Work: adidas Japan

Hometown: Haarlem, The Netherlands

Arrived: 2017

Meet adidas Japan’s key city-activation director, a Dutch transplant who has built a brand new life in Tokyo – but still rides her bike everywhere, in true Amsterdam style.

Leonie Van den Haak’s decision to move with her husband to Tokyo was an easy one to make. She had been drawn to the Japanese capital ever since she visited in 2012. “The energy of Tokyo and the beauty of Japanese culture instantly attracted me,” says Van den Haak.
In her role overseeing adidas Japan’s marketing and events in Tokyo, Van den Haak often travels to other countries. But being away from Tokyo reminds her of how good her life in the Japanese capital is. “Japan is one of the most convenient, friendly and safe places in the world,” she says. “People go above and beyond to help each other out.”

For Van den Haak, the typical weekday starts before sunrise, at 04.30. “I go for a run along Nakameguro River, where I live,” says Van den Haak. “I usually run between 15 and 30km.” To get to work from her neighbourhood in western Tokyo, she hops on her bicycle – as she did in the Netherlands – “in rain or shine”.

As Tokyo prepares to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020, Japan is rushing to build new stadiums and arenas. While adidas is not an official sponsor, Van den Haak has big plans over the next year and a half. “I have witnessed a definite sense of pride and excitement among the Japanese for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020, which is great energy for my team to build on,” she says.