Kihara Memorial Foundation
Academic Award

In Support of
Original Scientists and
Their Potential

The Kihara Memorial Foundation Academic Award was established in 1992 to commemorate the 100th birthday of the late Professor Hitoshi Kihara. Since its first conferment in 1993, the award has been given out more than 30 times. It recognizes the valuable accomplishments of outstanding and original researchers who operate in Japan, are age 50 or younger, and are active in the life sciences—particularly those expected to bolster field of life sciences research as a whole. Moreover, the award is intended to encourage greater advances in the field moving forward.

Recipient Candidate Submission

  • Eligibility

    The proposed candidate for award receipt must be active in the life sciences field, be age 50 or younger (as of the submission deadline), and conduct their work in Japan. Furthermore, the candidate must engage in high-level, foundational research that is original and unique, demonstrate impactful research results, and show promise for even greater advances and achievements moving forward.

  • No. of Awards

    As a general rule, only one award is given out each year.

  • Selection Process

    A selection committee comprising experts in the field select potential award recipients, and a final decision is made by the Kihara Memorial Yokohama Foundation for the Advancement of Life Sciences.

  • Award Details

    The award winner receives an award certificate and ¥2 million in prize money, and is honored with a commemorative plaque.

Award Winner Commemorative Plaque

During his time working at the National Institute of Genetics, Hitoshi Kihara became captivated with views of the beautiful flowers of the Japanese dogwood (Cornus kousa) in nearby Hakone. He established and served as head of the Japanese Dogwood Flower Appreciation Society, which visited Hakone every year to view the flowers when they came into bloom. One year, however, Kihara learned that the trees were being cut down to make way for a golf course, so he took action to protect the trees from further destruction. Thanks to these efforts, 53 hectares of primeval forest were preserved as the Hakone Arboretum, and Kihara was named honorary arboretum director. For the rest of his life, he spread the word as widely as possible regarding the beauty of these trees and their flowers.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the “Research Team on Historical Changes Among Flora Around Lake Ashinoko and the Hakone Region,” with Kihara as the central figure, pursued enthusiastic investigations into changes among the flowers of the Japanese dogwood as well as research on its floral organs. In remembrance of these activities, the Kihara Memorial Foundation Academic Award's commemorative plaque features on its right half a single branch from a Japanese dogwood, and on its left half a Japanese phrase spoken in 1946 by Kihara himself, which translates as follows: “The history of our planet is recorded in the chromosomes of the living organisms found throughout its strata.” The plaque uses a pure-silver base with gold leaf accents in relief, and is mounted in a walnut frame.