Kaibara Ekiken (貝原益軒)

Ekiken KAIBARA (December 17, 1630 - October 5, 1714) was a herbalist and Confucianist who lived during the Edo Period. He was the fifth son of Kansai KAIBARA, a feudal retainer of the Fukuoka Domain, Chikuzen Province (present-day Fukuoka Prefecture). His first name was Atsunobu, his Azana (a name received upon reaching an adulthood) was 子誠, his Go (a pseudonym or pen name) was 柔斎 and Sonken (in his later years, Ekiken) and his common name was Kyubei.

Although Ekiken served the Fukuoka Domain, he enraged the second lord of the Domain, Tadayuki KURODA, so he was forced to lead a ronin (masterless samurai) life for seven years. He was then allowed by the third lord of the Fukuoka Domain, Mitsuyuki KURODA. Ekiken learned herbalism and Neo-Confucianism in Kyoto at the expense of the Fukuoka Domain. Around that time, he developed a deep friendship with Junan KINOSHITA, Ansai YAMAZAKI and Sekigo MATSUNAGA. After returning to the Fukuoka Domain, Ekiken bore heavy responsibilities for duties such as giving lectures of Neo-Confucianism, dealing with Korean envoys and solving a territorial dispute with the Saga Domain.

Ekiken compiled the 'Genealogical Table of the KURODA Family' by the order of the Domain. He also compiled the 'Fudoki (descriptions of regional climate, culture, etc.) of Chikuzen Province Second Edition' by traveling throughout the Domain.

Ekiken had liked reading since his childhood and had a wide knowledge of various matters. Having been a positivist, he gained knowledge not only from books, but also from his experience through walking, seeing, using hands and tasting. Also, as Ekiken put an importance on benefiting the society, he used simple words when writing most of his books so that many ordinary people could understand them easily.

Ekiken retired at the age of 70 and dedicated himself into writing later on. He completed 270 books during his life. His masterpieces include books on herbs, such as "Yamato-honzo," "Nafu" and "Kafu." His educational books include "Yojo kun" (precepts for the preservation of health), "Wazoku Doji kun" (precepts for education), and "Gojo kun" (precepts for five eternal virtues). His philosophical books include "Taigi roku." His travel books include "Washu Junran ki" (a travel in Yamato Province).