Professor Ikuo Towhata
Professor Ikuo Towhata (Japan)
Prof. Ikuo Towhata is a professor at the Civil Engineering Department, the University of Tokyo, Japan. He was born in 1954 in Kobe where his parents’ house successfully survived the big earthquake in 1995. This success was not because of the good seismic resistant design of the wooden old house but because of the significant difference between the predominant high frequency of the ground motion in a granular stiff ground and the low natural frequency of the house. This experience convinced him of the theory of structural vibration.
He became interested in geotechnical issues when he was engaged in a construction of small dams and diversion channels in a nearby river when he was around 10 years old. Then his activity was extended to construction of a network of canals even with overpasses and underpasses in the garden. This activity destroyed the scape of the garden and made his father very angry, and this important infrastructure was immediately destroyed. It was reconstructed on the next day and was destroyed immediately again.
His engineering interest lies 50% in geotechnical earthquake engineering and liquefaction as revealed by his publication of the same name (publ. Springer, 2008) and he has been engaged in damage reconnaissance, field investigation, shaking model tests, and laboratory soil tests. Although he does not do much, he is actually interested in developing mathematical tools to reproduce the real phenomenon. After the gigantic earthquake in Japan in March 2011, he has been living an extremely busy life domestically and internationally.
Other fields of his engineering interest are microscopic observation of soil-mechanic phenomenon, weathering and instability of mountain slopes, pile foundations, and many more. To build up the geotechnical engineering for the people, he is operating an international project on early warning of rainfall-induced slope failure that will make it possible for local residents to evacuate in advance. In general, he is interested in human-earth interactions and is planning to write a book on this topic some day in future.
His interest is not limited to engineering. He loves reading books on world history. This hobby makes his international trips very enjoyable, visiting many historical sites all over the world. Also, during commuting by metro, he reads Russian heavy novels by Dostoyevsky, Sholokhov, and Solzhenitsyn. Heavy symphonies by Brahms and Shostakovich are also good to him. The Far-East-Asian black-and-white landscape picture is another target of his love. Recently he has completed his visits at world major geysers and also at major historical places along the Silk Road from Turkey through Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to China. The latter endeavor took him 20 years.
His former students at University of Tokyo, Japan, and the Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, are distributed in most Asian countries as well as in Turkey, Switzerland, UK, Ethiopia, Uganda, USA, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Australia and New Zealand together with more countries in near future.
He has two sons, who are a psychologist and a civil engineer, and one daughter as well as three granddaughters. As of October 10, 2013, he does not know how to use EXCEL.