Otsuki Gentaku (大槻玄沢)
Gentaku OTSUKI (November 9, 1757 - April 25, 1827) was a Rangakusha (a person who studied Western sciences by means of the Dutch language) from Ichinoseki Domain (Tamura Domain), a branch domain of Sendai Domain during the late Edo Period. His real name was Shigekata and his second name was Bansui. He was a disciple of Genpaku SUGITA and Ryotaku MAENO who were famous for the translation of "Kaitai Shinsho" (New Book of Anatomy). Gentaku' was his nickname which was taken one Chinese character from each of his two masters' names.
He studied under Seian TATEBE, a doctor from the same hometown, and showed his talent for medical science and language when he was young. Later, he studied at Tenshinro, a private school managed by Genpaku SUGITA, who exchanged letters with Seian TATEBE. He established himself in the world of Rangaku (Western studies) after he wrote an introductory book for the Western studies, "Rangaku Kaitei," in 1788. In later years, he was told to revise "Kaitai Shinsho" by his master, Genpaku FUJITA, and wrote "Jutei Kaitai Shinsho" (Kaitai Shinsho Revised). He opened a private school named Shiran-do in Edo, and educated many students.
Genshin UDAGAWA, Sanpaku INAMURA, Sokichi HASHIMOTO, and Saisuke YAMAMURA, were especially famous among Gentaku's disciples and called 'Shitenno (the Big Four) of Shirando.'
He also held a New Year's party called 'the Dutch New Year,' according to the Western calendar at Shirando every year, to which Kodayu DAIKOKUYA, who was drifted to Russia, and others were invited.
After Gentaku, the Otsuki family produced many excellent scholars, and people called 'the Rai family in the west, the Otsuki family in the east' (the Rai family was famous for Sanyo RAI). A son of his children was Bankei OTSUKI, a scholar of the Chinese classics, and one of his grandchildren was Fumihiko OTSUKI, a scholar of the Japanese language.
In their hometown, Ichinoseki City, these three are called 'three wisdoms of Otsuki.'
A head student of Yokendo (a domain school), Heisen OTSUKI, was also from the same family.
His writings remain, such as "Kankai-ibun" (Account of the Tour of Oceans), a record of the interview with the drifted crews from Sendai Domain who were sent back to Japan by a Russian ship because the Sendai Domain requested it.