New Kyurizukai
So far Dr. Furukawa has met a number of wonderful people and enjoyed engaging in research in various places. He sincerely wishes that his students never forget the “joy of thinking” no matter how small or trivial the theme in question may seem. His experience of continuing research on metalloproteins, an interdisciplinary field between biochemistry and inorganic chemistry, makes him keenly aware of the importance of maintaining an interest in various fields of study.

What was your childhood like?
      As an elementary schoolboy, I spent almost everyday playing baseball with my friends till dark immediately after coming back home from school. I wanted to become a professional star player at the Hanshin Tigers team in the future. I really meant it. I was also fond of insects and other living things. After school, I would go to a nearby open space to catch grasshoppers or to a rice paddy or irrigation canal to catch tadpoles and crayfish.
      Although I was not so much interested in school studies, as an elementary school fifth or sixth grader, I was unexpectedly awakened to the “fun of thinking.” Mr. Goto in charge of our class at the time was a teacher of a somewhat peculiar type, who let us elementary school students think about the relationship between the brightness of stars and their distances to the Earth, or taught us about various properties of atoms using a periodic table of the elements. What’s more, he would often take us outdoors to let us understand the importance of observing and experiencing things in the field. Looking back at those days, I think these experiences might have been too advanced in content for us, but we could feel the fun of learning firsthand.

Why did you find an interest in chemistry?
      During my junior and senior high school days, I took up challenges of the International Mathematical Olympiad and several other contests, where I found a world of enjoying the beauty of solving problems, rather than merely seeking to find answers. There I found bright people’s solving methods extremely simple. They did not try to rush at solving problems, but solved problems exquisitely after thinking them through. The enviable environment surrounded by such people, I think, led me to awaken to the fun of learning.
      I still remember one day. During a chemistry class on the electronic theory of organic chemistry, I was fascinated by its clear-cut approaches. I was greatly motivated to study this simple, beautiful field – chemistry – more deeply and chose to learn at Kyoto University with a good reputation for chemistry.
photo      At Kyoto University, however, I did not attend classes so diligently because the university in those days allowed its students to graduate only if they pass exams. So, I learned chemistry mainly by reading a variety of textbooks. Instead, I would actively take part in reading circles of Latin and German language seminars while also attending other seminars on the campus as an audit student. Thus I exposed myself to studies other than chemistry, which later proved to be very good experiences. By doing so, I was also able to make a number of good friends, with whom I fully enjoyed my campus life. In retrospect, however, it’s a pity I missed many of the classes by prominent professors representing Japan’s chemistry learning.