Kusumoto Ine (楠本イネ)

Ine KUSUMOTO (May 31, 1827 - August 27, 1903) was an obstetrician and the first Japanese woman who learned the western medical science. She was the daughter of Philipp Franz von Siebold, who was the in-house doctor of the Douch Trading House in Japan. Kusumoto' was her mother, Taki KUSUMOTO's family name.

Brief Personal History

Her mother Taki (also called Otaki) was a daughter of a merchant, however, she used the pseudonym of 'Sonogi' and visited Dejima (a small artificial island constructed in the Nagasaki bay under the national isolation policy during the Tokugawa Shogunate, where the Dutch Trading House was located), posing as a yujo to see Siebold, since only yujo (prostitutes) were allowed to enter Dejima at that time, and she got married to him. According to one theory, Ine was born in Dejima, Nagasaki, and she lived there. A painting by Keiga KAWAHARA shows her happy time at home in Dejima during her childhood, however, her father Siebold was banished from Japan in 1828, when she was two years old.

Ine studied medical science from Keisaku NINOMIYA and Soken ISHII, who were Siebold's disciples, and learned Dutch from Zoroku MURATA (later Masujiro OMURA). From 1859 (表記の変更) she learned obstetrics and pathology under Johannes Pompe van Meerdervoort, and from 1862 she continued learning under Anthonius Bauduin, who was the substitute of van Meerdervoort. In a later year, when Omura was assaulted, she took care of Omura under Bauduin's medical treatment, and she was by his bedside when he died. In 1858 when Dutch-Japanese Treaty of Amity and Commerce was concluded, Siebold's banishment was withdrawn, and she reunited with her father Siebold, who came over to Japan again, in Nagasaki and she learned Western medical science (Western studies) under her father. Her father Siebold, who settled in a residence located in Narutaki, Nagasaki and returned to associate himself with his former disciples and his daughter Ine, continued his Japanese studies, and in 1861 he was invited by the bakufu (Japanese government headed by a shogun) to hold the post of diplomatic adviser in Edo (present Tokyo), where he also gave lectures on the European studies.

Although she suffered discrimination, as she was a female child born between a German and a Japanese and one of the very few mixed children at that time, she received a good treatment of the lord of Uwajima Domain, Munenari DATE. In 1871, she started in practice in Tsukiji, Tokyo, thanks to the supported given by her paternal half-brothers (older brother, Alexander von Siebold and younger brother Heinrich von Siebold), and she was appointed Goyo-gakari (a general official of the Imperial Household) of the Imperial Household Ministry, as her medical skill was highly evaluated. She also took charge of midwifery for the first son (who had an premature death later) of her younger paternal half-brother Heinrich and his wife Hana IWAMOTO. After that, the medicine certification examination system was introduced in 1875, but Ine did not have qualification of candidacy for an examination because she was a woman, and she was obliged to closed her clinic in Tokyo and returned to her hometown, Nagasaki. In 1884 the medicine certification examination became accessible even for women, but as she was already 57 years old, she thought that there would be little hope of her passing the examination and went into practice of midwifery. At the age of 62, she completely got out of medical practice, closing her maternity hospital in Nagasaki, and went up to Tokyo to live with her daughter's family. Since then, she spent the rest of her life, being taken into care by her younger brother Heinrich. In 1903 she died of food intoxication in Azabu, Tokyo. She was 77 years old. Her grave is located in Kodai-ji Temple in Nagasaki City.

Ine remained unmarried all her life, but she had a daughter, Takako KUSUMOTO, with Kensuke ISHII,