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A tribute to Kazutake Kohra (1921–2019)

Yoshiyuki Amemiya
[Kazutake Kohra]
Kazutake Kohra photographed in 2016 and the title page from an article that he published, along with Seishi Kikuta, in the first issue of Acta Cryst. A.

Kazutake Kohra, Professor Emeritus of the University of Tokyo, Japan, passed away on 31 January 2019 at the age of 97. After graduating from the University of Kyushu, he was appointed an Associate Professor at the University of Kyushu, and moved to the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of Tokyo in 1953. He spent two years (from September 1955 to December 1957) at the Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft in Berlin, Germany, when Max von Laue acted as its director. In 1963, he moved to the Department of Applied Physics in the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Tokyo and brought up many competent researchers who later on, up to now, have been working in the field of synchrotron radiation research.

Immediately after retiring from the University of Tokyo in 1979, he was appointed the first director of the Photon Factory, which was commissioned in 1982 at Tsukuba, Japan, as one of the first second-generation synchrotron radiation facilities in the world. The realization and success of the Photon Factory would have been impossible without the enormous leadership and great personality of Professor Kohra. He also acted as the first president of the Japanese Society of Synchrotron Radiation Research (JSSRR).

His primary research field was concerned with the dynamical theory of X-ray diffraction and its application to the observation of imperfections of crystals such as silicon and quartz using X-ray topographic methods. The high-precision X-ray optics with multiple crystals that he developed have been highly regarded.

[FEBS lab]Group photo taken in Berlin in 1957. Back row from left to right: Kazutake Kohra, Max von Laue and Gerhard Borrmann. Front row from left to right: Mrs von Laue and Mrs Kohra.

Professor Kohra had very close contact with Dr von Laue during his two-year stay in Berlin (see photo above) and often talked about their valuable interactions to us students, which still remain deeply in myself.

We all appreciated the prominent research activities, enormous leadership and great personality of Professor Kohra, and mourn his loss.


Yoshiyuki Amemiya is Professor Emeritus at the University of Tokyo, Japan.


Search for papers by Kohra, K. in Crystallography Journals Online.

8 May 2019