Japan (Kyoto University) University’s 125th anniversary celebrated with public events

On 18 and 19 June, Kyoto University held a series of events at ROHM Theatre Kyoto marking the 125th anniversary of its founding.

The 18th of June, the institution’s foundation day, featured a commemorative ceremony emceed by Masaiku Nomura, a KyotoU alumnus and announcer with NHK Communications Training Institute. The event began with President Nagahiro Minato thanking the attendees and all the other supporters, followed by congratulatory remarks from three guests: Hideyuki Tanaka, senior vice minister of education and science; Jun Sawada, chairman of the KyotoU Kanae-kai, an association of alumni business leaders, and chief executive officer of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT); and Dr Hiroo Imura, Kyoto University’s 22nd president, in office from 1991 to 1997.

Afterwards, a commemorative forum took place with Haruko Nozaki, executive vice-president for public relations, transparency, and regional contribution, as the emcee. The program was centered on six KyotoU-affiliated Nobel laureates speaking on the theme of “Pursuing the Truth and Tackling Global Challenges”: Dr Ryōji Noyori, director-general of the Center for Research and Development Strategy (CRDS), Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST); Dr Makoto Kobayashi, special honorary professor at the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK); Dr Shinya Yamanaka, honorary director of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) and representative director of the CiRA Foundation; Dr Tasuku Honjo, director of the Center for Cancer Immunotherapy and Immunobiology (CCII), Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, and deputy director-general of the Kyoto University Institute for Advanced Study (KUIAS); Dr Akira Yoshino, honorary fellow of Asahi Kasei Corporation; and Dr Susumu Tonegawa, Riken Fellow, Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (Riken). Dr Tonegawa shared a video message while the other five delivered lectures and, with the exception of Dr Yamanaka, who was not present on-site, took part in a panel discussion moderated by President Minato. The event drew about 730 in-person attendees, including invited guests and KyotoU and high school students, and about 500 online viewers.

The day also included an alumni lecture event, held before the ceremony with the participation of five former members of the student clubs belonging to the Kyoto University Sports Union. Two of the graduates acted as emcees while the other three delivered lectures under the title of “Athlete Spirit: Academics and Athletics, and Beyond”, following remarks from Dr Kyoko Inagaki, executive vice-president for gender equality, international affairs, and external affairs. The emcees were Keisuke Iwamoto, an announcer with Asahi Television Broadcasting Corporation, and Shohei Niimi, a newscaster with Kansai Television Co Ltd. The speakers were Aya Nakajima, a former women’s rugby national team member, Eisuke Tanaka, a former professional baseball player, and Toshikazu Yamanishi, a racewalker who last year won the bronze medal in the men’s 20-kilometer race at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The audience numbered around 180 and consisted of high school students and other members of the general public.

Concurrently with these events, an Academic Marché held in the theater’s outdoor space attracted a large crowd of event attendees and others with booths from the University’s academic departments and from companies led or advised by KyotoU alumni. The University departments showcased cutting-edge research, through hands-on demonstrations and other means, while the companies sold anniversary merchandise, some of which was produced exclusively for the occasion.

The following day featured Kyoto University Academic Day 2022, the latest edition of the popular annual event, where more than 30 groups of researchers from across the institution shared their work with the public in a wide variety of interactive sessions, including conversations around Japanese-style tea tables and on-stage discussions with colleagues from other disciplines. Visitors were seen actively interacting with the researchers in these and other unique settings offered as part of the six-hour program.

In the afternoon of the same day, a student-organized event took place spotlighting the Kyoto University Sports Union. It began with a presentation of 55 videos introducing all of the 55 union member clubs, followed by a roundtable discussion by two current and two former union club athletes, the latter of whom were Teppei Morita, president of Sports Communication KYOTO Co Ltd, which runs the Kyoto Hannaryz basketball club, and Mr Niimi, the newscaster who had emceed the previous day’s alumni event. The University’s ōen-dan cheerleading club, a union member, then delivered a performance to an enthusiastic reception. Finally, the audience of approximately 300 voted to select the best club introduction video, following which a representative from the winning club received a prize from Mr Morita.

The final part of the two-day celebrations was a classical music concert, where cellist Masanori Taniguchi and soprano singer Michiyo Iida, both KyotoU graduates, performed with the City of Kyoto Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Junichi Hirokami. With professional announcer Chika Sakai, another KyotoU alumna, acting as the emcee, the event opened with remarks from Dr Sachiko Kuno, executive vice-president for international liaison and international alumni affairs. The set included: Academic Festival Overture, Op 80, by Johannes Brahms; Cello Concerto No 1 in C major, Hob VIIb/1 by Joseph Haydn; and “Ah fors’e lui che l’anima” and “Sempre libera” from the opera La traviata by Giuseppe Verdi. The program also presented a piano performance by Irina Mejoueva and a discussion by the three graduates. The concert ended successfully with an audience of more than 1,000 enjoying powerful and profound performances by the renowned artists.