Ms. Eriko Shinozaki, High School Math Teacher




Ms. Eriko Shinozaki
A high school mathematics teacher at Yokohama, Japan



From left: Mrs. Yukiko Kobayashi, Ms. Eriko Shinozaki and Prof. Makiko Tanaka
From left: Mrs. Yukiko Kobayashi, Ms. Eriko Shinozaki and Prof. Makiko Tanaka

I first met Professor Kobayashi 20 years ago, during my junior year of college, when he was a visiting professor at International Christian University (Tokyo, Japan).  I had always wanted to study mathematics at university and had started as a math major at ICU however not sure if I wanted to continue in mathematics, since out of all the math courses offered at ICU at that time, none of them felt comfortable.

High school was where I always felt confident when studying mathematics and always knew what I was doing. I had to choose between Geometry, Algebra, and Analysis after the fall of my junior year, but at that time, I never considered Geometry as my area of study.  I was even thinking about changing to a chemistry major. However, I took the professor’s class since it was a required subject, not knowing that it would totally change my life. Thus, in my third year of mathematics studies, I thanked God for giving me this opportunity to meet Professor Kobayashi.  I knew he would soon be leaving after the second term (ICU’s academic year is divided into 3 terms), so I fully focused on Geometry, solving everything I could, and visited his office almost every day.

After the end of the term exams, for the first time since high school, I finally achieved a grade at ICU with which I was familiar. When I got my exams back from Professor Kobayashi, he had asked me if I was willing to continue in differential geometry. To tell the truth, all I wanted to do was ask him how I could possibly study differential geometry, due to the fact that there was no differential geometry teacher at ICU!

Subsequently, he kindly advised me to continue my differential geometry studies under Ms. Makiko Tanaka (currently a professor at Tokyo Science University), who was at the time helping us, the ICU students, with our calculus recitations. Fortunately for me, she was also a differential geometry major studying under Professor Kobayashi’s colleague, Professor Nagano at Sophia University. Professor Kobayashi also offered to let me continue my differential geometry studies under his guidance, as well as advise me on my senior thesis which was to be submitted the following year.

I was planning to do most of my studies with him through email correspondence, but during most of my senior year, he was at Tokyo University evaluating its mathematical curriculums, enabling me to meet with him often on the Hongo campus.  I even met him on the day he was returning to Berkeley.  We worked on the thesis, then walked to Ueno station together, and took the train to Narita as we continued our mathematical discussions on the train, shaking hands and saying good bye at the airport.

Since that time, for almost 20 years, I continued to meet with Professor Kobayashi each time he visited Japan for meetings, seminars, university evaluations, and special lectures.  We would meet during his lunch breaks, as well as breaks between lectures. So thanks to Professor Kobayashi, I was able to visit a number of universities and lecture halls throughout the Tokyo and Kansai regions.

What we had been working on together had changed over the years.  During my senior year Professor Kobayashi helped me choose a thesis on the topic of conjugate connections, helped me find a theorem and then sent it to the “Tokyo Journal of Mathematics” under the title, “Conjugate Connections and Moduli Spaces of Connections.”  However, since I decided to work fulltime as a mathematics teacher in a Japanese high school, rather than pursue graduate studies (finding a job was very competitive in Japan in 1995), it became difficult for me to continue with my research.

Then one day, Dr. Kobayashi asked me if he could give this topic to another one of his graduate students, and asked me to help him translate and type, using LaTex, his book “Differential Geometry of Curves and Surfaces” into English instead.  I thanked him very much for allowing me the opportunity to continue working in the field of mathematics with him and appreciate his confidence in my translation and understanding of his work. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to complete the translation together, but I am planning to continue working on the translation with Professor Makiko Tanaka.

In conclusion, I would like to thank all the mathematicians here today for giving me an opportunity to be a part of this memorial service.  I would especially like to thank Professor Makiko Tanaka, who always kindly kept in touch with me, and also Professor Maeda of Keio University, who invited me to this ceremony and gave me this special opportunity.  I am not a practicing mathematician, nor even one of Professor Kobayashi’s students at Berkeley, but only a mere high school teacher.  However, because of my experiences with professor Kobayashi and thanks to the support I have received from everyone I have met through mathematics, I have always believed that mathematics is a wonderful subject that educates not only the brain, but also the heart.  I would like to continue my career in mathematics enthusiastically, dreaming of a day when one of my students would become a renowned mathematician like Professor Kobayashi.

Thank you very much for listening.