Yoshimaro Yamashina

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Yoshimaro Yamashina
Born (1900-07-05)5 July 1900
Kōjimachi, Tokyo, Japan
Died 28 January 1989(1989-01-28) (aged 88)
Tokyo, Japan
Nationality Japan
Fields Ornithology
Institutions Yamashina Institute for Ornithology
Alma mater Tokyo Imperial University
Hokkaido University
Notable awards Jean Delacour Prize (1977)
Order of the Golden Ark (1978)

Marquis Yoshimaro Yamashina (山階 芳麿 Yamashina Yoshimaro?, July 5, 1900 – January 28, 1989) was a Japanese ornithologist. He was the founder of the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology.


Yamashina was born in Kōjimachi, Tokyo, the second son of Prince Kikumaro Yamashina. He developed a love of birds at an early age, which were found in abundance on the vast Yamashina estate in Tokyo. He was presented with a stuffed mandarin duck for his sixth birthday present.

Yamashina attended the Gakushuin Peer’s School, and per the orders of Emperor Meiji entered the Imperial Japanese Army, graduating from the 33rd class of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy with a specialty in artillery.

In 1920, per a revision in the Imperial Household Law, he lost his status as an imperial prince, and was given the peerage title of marquis (shishaku) on 20 July, and was promoted in military rank to lieutenant, also being conferred with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun on the same date. However, he resigned his commission in the Army in 1929 to pursue his interest in zoology, and entered Tokyo Imperial University, graduating in 1931.

In 1932, he set up the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology at his home in Shibuya, Tokyo, to house his extensive bird collections, ornithological library, and research facilities. He specialized in research on the avian species of Asia and the Pacific Ocean, and conducted his doctoral research on avian cytology, in affiliation with Hokkaido University. He obtained his doctorate in this field in 1942.

Afterwards, he devoted considerable effort into genetic research on the chromosomes of birds, and the use of DNA to distinguish between species.

In 1984, the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology has moved to its present location in Abiko, Chiba.

Over his career, Yamashina was author of numerous technical papers, and several books. He was co-author of the Handlist of the Japanese Birds, and author of Birds in Japan (1961). In 1981 he described a new species of flightless rail from Okinawa Island. In 1966, he was awarded the Japanese Medal with Purple Ribbon and in 1977 was awarded the Jean Delacour Prize. In 1978 he received the Order of the Golden Ark from the World Wildlife Fund. Among Yamashina’s scientific first descriptions are the Okinawa Rail, the Daito Winter Wren, the Rota Bridled White-eye, the Long-billed White-eye, the Tinian Monarch and the Palau Owl.


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