Kyoto University has been one of the most developed and cutting edge chemistry and physics based institutions in the world, and it’s resume of alumni reflect that. The ‘Kyoto School’ was a group of 20th Century philosophers who looked to correlate newly studied Western philosophies with the then well established East Asian modes of thought, in particular Mahayana Buddhism.
1 – Yukawa Hideki
The first Japanese citizen to win a Nobel prize, Yukawa Hideki attended Kyoto University. He lectured there briefly before moving to New York and conducting research at Columbia University, where his pion research received international recognition. His research garnered him Japan’s first Nobel prize in 1949.
2 – Fukui Kenichi
After graduating from Kyoto University, Fukui taught at the university for over thirty years. His approach towards chemistry was largely experimental, and throughout his teaching career he emphasized the values of the freedom of scientific experimentation. His lifelong research of the molecular orbital theory of reactivity garnered him a Nobel prize in chemistry in 1981, the first Asiatic to receive such prize.
3 – Mori Shigefumi
Mori’s work in algebraic geometry reclassified the area of three-folds. Mori’s work opened up the Mori program which is currently used in dimensions higher than three. For his work he received the Fields Medal in 1990.
4 – Nishitani Keiji
One of the founding members of the famed Kyoto School of philosophy, a group of thinkers who delved into Western philosophy that critiqued, analyzed, and correlated it with Japanese thought. His contributions, unlike many of his contemporaries, were not political, but instead delved towards the Buddhist similarities with the works of existentialist philosophers such as Kierkegaard.
5 – Frank Hseih
A former Premier of the Republic of China, Frank Hseih studied law at the University of Kyoto and afterwards was a practicing attorny for 12 years. In 2008 he ran for President but lost to Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang. A co-founder of the Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan, he is currently the head of the Association of Taiwan-Japan Relations.
Cover Photo: Kyoto University Campus