New Kyurizukai
Kenichi Bannai in interested in solving problems in number theory using a geometric approach. He spent most of his childhood in the United States before permanently returning to Japan in high school. It was during this period that he became increasingly fascinated by mathematics. He loves mathematical speculation so much that it has now become his major “hobby.” Bannai has found in mathematics the capacity that could guide our relationships with society or with other members of community. Based on this experience, he aims to promote mathematics in a more open way.

You spent your childhood in the United States. Since when?
      Since when I was 2-years old. Both of my parents are mathematicians, and our family moved to the States in the mid 70’s when my father was offered a position at the Ohio State University. Except for two years of kindergarten, I lived in the States until I returned permanently to Japan near the end of high school.

Growing up in the States, did you consider going to an American university?
      At the time when my family was thinking about returning to Japan, I had graduated early from high school and received offers from several American universities to attend. It was in the late 80’s, when the world was feeling threatened by the rapid rise of the Japanese economy. Japan was portrayed as a country whose people were forced to work like machines all year around. Viewing repeated TV footage showing Japanese employees exercising in unison, I received the depressing impression that Japan was a country without freedom or individuality.
      Then one day, I encountered Hayao Miyazaki’s film “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.” It was a fantastic visual depiction of an ecosystem totally different from our world, and I was totally overwhelmed by the force of imagination that could create such a world. This experience deepened my interest in Japan, and influenced my decision to return to Japan with my family.