Okamura grew up in Kochi and has lived here most of his life. His love for astronomy and star lore associated with Kochi Prefecture goes back to childhood. He recalls nights as a boy gazing in wonder at the sky as well as listening to stories of his father and others about the old calendar scholars of ancient Tosa (modern Kochi).
Following World War II, in which his army service was in astronomical calculation and navigation, he returned to Kochi. Always the Renaissance man, Okamura had majored in art but soon found himself teaching science and assuming the duties of principal at one of the top Junior High Schools in Kochi.
Now retired but active as ever, Okamura has an interest in all levels of astronomy. Using the telescope at Geisei Observatory in Kochi Prefecture, he has taken photographs of a number of comets including those of Comet Halley mentioned above. His interest in the History of Astronomy seems boundless. As he has researched the techniques and writings of ancient astronomers in Japan, he has tried to preserve as many relics of those times as possible. In addition, he has built models of the instruments they used. These include planispheres, armillary spheres, sun dials, and astrolabes. He has also ground and polished mirrors for his own telescopes.
A few years ago, editors of the Kochi Shinbun asked Okamura to write an article on astronomy. This became so popular that it grew into a four year stint with Okamura producing an article each week for four years. Okamura is author of three books on History of Astronomy in Tosa. These include Calendar Scholars of Tosa, Matasaburou's Star Diary (see The Tiger Tale Star), and Tosa Astronomical Promenade.
Okamura continues to collect materials on the History of Astronomy in Tosa as well as observe the night sky as often as possible with his good friend, Tsutomu Seki. We were somewhat surprised when we asked him about the fourth book he is working on. Continuing in the vein of integrated scholars before him, his fourth book will be a botanical analysis of flowers found in his home town.
Amateur Astronomer and Historian Keiichiro Okamura beside a memorial to Jinzan Tani, one of the Tosa calendar scholars Okamura often writes about.
Steven L. Renshaw
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