It is not uncommon to hear stories of people who give up promising careers to follow their passions. Such is also the story of Yusuke Funaki who left behind his lucrative job to become part of the world-famous Cirque du Soleil.
The Okayama-born engineer started his career as a research student at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) researching the movements of a robotic arm on the International Space Station. He received his Masters of Engineering, majoring in aerospace engineering, and moved on to a lucrative job at the Research and Development department of tire maker Bridgestone. It was around this time that he saw Cirque du Soleil‘s ninth stage show, Quidam, and immediately fell in love with their skipping rope act and started learning and practicing on his own. But even with this new-found passion, he stayed with his job for a while, earning achievements in tire engineering and was even granted an international patent.
But he eventually followed his heart and left his job to become a street performer, joining competitions around the world to gain experience and reputation until he finally made his dream come true. Nicknamed by other cast members as “NASA” because of his professional background, Funaki is now the second half of a duo that performs the opening act for Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba, enchanting more than 8 million viewers, and possibly even inspiring another person to follow his dreams.
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