Gen Hirashima is a professional routesetter from Japan. He joined IFSC setting team in 2016. SKALOLAZ.PRO team made an exclusive interview with Gen about the Japanese way of climbing and routesetting and the spirit of SAMURAI!
Where do you live?
In Fukuoka, in Japan
Are your parents climbers?
No. They have never tried climbing.
Some words about your family. Are you married? You wife is a climber or not? Do you have kids? Do they climb?
Yes. She climbed a long time ago. I have 2 kids and they sometimes climb. In what climbing gym are you basically training and setting when you are not working on IFSC events or other competitions? Basically I have gone to the competitions and the climbing gyms for routesetting, not only Japan but also other countries. Please tell us about your way in climbing: when did you start climbing, what are your main achievements in sport climbing? I started to climb in 2003. My motto is to keep creativity and being strong. When and where did you start setting?
I started in the climbing gym in Niigata, Japan in 2006.
When did you join the IFSC routesetting team? The University championship in Shanghai in 2016.
How long was your way from local or national routesetter to IFSC team member?
6 years. I got the national license in 2010, the Continental license in 2014 and the International license in 2016.
Your favorite discipline as a climber? And your favorite discipline as a route setter? I love to climb outside. Bouldering is my favorite as a route setter. Do you set both bouldering and lead or just one of them? I set both, but mainly bouldering. The good route setter – who is he (or she)? What characteristics should he has? Toned Katiyo, Manuel Hassler and Hiroshi Okano are my mentors. It’s difficult to describe their character in short words…
Specially for SKALOLAZ.PRO Gen Hirashima wrote 'routesetter' in Japanese. Should route setter climb his own problem or route himself? Or he may compile the bloc move by move, but not the whole problem from start to top? The best is that the route setter can climb the problems they make. But this is ideal. It’s impossible in reality. I think it’s more important the power and organization as the team than the ability as an individual. Is routesetter a popular profession in Japan? The young climbers who are interested in the route setters have been increasing. Hope it will be more popular.
Are there any schools or institutes for routesetters in Japan? Nothing. I would like to have such a laboratory in the future. How many times a week do you climb? Around 3 days in the week Do you have a fingerboard, a campus board or a climbing wall at home? No Japanese climbing team is one of the strongest in the world. What’s the secret? Why do you think Japanese climbers are dominating now in sport climbing? The problems in the climbing gyms for Japan are of high quality and SAMURAI spirits. Whose climbing technique (style) do you like most of all? Nalle Hukkataival Do you like outdoor climbing? How often do you go climbing rocks? Lead or boulders?
Yes. I usually go to the outside climbing three times a month. Both Lead and Bouldering, but Multi-pitch is main lately. It’s the area I can drive for a few hours.
Maybe you have any experience of routesetting on rocks? Yes.
Do you practice any other sports? No Do you have any non-climbing hobbies? I like marine sports - Surfing and SUP etc… Have you been in Russia? What can you say about our country? Yes. I have been to WC Moscow last year. I want to go somewhere next time if I have the chance. Because I didn’t have any time to do, just routeseeting…