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Kinichi Sakurai

Kinichi Sakurai, Japan's most prominent amateur mineralogist, was born in Tokyo on December 11, 1912. His financial income was derived from managing the family chicken restaurant, which he inherited from his grandfather. His interest in minerals is said to have begun in elementary school, when a science teacher assigned his class to bring specimens of pyrite to school. Young Kinichi was unable to find any. In an attempt to make amends for this failure, he later astonished the teacher by bringing to school a whole collection of minerals he had purchased at a local mineral dealership (the Iwamoto mineral shop).

As a teenager in junior high school, Sakurai's interest in minerals became increasingly serious. He began spending time regularly at the Iwamoto mineral shop and attended meetings of a mineral club organized by Otokichi Nagashima (1890-1969; for whom nagashimalite was later named in 1980). Another early mentor was Yaichiro Wakabayashi (1874-1943; for whom wakabayashilite was named in 1970). Nagashima and Wakabayashi introduced the boy to Prof Tei-ichi Ito (1898-1980; for whom itoite was named in 1960) of the University of Tokyo, who allowed him access to the facilities of the mineralogy department. In 1947 Sakurai puhlished, together with Professor Ito, the third edition of Wada's Minerals of Japan.

In 1950 Sakurai received his PhD in mineralogy from the University of Tokyo; his dissertation characterized the new zeolite species yugawaralite. Sakurai subsequently described four new mineral species, as primary author for yugawaralite (1952) and as coauthor for parasymplesite (1954), wakabayashilite (1970), and kimuraite (1986). He was also the initial discoverer and provider of the type specimens used in the characterization the new species jimhoite (1963) and native ruthenium (1974). He died at on October 6, 1993, at the age of 80. At that time his collection of over 15,000 specimens included 90% of the species known to occur in Japan.

Sakurai received numerous honors during his lifetime. In 1965, Akira Kato named the new mineral species sakuraiite for him, and the Chigaku Kenkyu of Geoscience Magazine published a special "Sakurai Issue" in his honor. In 1973, Kato published a book on his mineral collectionóSakurai Kobutsu Hyohon ("Sakurai Mineral Collection"). And in 1981, Hidemichi Hori named the new mineral species kinichilite in his honor, thereby making Kinichi Sakurai one of only a small handful of people who have had two minerals named after them.

RAKOVAN, A. and PETROV, A. (2006) News from Japan (part 4). Rocks & Minerals, 81, 188-198.
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