As the oldest and one of the most well-regarded of Japan’s national universities, the University of Tokyo has been home to some of the best and brightest minds of not just Japan, but of the world. The alumni of the University of Tokyo have taken home Nobel Prizes, become Prime Ministers, and contributed in innumerable ways to society – from science, to politics, to the arts. Here are seven of them:

1.   Takaaki Kajita

Takaaki Kajita

Takaaki Kajita, together with Arthur McDonald (Canada), is a Japanese physicist who received the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics for contributions to the discovery of neutrinos oscillation. His contributions pushed the boundaries of what we know of particle physics.

2.   Kikunae Ikeda

The seasoning that forms the foundation of so many dishes in Japanese cuisine – monosodium L-glutamate, otherwise referred colloquially as “Ajinomoto” or in flavor profiles as “Umami”, was discovered by Kikunae Ikeda, a graduate and later professor at the University of Tokyo’s Chemistry Department.

3.   Yoichi Wada

Yoichi Wada was the former President and representative director of Square Enix, one of the most famous video game developer and distribution companies from Japan. Some of its most popular games include Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and Dragon Quest. Under Yoichi Wada, Square Enix has put out some of its most well-known games from the Final Fantasy series.

4.   Naoko Yamazaki

Naoko Yamazaki

Naoko Yamazaki is the second Japanese woman to qualify for the astronaut program at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and the first mother to go into space. In 2010, she flew to the International Space Station (ISS) where she operated remote systems and coordinated cargo transference.

5.   Yoshinori Ohsumi

Yoshinori Ohsumi

Another Nobel Prize winner, Yoshinori Ohsumi is a cell biologist who was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his contributions to the understanding of how cells function. He specializes in autophagy – how cells destroy and recycle cellular parts.

6.   Katsuko Saruhashi

The first woman to earn a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Tokyo, Katsuko Saruhashi is a scientist who was a pioneer in the field of geochemistry and oceanography. She was also the first woman elected to the Science Council of Japan and was a great supporter of female scientists in Japan.

7.   Yoji Yamada

Yoji Yamada is a giant in the Japanese film industry. With over 50 years of filmmaking under his belt, Yoji Yamada is one of the most successful Japanese directors, and has won a number of local and international film prizes. Some of his most famous films include The Twilight Samurai and the Tora-san series.

Featured Image is of University of Tokyo’s Hongo Campus By Daderot at the English language Wikipedia, Retrieved from: