人気ブログランキング |

蘭学とは何か?(Dutch learning) Part 2

Types of Rangaku[edit]

Medical sciences[edit]

Japan’s first fully-fledged translation of a Western book on anatomy (Kaitai Shinsho), published in 1774. (National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo).

From around 1720, books on medical sciences were obtained from the Dutch, and then analyzed and translated into Japanese. Great debates occurred between the proponents of traditional Chinese medicine and those of the new Western learning, leading to waves of experiments and dissections. The accuracy of Western learning made a sensation among the population, and new publications such as the Anatomy (蔵志, Zōshi, lit. "Stored Will") of 1759 and the New Text on Anatomy (解体新書, Kaitai Shinsho, lit. "Understanding [of the] Body New Text") of 1774 became references. The latter was a compilation made by several Japanese scholars, led by Sugita Genpaku, mostly based on the Dutch-language Ontleedkundige Tafelen of 1734, itself a translation of Anatomische Tabellen (1732) by the German author Johann Adam Kulmus.

A Western book on medicine, translated into Kanbun, published in March 1808.

In 1804, Seishū Hanaoka performed the world’s first general anaesthesia during surgery for breast cancer (mastectomy). The surgery involved combining Chinese herbal medicine and Western surgery techniques,[2] 40 years before the better-known Western innovations of Long, Wells and Morton, with the introduction of diethyl ether (1846) and chloroform (1847) as general anaesthetics.

In 1838, the physician and scholar Ogata Kōan established the Rangaku school named Tekijuku. Famous alumni of the Tekijuku include Fukuzawa Yukichi and Ōtori Keisuke, who would become key players in Japan’s modernization. He was the author of 1849’s Introduction to the Study of Disease (病学通論, Byōgaku Tsūron), which was the first book on Western pathology to be published in Japan.

Physical sciences[edit]

Some of the first scholars of Rangaku were involved with the assimilation of 17th century theories in the physical sciences. This is the case of Shizuki Tadao (ja:志筑忠雄) an eighth-generation descendant of the Shizuki house of Nagasaki Dutch translators, who after having completed for the first time a systematic analysis of Dutch grammar, went on to translate the Dutch edition of Introductio ad Veram Physicam of the British author John Keil on the theories of Newton (Japanese title: Rekishō Shinsho (暦象新書, roughly: "New Text on Transitive Effects"), 1798). Shizuki coined several key scientific terms for the translation, which are still in use in modern Japanese; for example, "gravity" (重力, jūryoku), "attraction"[disambiguation needed] (引力, inryoku), and "centrifugal force" (遠心力, enshinryoku). A second Rangaku scholar, Hoashi Banri (ja:帆足万里), published a manual of physical sciences in 1810 – Kyūri-Tsū (窮理通, roughly "On Natural Laws") – based on a combination of thirteen Dutch books, after learning Dutch from just one Dutch-Japanese dictionary.

Electrical sciences[edit]

Japan’s first electrostatic generator (1776), called Elekiteru, developed through Rangaku. (National Museum of Nature and Science).
A curio shop in Osaka demonstrating and selling an Elekiteru. The sign at the entrance says "Newest curiosities from foreign countries."
Japan’s first manual on electric phenomena by Hashimoto Soukichi, published in 1811.

Electrical experiments were widely popular from around 1770. Following the invention of the Leyden jar in 1745, similar electrostatic generators were obtained for the first time in Japan from the Dutch around 1770 by Hiraga Gennai. Static electricity was produced by the friction of a glass tube with a gold-plated stick, creating electrical effects. The jars were reproduced and adapted by the Japanese, who called it "Elekiteru" (エレキテル, Erekiteru). As in Europe, these generators were used as curiosities, such as making sparks fly from the head of a subject or for supposed pseudoscientific medical advantages. In Sayings of the Dutch, the elekiteru is described as a machine that allows one to take sparks out of the human body, to treat sick parts. Elekiterus were sold widely to the public in curiosity shops. Many electric machines derived from the elekiteru were then invented, particularly by Sakuma Shōzan.

Japan’s first electricity manual, Fundamentals of the elekiteru Mastered by the Dutch (阿蘭陀始制エレキテル究理原, Oranda Shisei Erekiteru Kyūri-Gen) by Hashimoto Soukichi (ja:橋本宗吉), published in 1811, describes electrical phenomena, such as experiments with electric generators, conductivity through the human body, and the 1750 experiments of Benjamin Franklin with lightning.


A description of a Volta battery in Udagawa’s Opening Principles of Chemistry, published in 1840. The title reads "Decomposition of an alkali with a Volta column."
Chemical experiments in Udagawa’s 1840 Seimi Kaisō.

In 1840, Udagawa Yōan published his Opening Principles of Chemistry (舎密開宗, Seimi Kaisō), a compilation of scientific books in Dutch, which describes a wide range of scientific knowledge from the West. Most of the Dutch original material appears to be derived from William Henry’s 1799 Elements of Experimental Chemistry. In particular, the book contains a detailed description of the electric battery invented by Volta forty years earlier in 1800. The battery itself was constructed by Udagawa in 1831 and used in experiments, including medical ones, based on a belief that electricity could help cure illnesses.

Udagawa’s work reports for the first time in details the findings and theories of Lavoisier in Japan. Accordingly, Udagawa made scientific experiments and created new scientific terms, which are still in current use in modern scientific Japanese, like "oxidation" (酸化, sanka), "reduction" (還元, kangen), "saturation" (飽和, hōwa), and "element" (元素, genso).

Optical sciences[edit]


Edo women using a telescope. Early 19th century.

Japan’s first telescope was offered by the English captain John Saris to Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1614, with the assistance of William Adams, during Saris’ mission to open trade between England and Japan. This followed the invention of the telescope by Dutchman Hans Lippershey in 1608 by a mere six years. Refracting telescopes were widely used by the populace during the Edo period, both for pleasure and for the observation of the stars.

After 1640, the Dutch continued to inform the Japanese about the evolution of telescope technology. Until 1676 more than 150 telescopes were brought to Nagasaki.[3] In 1831, after having spent several months in Edo where he could get accustomed with Dutch wares, Kunitomo Ikkansai (a former gun manufacturer) built Japan’s first reflecting telescope of the Gregorian type. Kunitomo’s telescope had a magnification of 60, and allowed him to make very detailed studies of sun spots and lunar topography. Four of his telescopes remain to this day.


Microscopes were invented in The Netherlands during the 17th century, but it is unclear when exactly they reached Japan. Clear descriptions of microscopes are made in the 1720 Nagasaki Night Stories Written (長崎夜話草, Nagasaki Yawasō) and in the 1787 book Saying of the Dutch. Although Europeans mainly used microscopes to observe small cellular organisms, the Japanese mainly used them for entomological purposes, creating detailed descriptions of insects.

Magic lanterns[edit]

Mechanism of a magic lantern, from Tengu-tsū, 1779.

Magic lanterns, first described in the West by Athanasius Kircher in 1671, became very popular attractions in multiple forms in 18th-century Japan.

The mechanism of a magic lantern, called "shadow picture glasses" (影絵眼鏡, Kagee Gankyō) was described using technical drawings in the book titled Tengu-tsū (天狗通) in 1779.

Mechanical sciences[edit]


Tea-serving karakuri, with mechanism, 19th century. National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo.

Karakuri are mechanized puppets or automata from Japan from the 18th century to 19th century. The word means "device" and carries the connotations of mechanical devices as well as deceptive ones. Japan adapted and transformed the Western automata, which were fascinating the likes of Descartes, giving him the incentive for his mechanist theories of organisms, and Frederick the Great, who loved playing with automatons and miniature wargames.

Many were developed, mostly for entertainment purposes, ranging from tea-serving to arrow-shooting mechanisms. These ingenious mechanical toys were to become prototypes for the engines of the industrial revolution. They were powered by spring mechanisms similar to those of clocks.


An 18th-century wadokei (Japanese clock).

Mechanical clocks were introduced into Japan by Jesuit missionaries or Dutch merchants in the sixteenth century. These clocks were of the lantern clock design, typically made of brass or iron, and used the relatively primitive verge and foliot escapement. These led to the development of an original Japanese clock, called Wadokei.

Neither the pendulum nor the balance spring were in use among European clocks of the period, and as such they were not included among the technologies available to the Japanese clockmakers at the start of the isolationist period in Japanese history, which began in 1641. As the length of an hour changed during winter, Japanese clock makers had to combine two clockworks in one clock. While drawing from European technology they managed to develop more sophisticated clocks, leading to spectacular developments such as the Universal Myriad year clock designed in 1850 by the inventor Tanaka Hisashige, the founder of what would become the Toshiba corporation.


Vacuum pump drawing by Udagawa, 1834.
Description of perpetual lamps (無尽灯) using compressed air fuelling mechanisms.
Air gun developed by Kunitomo, circa 1820–1830.

Air pump mechanisms became popular in Europe from around 1660 following the experiments of Boyle. In Japan, the first description of a vacuum pump appear in Aochi Rinsō (ja:青地林宗)’s 1825 Atmospheric Observations (気海観瀾, Kikai Kanran), and slightly later pressure pumps and void pumps appear in Udagawa Shinsai (宇田川榛斎(玄真))’s 1834 Appendix of Far-Western Medical and Notable Things and Thoughts (遠西医方名物考補遺, Ensei Ihō Meibutsu Kō Hoi). These mechanisms were used to demonstrate the necessity of air for animal life and combustion, typically by putting a lamp or a small dog in a vacuum, and were used to make calculations of pressure and air density.

Many practical applications were found as well, such as in the manufacture of air guns by Kunitomo Ikkansai, after he repaired and analyzed the mechanism of some Dutch air guns which had been offered to the Shogun in Edo. A vast industry of perpetual oil lamps (無尽灯, Mujin Hi) developed, also derived by Kunitomo from the mechanism of air guns, in which oil was continuously supplied through a compressed air mechanism.[4] Kunitomo developed agricultural applications of these technologies, such as a giant pump powered by an ox, to lift irrigation water.

Aerial knowledge and experiments[edit]

Drawing of a Western hot air balloon, from the 1787 Sayings of the Dutch.
First demonstration of a hot air balloon in Umegasaki, Japan, in 1805 by Johann Caspar Horner.

The first flight of a hot air balloon by the brothers Montgolfier in France in 1783, was reported less than four years later by the Dutch in Dejima, and published in the 1787 Sayings of the Dutch.

In 1805, almost twenty years later, the Swiss Johann Caspar Horner and the Prussian Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff, two scientists of the Kruzenshtern mission that also brought the Russian ambassador Nikolai Rezanov to Japan, made a hot air balloon out of Japanese paper (washi) and made a demonstration of the new technology in front of about 30 Japanese delegates.[5]

Hot air balloons would mainly remain curiosities, becoming the object of experiments and popular depictions, until the development of military usages during the early Meiji era.

Steam engines[edit]

Drawing from the Japanese book Odd Devices of the Far West, completed in 1845 but published in 1854.
A steamship described in Odd Devices of the Far West.
Japan’s first steam engine, manufactured in 1853 by Tanaka Hisashige.

Knowledge of the steam engine started to spread in Japan during the first half of the 19th century, although the first recorded attempts at manufacturing one date to the efforts of Tanaka Hisashige in 1853, following the demonstration of a steam engine by the Russian embassy of Yevfimy Putyatin after his arrival in Nagasaki on August 12, 1853.

The Rangaku scholar Kawamoto Kōmin completed a book named Odd Devices of the Far West (遠西奇器述, Ensei Kiki-Jutsu) in 1845, which was finally published in 1854 as the need to spread Western knowledge became even more obvious with Commodore Perry’s opening of Japan and the subsequent increased contact with industrial Western nations. The book contains detailed descriptions of steam engines and steamships. Kawamoto had apparently postponed the book’s publication due to the Bakufu’s prohibition against the building of large ships.


Topographical work via European methods, 1848 print from Regional Survey Maps (地方測量之図, Jikata Sokuryō no Zu).
Japanese world map published in 1792, by Shiba Kōkan, "Complete Map of the Earth" (地球全図, Chikyū Zenzu).

Modern geographical knowledge of the world was transmitted to Japan during the 17th century through Chinese prints of Matteo Ricci's maps as well as globes brought to Edo by chiefs of the VOC trading post Dejima. This knowledge was regularly updated through information received from the Dutch, so that Japan had an understanding of the geographical world roughly equivalent to that of contemporary Western countries. With this knowledge, Shibukawa Shunkai made the first Japanese globe in 1690.

Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, considerable efforts were made at surveying and mapping the country, usually with Western techniques and tools. The most famous maps using modern surveying techniques were made by Inō Tadataka between 1800 and 1818 and used as definitive maps of Japan for nearly a century. They do not significantly differ in accuracy with modern ones, just like contemporary maps of European lands.


Animal plate by Itō Keisuke.
Description of insects in the Sayings of the Dutch, 1787.
The first gibbon brought to Japan in modern times (1809), drawn by Mori Sosen

The description of the natural world made considerable progress through Rangaku; this was influenced by the Encyclopedists and promoted by von Siebold (a German doctor in the service of the Dutch at Dejima). Itō Keisuke created books describing animal species of the Japanese islands, with drawings of a near-photographic quality.

Entomology was extremely popular, and details about insects, often obtained through the use of microscopes (see above), were widely publicized.

In a rather rare case of "reverse Rangaku" (that is, the science of isolationist Japan making its way to the West), an 1803 treatise on the raising of silk worms and manufacture of silk, the Secret Notes on Sericulture (養蚕秘録, Yōsan Hiroku) was brought to Europe by von Siebold and translated into French and Italian in 1848, contributing to the development of the silk industry in Europe.

Plants were requested by the Japanese and delivered from the 1640s on, including flowers such as precious tulips and useful items such as the cabbage and the tomato.

by kabu_kachan | 2018-01-17 21:35 | 歴史 | Comments(0)
<< 「フェイクニュース賞」発表=ト... 蘭学とは何か?(Dutch l... >>