Yaichiro Wakabayashi, celebrated Japanese mining engineer and famous mineral collector, was born in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, on August 30, 1874. Soon after receiving his PhD in 1889 from the Imperial University of Tokyo, he was hired by the Mitsubishi Company, Ltd. as a mining engineer at the Arakawa mine, Akita Prefecture. In 1909, he was promoted to Mine Director there, and later was also appointed Director of the Yoshioka mine, Okayama Prefecture, positions he held for about seven years altogether.
In 1916 he returned to the head office of the company in the post of Chief Engineer for both the Mitsubishi Company and also for the Mitsubishi Mining Company, contributing significantly to the development of mining technology in the first half of the 1900's in Japan. He retired from the Advisory Board of the Mitsubishi Mining Company in 1928, and after spending the following 15 years surrounded by his mineralogical friends, he died in Tokyo in 1943 at the age of 69.
Wakabayashi loved minerals as much as his mining work. Specimens in his mineral collection were selected not only for beauty and rarity, but also for their scientific value. When he turned 60 years old, Wakabayashi donated his entire mineral collection to the Mineralogical Institute of the Imperial University of Tokyo. Prof. Tai-ichi Ito was at that time Director of the Institute, and put the collection to good use in the preparation of such works as his Beitrage zur Mineralogie von Japan (1937), Japanese Minerals in Pictures (1941), and Wada's Minerals of Japan (third edition, by T. Ito and K. Sakurai, 1947).
The Wakabayashi Mineral Collection was transferred in 1966 from the Mineralogical Institute to the University Museum which had been founded at the University of Tokyo. As of 1974 the collection consisted of 1,932 specimens of 182 species and varieties, plus another 1,000 or so specimens which are still awaiting further investigation. The new mineral wakabayashilite, named after Wakabayashi by Akira Kato and others in 1970, was found in the collection (labelled as orpiment).
Today the University of Tokyo mineral collection is housed
in the museum on the university's Hongo (Main) Campus. Dr. Tokuhei Tagai, a mineralogist in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science, is curator of the collection. The museum is very active, and specimens rotate on and off display several times a year.
SADANAGA, R., and BUNNO, M. (1974) The Wakabayashi Mineral Collection in the University Museum of the University of Tokyo. University of Tokyo Press, 178 p.
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