Japanese language and Nobel Prize 2016/10/03

Last year two Japanese scientists received Nobel Prize, Dr. Satoshi Omura and Dr. Takaaki Kajita. There are 16 Japanese who honorably received Nobel Prize in 21st century, which is second after 50 of USA.


Dr. Omura, who received Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, has studied and found many helpful organic compounds and successfully contributed to medical care for clients who are suffering from various germs.

When Dr. Omura was asked the reason why so many Japanese could win Nobel Prizes, he replied because they use Japanese language.


Japanese is old and characteristic language which does not have similar language in the world. Japanese Archipelago has been surrounded by sea and off from Eurasia continent. There is possibility that own particular language has been developed in a closed circumstance.

Japanese did not have original letters. They got to know Chinese letters around 2000 years ago, however they did not commonly use Chinese letters for around 500 years until when they had developed “ kana” letters from Chinese letters to keep Japanese pronunciation. “ Kana” letters, which is phonogram, can be good adjuncts to Chinese letters, which is ideogram, and also can be main letters sometime.

It is good daily excise for Japanese people to use both Chinese letters and “ kana” letters properly and elegantly not only in writing but also in conversation.


Mid Edo era, around 300 years ago, the literacy rate among Edo citizen already reached 80 % and the literacy rate among all Japan was around 50%, those figures were much higher than that of then European nations.  These high literacy rates have been contributing essentially to accumulate common sense of literary history and social culture.

With the background of such thickly accumulated common sense, most Japanese can imagine tremendous kinds of imagination from single Japanese word.

Such Japanese culture may be able to contribute to develop unique ideas, some of which can reach to Nobel Prize.


Tonight we had another good news. Another Japanese scientist, Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi won Nobel Prize of 2016 for Physiology or Medicine.


img_a1b97b1e237bd6f15c6f9ef54aa782ae450088 Dr.Ohmura in his museum