Yoshio Genkitsu : Life and Works of a Forgotten Scholar of "Dutch Studies"

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Yoshio Genkitsu : Life and Works of a Forgotten Scholar of "Dutch Studies"

Kyushu Univ. Production Kyushu Univ. Production
Title(Other Language):
吉雄元吉 : 忘れられた蘭学者の生涯と著作について
Michel, Wolfgang(Faculty of Languages and Cultures, Kyushu University : Professor : History of Euro-Japanese Cultural Exchange)
Publication info:
Studies in Languages and Cultures. 23, pp. 89-109, 2008-02-23. Kyushu University, Faculty of Languages and Cultures
Yoshio Genkitsu practiced and taught medicine for at least two decades with great success. In a diary entry dated March 1790, Sugita Gempaku refers to him as “Shian-sensei”, indicating an equal footing between these two scholars of “Dutch Studies” (rangaku). Nevertheless, little is known about Yoshio Genkitsu, alias Shian, who settled in Kyoto around 1799 and started one of the earliest private “Dutch Studies” schools in the Kinki region. Since Ôtsuki Joden included Yoshio in his “Chronological Table of Western Studies” (Nihon Yôgaku nenpyô) in 1877, only a few minor discoveries have been reported. Based on sources listed by Ôtsuki and “The History of Medicine in Kyoto” (Kyôto igaku-shi, 1980), as well as manuscripts recently discovered by the author, this study aims at a more detailed and comprehensive description of Yoshio's teachings and writings. The name of Yoshio's school, Rikugadô, taken from a classical poem in the “Book of Odes“ (Shijing, Liao e) that laments parents left behind far away, as well as an example of a medical treatment given in his manuscript “Surgical Tradition of the Rikuga-Hall” (Rikugadô geka densho), suggest that he was born in Kyushu. Family ties to Yoshio Kôgyû, the renowned pioneer of “Dutch Studies” in Nagasaki, however, cannot be verified. Yoshio Genkitsu taught Dutch reading and writing using a copy of a manuscript written in 1785 by Maeno Ryôtaku, who was instrumental in the epoch-making translation of Kulmus's “Anatomical Tables” and might well have been his language teacher. At an early stage of his career, Yoshio also received instruction from an unidentified European surgeon at the Dutch trading post at Dejima. By 1822, he had become famous enough to be included in Kyoto's Who's Who, “Heian Personalities” (Heian Jimbutsu shi). As was customary in many private schools at that time, Yoshio's teachings were recorded by his students, six of whom left their names in related manuscripts. These writings show that he was not at all a blind adherent to Western ideas. The occasional use of a Chinese alias (Teibi) and manuscript titles such as “Medical Words from Shrike Tongues” (Gekizetsu iden) show his profound classical education, as well as a certain dislike for Dutch sounds. Nevertheless, he taught language using Maeno's “Translation Aids” (Oranda yakusen), an outstanding manuscript compiled on the basis of Dutch teaching materials such as Barend Hakvoord's “Opregt onderwys in de letter-konst” and Willem Bartjens' “De vernieuwe cyfferinge”. Here we find Maeno's unique translation technique developed for Dutch texts, a short glossary, basic Dutch expressions, and several types of letters, ligatures, and other useful information. Among the extant medical manuscripts, “The Book on Anomalies” (Seiheki kôhen) is an ambitious and historically very early attempt to understand Western humoral pathology. The use of Dutch terms such as “zeymig vocht” (viscid humidity), “zuuren der vogt” (acidity of humidity) , and “alcalinius” (alkali) points to a modernized version containing the iatrochemical concepts of Franciscus Sylvius and Herman Boerhaave. Yoshio's surgery begins with the treatment of “swellings” (ulcers, fistulas, abscesses, tumors, etc.) combining Chinese nomenclature with Western treatment methods. “Surgical Tradition of the Rikuga-Hall” (Rikugadô geka densho) presents dozens of Western pharmaceuticals such as Aqua Mercurialis, Tinctura Myhrrae, Mel Rosarum, Theriaca, Emplastrum Diapalmae, Salpeter, Petra Cananor, and Sal Ammoniacis. The scope of their application exceeds the established usage of plasters and ointments for “swellings” and wounds. Yoshio uses Sal Ammoniacis, for example, with success in more than 100 cases of epileptic seizures. Before starting surgical treatment, he demands careful preparation of the necessary medicaments and instruments (scissors, knives, needles, cauter irons, syringes, etc.), and even describes in detail an operation on cheilognathopalatoschisis. Several of Yoshio's handwritten texts dealing with oils, plasters, ointments, tinctures, and syrups are translated excerpts from European books. The most advanced manuscript, “Excerpts on Liquid Medicines from the Far West” (Ensei kisui bassui), gives the name of each medicament in Latin, and describes its production and usage. Yoshio talks about his own experiences, discusses Japanese substitutes, and accepts or refutes given usages of medicaments. In the case of Mel Rosarum (rose honey), he even makes a blunt attack on the revered Yoshio Kôgyû. Rooted deeply in the world of Chinese classics while studying Western medicine from an independent perspective, combining tradition, observation, and experience without much respect for great names, Yoshio Genkitsu must have been a somewhat difficult character. Perhaps this is why we do not find more traces of interactions with his colleagues in “Dutch Studies”, where he deserves a much more prominent place. Read more
Table of Contents:
はじめに・1 先行研究・2 元吉の生涯について・3 元吉の教え・3.1 オランダ語学習・3.2 医療・外科治療・医薬品・おわりに
はじめに・1 先行研究・2 元吉の生涯について・3 元吉の教え・3.1 オランダ語学習・3.2 医療・外科治療・医薬品・おわりに

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