James Curtis Hepburn (ジェームス・カーティス・ヘボン)
James Curtis Hepburn (born March 13, 1815; died June 11, 1911) was a Presbeterian missionary who practiced medicine and developed the hepburn system of romanizing Japanese. He was a medical doctor. He came to Japan during the Edo Period.
In recent years the spelling of his name in Japanese katakana letters are written as 'ヘプバーン' or 'ヘップバーン' instead of 'ヘボン.'
Academy Award winning actress Catherine Hepburn was a member of the same family.
He graduated from Princeton University in 1832 and the University of Pennsilvania in 1836. After graduating, he practiced medicine in the United States.
He came to Japan as a missionary and medical doctor affiliated with the Presbeterian church of North America together with his wife, Clara Mary Leete (1818-1906), who was of the same mind, in 1859. He established a clinic in Kanagawa at Soko-ji Temple (Kanagawa Ward, Yokohama City), and started to paractice medicine there.
He established a coeducational school, the Hepburn school, in Yokohama City in 1863. The Hepburn school subsequently became linked to other Protestant missionary colleges.
In 1867 he edited the first ever "A Japanese and English Dictionary" (Waeigorin Shusei), and published it as Hebon of the United States (美国平文). He used alphabets to transliterate Japanese in English phonetic transcription. As use of the dictionary became widespread, the Hepburn system of Romanization became known.
A missionary colleague who was an instructor in the girls section of the Hepburn school established an independent Western studies school in 1871. The Western studies school later became Ferris University for women.
Along with colleague missionaries, he began translating the Gospel in 1872.
In September of 1874 he established the First Presbeterian Church of Yokohama (present Yokohama Shiloh Church).
A Japanese translation of the Old Testament was completed in 1880.
The third edition of "A Japanese and English Dictionary" (Waeigorin Shusei) was published in 1886. He transliterated Japanese pronunciation using the English alphabet. He later donated the profits to Meiji Gakuin.
Hepburn invested personal funds to establish the Meiji Gakuin (present day Meiji Gakuin Univeristy and Meiji Gakuin High School) in Shirogane, Minato-ku, Tokyo in 1887, and served as the first president.
He completed compiling the Bible Dictionary in 1892. In the fall of that same year he departed from Japan due to his wife's illness.
He established a residence in East Orange, New Jersey in 1893.
He died of natural causes in 1911.
Through his efforts teaching at the Hepburn school and Meiji Gakuin, he educated many Japanese, including Korekiyo TAKAHASHI, Tadasu HAYASHI, and Toson SHIMAZAKI, who played major roles in Meiji eraJapan.