Dr. Keiichi Kodaira majored in physics at the University of Tokyo in 1959, and studied astronomy at the Master Course of the Graduate School, University of Tokyo for 1959-1961. He was granted German scholarship to carry out his Ph.D. research on the stellar atmosphere at the Institute for Theoretical Physics of the University Kiel, obtaining Dr. Sci. in 1964. As a research assistant at the Tokyo Astronomical Observatory, he extended his research on stellar physics by making spectroscopic and photometric observations, being honored with Dr. Sci. of the University of Tokyo. This observational activity was intensified during his stay at CalTech as a research fellow from 1967 through 1969.
Since 1971 he became a staff member of the Faculty of Science, the University of Tokyo, to be engaged in education. He also served the University Heidelberg in Germany as a guest professor for one-year 1972/73. During the 1970s, he pursued research on the chemical composition of stars, and acted as Vice President (1979-82) and President (1982-85) of Commission No. 36 (Theory of Stellar Atmosphere) for the International Astronomical Union.
His interest expanded from stars to galaxies, and developed a new field of "the quantitative classification of galaxies". He found that the essential physical parameters that controlled the observational properties of galaxies were only two. His group was engaged in space astronomy, performing balloon/rocket-born observations of stars and galaxies in ultraviolet and infrared regions.
Since 1982 as Professor at the astronomical observatory, he promoted the Japan National Large Telescope Project, which later resulted in Subaru. As Director General of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan from 1994 through 2000, he led the Subaru Project to completion, and has been promoting the Large Millimeter and Submillimeter Array Project that should be ultimately unified with ALMA.