのではないか、と思いっていますか。

N: If technical scores are able to be calculated through artificial intelligence (AI), do you think there will perhaps be a day that human judges are no longer needed?

羽生 フィギュアスケートはスポーツなのに芸術点という採点基準があります。 ただ、芸術と言っても、ある程度正しい形が存在している。例えば、ジャンプのプラス項目とマイナス項目は、音楽との調和や、空中姿勢の美しさ、曲がりや歪みの程度を基準に決められます。この基準に従うと真っ直ぐですごくきれいなジャンプなら芸術的と言えるのではないかと考えられます。現在は、その基準が少し曖昧なところがあるのですが、AIなどの技術で何もバイアスが掛かってない状態で採点できれば、目指すべき方向がしっかり見えてくるんじゃないかと思うんです。そうすればスポーツでありながら芸術面も客観的評価できる世界になり得るのではないかと考えます。同じオリンピック競技の体操も積極的にレーザーを使用した自動採点に取り組んでいますが、体操と比べてフィギュアスケートは、リンクが大き過ぎてレーザーが使えないので、それ以外のアプローチが必要になります。今回の卒業研究である程度まで方向性を見いだすことができ、それを提唱できていると思うので、自分自身の今後の研究に期待したい思いはあります。

H: Figure skating is a sport, yet there are standards of scoring referred to as an artistry score*. However, even though it’s called artistic, there exists to some extent a “correct” form. For example, the positive and negative grades of execution for jumps are decided by standards such as harmony with the music, the beauty of the mid-air posture, and the degree of bending and distortion. It is thought that following these standards allows us to deem a jump, if clean and upright, as “artistic.” At the present, there are some ambiguities in those standards, but, I think if a technology such as AI could be used for scoring in a way without any biases, I think the direction we need to be heading towards would become more clear. By doing so, I think it may be possible to create a world where we could evaluate the artistic aspect in an objective way, even while still being a sport.

Gymnastics, which is also an Olympic sport, is also actively trying to implement automated scoring using lasers, but in contrast to gymnastics, in figure skating we cannot use lasers as the rink is too big, so a different approach is necessary. With my research this time, I think I have been able to discover the direction to some extent and advocate for it, so I have high hopes for my own research from here on out.

*T/N: referring to PCS/program components score


A learning environment where those who truly want to learn should come

西村 ゼミの研究で印象に残っていることは何ですか?

N: What was something that made an impression on you from your research for our seminar?

羽生 毎日、何か新しい発見があったなと思っています。そもそもの研究対象が、自分にとって毎日関わりをもっているものだったので、それを新しい視点からみられたのは大きかったです。学ぶ時には、いろんな視点からみなくてはいけませんが、多くの知識があると違う角度から見ることができますよね。


H: I think that each day I would make some sort of new discovery. To start with, the subject of my research was something I deal with everyday, so it was great to be looking at it from a new point of view. When learning, you must look at things from various perspectives, and if you have a lot of knowledge, you are able to view things from a different angle. It was a setting wherein I could directly pursue what I was aiming for and at the same time, it guided me to find a solution in times when I knew what kind of results I wanted to obtain, but didn’t know how to go about researching it.

西村 少しでも力になれてよかったです。それでは最後に、eスクールへの入学を考えている方々にメッセージをお願いします。

N: I’m glad I was able to be of some help. And now finally, if you could please give a message to those who are considering enrolling in e-schooling.

羽生 eスクールは本気で学ぼうとすればするほど大変です。僕自身は、かなりの時間をかけてゆっくりと学びました。もちろん競技生活が忙しいという事情もありましたが、適当に単位を取りたくないし、適当に済ませるなら、それは学修とは言えないと思っていました。自分で学びきる気持ちがあれば、現在進行形で自分の中に息づいている価値観や知識にものすごく大きな、良い影響を与えてくれるはずです。ただ、適当にやれば本当に意味のない生活で終わってしまうので、本気で学びたい人に来てください、とお伝えしたいです。簡単に受講を済ませてレポートを終わらせて、ということも科目によっては可能です。しかし、それをやってしまうと、真の学びの面白さを知ることはできません。eスクールのレベルに応えるには、むしろ通学生より強い意志と努力が求められるというわけです。また、それだけ学びの機会が充実知っているからこそ自分のペースで学修を進められるし、本気で勉強しようと思えば短期間でものすごくいろんな知識、経験が得られる場だと思います。やはり自分次第ですね。僕自身も本当に多くのことを学べました。


H: The more seriously you take your learning in e-schooling, the more difficult it is. Personally, I took quite a long time and did my learning slowly. Of course, there were extenuating circumstances in that I was busy with my competition schedule, but, I didn’t want to randomly take credits either, as I thought that if I were to go that route, I wouldn’t really be able to call it a program of study. If you are willing to do the learning on your own, it will have an enormous positive impact on the in-progress knowledge and values that are currently taking shape within you. However, if you do it at random, it will end up being meaningless, so I want to convey that those who truly want to learn should come [to e-school]. It is possible to simply go through lectures and turn in assignments, depending on the course. However, if you end up doing that, you cannot come to know the joy of true learning. This means that keeping up with the demands of e-schooling requires a stronger will and greater effort than that of in-person commuting students. Also, precisely because it is abundant with so many opportunities for learning, you can advance your studies at your own pace, and I think if you earnestly try to study, it is a setting where you can gain a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience even in a short amount of time. Ultimately, it is up to you. I personally was really able to learn a lot of things.

Of course, I had the feeling that I wanted to learn for the sake of my skating, but, through e-school, I was able to acquire various information technology skills and know-how, as well as research and analysis methods. I think that this will be connected to having awareness to view various things in a multifaceted way, not just in my skating, but in my life and my everyday lifestyle as well. Of course, if thinking about when I become a leader* (in the future), these skills will be extremely useful. I hope that through learning in e-school, each person will be able to achieve results that are meaningful for themselves.

*T/N: this part is a little ambiguous, not sure if he is referring to going into coaching/instruction [more literal interpretation] or just generally in the context of being a leader in his field/sport

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We are the Axel with Wings translation team, made up of fans of Yuzuru Hanyu. We hope to share videos of him and Japanese figure skating content with more people around the world. We aim to do our best to accurately capture the spirit of what's said. Hope you enjoy our videos and other contents.

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