Japanese rocket scientist gives up lucrative career to join Cirque du Soleil


Born in Okayama, Yusuke Funaki became an engineer in the Research & Development department at Bridgestone, a world leader in tire technology, before he gave it all up to pursue his dream to join the circus.

As a 2-year research student for JAXA/Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (Japan’s NASA), Funaki researched the movements of the robotic arm used at the International Space Satellite. He received a Masters of Engineering after majoring in aerospace engineering.

After landing a lucrative job in research, Funaki saw Quidam, Cirque du Soleil’s ninth stage show. He was so impressed that he decided to start skipping rope, a task that may sound simple and child-like but not when it is featured in a Cirque du Soleil show. There is a prowess, energy and artistry of a Cirque’s skipping rope act that has many audience members wanting more.

Although skipping rope became his new passion, he still continued to make great achievements in engineering and even secured an international patent in tire engineering. But this accomplishment did not diminish his desire to join the circus. Funaki ultimately followed his heart and gave up his job to become a street performer. His pursuits took him around the world to perform in competitions which was his way to strengthen his craft and build his reputation. He found his way to Orlando after being hired by Cirque du Soleil and is now the second half of a duo that is part of the opening act for La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil, a show that has fascinated the imaginations of more than 8 million guests.

Behind the scenes of La Nouba, Funaki is referred to as NASA, a nickname given to him by his cast members after they learned about his past career in science. He performs in two shows per night on Tuesdays through Saturdays at the La Nouba Theater, located at the Walt Disney World Resort.

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Good for him for following his dreams! You only live once.

"It's better to regret something you have done than something you haven't."

9 ( +10 / -1 )

CduS is NOT a circus.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Follow your dream dude!

Not like the drones.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Well, we only live once...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Wow, I want to take a grad position that I have little passion in and deprive the opportunity for applicants who actually want to become engineers and quit after a few years for some unrelated job too! just for the lulz.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Great story. Sick of the science/engineer crowd coming to my school and endlessly harping on about the need for scientists and engineers... what the world needs is more artists.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Great story. Sick of the science/engineer crowd coming to my school and endlessly harping on about the need for scientists and engineers... what the world needs is more artists.

I don't agree with that. The world has enough artists.

This guy isn't an "artist", he's an "entertainer".

Best of luck to him though.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Hardly brain surgery, though, is it?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Good for him. I gave up art which drawing and painting was my life for a job that pays steady and alot that has nothing to do with art. I hate my job.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Clearly he wasn't a rocket scientist, but a tire scientist. Still, it's great to see 脱サラ (datsu-sara) stories like this once in a while.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Should be made into a movie. Must see for the young dreamers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

( ° ͜ʖ ͡°) I'm jealous of this guy. He can do whatever he wants. Me, I can only count days T-T . It's impossible for me to fullfil my dream as a POP signer.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

"Dreams are worth fighting for. Otherwise, you spend your life fighting for someone else's dream."

a line from the movie Ed Wood, that seems appropriate.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Titanium, did you mean pop SINGER?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A scientist and an artist, what an all rounder.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is what happens when you force your child to study something he does not like. Glad to see him give up his parents' dream to live his dream!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

CduS is NOT a circus.

Ahem.. "Cirque" is the French word for "Circus". Google translate is also your friend.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Great story!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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