Kazuaki Hiratsuka was born in Teshikaga Town in 1959. A thirst for big city life led him to Tokyo as a young man, but while there, he encountered a travel piece about canoeing on the Kushiro River. Reading about his childhood home made Mr. Hiratsuka look at his hometown in a new light, and made him realize what a wonderful place he had grown up in. On returning home, Mr. Hiratsuka took the \250,000 he had saved in a cupboard and bought a canoe. He and some friends began voluntarily greeting tourists in the area, and after noticing tourists lugging heavy kayaks that they had brought with them, he started a company in 1991 to make it easier for visitors to enjoy canoeing in the area. He now has 31 years of experience in canoeing.