Group of 100 Devotees of Koyasan and Kumano


Member Profiles

Professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo

Tadatsugu Taniguchi


Tadatsugu Taniguchi was born in Shimizu in Aridagawa Town in Arida District, Wakayama Prefecture. His elementary school consisted of mixed-age classes due to the community’s small size. After earning his doctorate at the University of Zurich, he became the director of the Department of Biochemistry at the Cancer Institute of the Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research (JFCR). He later served as a professor at the Osaka University Cell Engineering Center and then a professor at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Tokyo (from 1995 to 2012). Currently, he serves as an advisor in the Office of the Director at the University of Tokyo Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology.
Principal awards received by Taniguchi include the Hammer Prize for Cancer Research (U.S.), the Asahi Award, the Robert-Koch Prize (Germany), the Fujihara Award, the Keio Medical Science Prize, the Wakayama Prefecture Culture Award, the Japan Academy Prize, the Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Cancer Research (Italy and U.S.), and an honorary doctorate from the University of Zurich. He’s been designated a Person of Cultural Merit by the Japanese government and an honorary citizen by Aridagawa Town in Wakayama Prefecture.

Transforming Wakayama Prefecture into a symbol of Japan as a cultural superpower

I am extremely honored to have been chosen as a member of the Group of 100 Devotees of Koyasan and Kumano. Thanks to the hard work of Wakayama Prefecture and numerous involved individuals, Koyasan and Kumano were registered as World Heritages in 2004. I’m particularly familiar with Koyasan because I was born and raised in a mountain village in Arida District, Wakayama Prefecture. At the time, village residents had to cross a mountain in order to visit Koyasan. My uncle trained at Koyasan and became a Buddhist priest. When I was little, my mother read the picture book Ishidomaru to me, and the tragedy it described made me cry. Koyasan and Kumano, which illustrate the deep connection between human life and nature, are exactly the sort of heritage of which the world should be proud, but the question of how we can take advantage of that legacy in the future is an important one. I believe that it will be important to take advantage of the characteristics of Wakayama Prefecture not only to promote it as a tourist destination, but also to develop it as a place that will play a central role in establishing Japan as a cultural superpower by spreading scholarly, artistic, and other activities. I look forward to doing my own small part in this effort as a resident of Wakayama Prefecture.

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