As well as being part of the gaming industry Yoot Saito is an author, philosopher, photographer and self professed Apple enthusiast. He was educated at the prestigious Tokyo's Waseda University where he studied science, engineering and architecture and at that point was not at all interested in producing games, thinking them to be nothing more than mindless entertainment.
This all changed when he experienced the Mac version of SimCity and was strongly influenced by the simulation aspect of Will Wright's classic. Once he had graduated Saito immediately joined a large publishing house where he got his start, working on several smaller titles. In the end he left to become independant in order to have greater creative freedom and to design his own projects. He then founded the company OPeNBooK as his development studio.
His first independant game was called The Tower and was produced at his own expense. This game was a big hit in Japan, winning several awards, and eventually became an international bestseller when Will Wright recommended the game to then Maxis president Jeff Braun. They decided to publish the game as SimTower and it became a big hit in Europe and the U.S.
Problems arose for Saito when Maxis was absolved into EA and OPeNBooK where forced to merge with another company in order to stay alive. He eventually left the company and moved from Tokyo to California where he started to work on Seaman, a game produced with the American market in mind. He met with Sega president Shoichiro Irmajiri at a sushi bar and he famously declared the game to be "Horrible" but later asked if the game could be developed for the upcoming Sega Dreamcast. Saito agreed and returned to Japan, where he set up Vivarium studio to complete the project.
The game became a cultural phenomenon in Japan, due in no small part to Saito convincing the Japanese media that Seaman, a fish with a man's face, actually once existed. The game's success merited a Japan-only sequel, Seaman 2 for the PS2 and later Odama for the Gamecube.