Last week, a big news of a young resercher made headlines all around Japan. Her name is Dr Haruko Kobokata. You may know already for her finding `radical' method of cells that can grow into any tissue in the body called STAP cells.
Sometime ago, Dr Yamanaka ws awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology also by his achievement of finding the mature cells that can be converted to stem cells.
Dr Kobokata has become a hottest person of the moment, unfortunately too many news reporters swarmed around her house, so she and her family refused some interviews which were not related to her research. We wondered if these reporters asked the same questions to Dr Yamanaka(for example, `Do you have a boyfriend?' and so on.) This fact shows, women researchers are still minority and had to be looked at with a great deal of curiosity.
You can read about her research here:
She was wearing Kappogi, a kind of apron with sleeves when she was working in her lab, and she said it was given by her grandmother.
Kappogi is a kind of apron with roomy sleeves worn over kimono. Recently in the famous morning drama(asadora) `Gochisoson', the heroine Meiko is wearing kappogi- The drama is shoiwing the life from early Showa. She got married and came to Osaka, and now raising small children. She is mostly wearing Kappogi now.
Kappogi has this image of `hard-working mother'(Hatarakimono no okaasan), and is quite old-fashioed thing, so it was quite interesting to see the young Dr Kobokata wearing Kappogi in the lab. By the way she loves Moomin, also, and in her lab, there were many Moomin stickers!
There seems a several different stories about the origin of Kappogi but it seems Kappogi was spread from Nippon Joshi dai(Japan Woman's University-founded in 1858 as a `first' education facility stressing independence and freedom of thoughtfor women) .
The students created the workwear to wear over kimono to work in the lab at the collegge.
Then it is not a surprising thing Dr Kobokata wearing Kappogi. In Wiki, it is said,Kappogi was created by Japan's first culinary academy Akabohi Kappo School. Kappo literaly means culinary art, so kappogi is oftne translated as `cooking coat'.
But the person who heard from her grandmother who graduated from Nippon Joshi dai is writing that Wiki information about Kappogi is wrong, and Kappogi was actually created as a `lab coat'. It seems it is true- somehow Kappogi's image of `Good mother' has been taken hold but by the great news of Dr Kobokata, it will be nice we can remember about women researchers in Meiji period. It must have been the environment of these researchers was not good, and also they must been treated as `eccentric' minorities because in that era, people thought no higher education was needed for women.
Dr Kobokata wishes her research can make a contribution for people in future. We hope researchers are treated as the same, no matter they are men or women in future.