Matsuoka Joan (松岡恕庵)

Joan MATSUOKA (1668 - August 27, 1764) was a Japanese Confucian and scholar of herbalism. His name was Gentatsu, common name was Joan, azana (Chinese courtesy name which was, historically, the name formerly given to adult Chinese men, used in place of their given name in formal situations; scholars and the literati of Japan adopted this custom of courtesy name) was Seisho, and aliases were Igansai, Kokankyo, Hanisuzuou and Shinrinchoou. His disciples were Ranzan ONO, Kyokuzan TODA, Sogen HATTORI, Tonan ASAI, Kotosuga TANIGAWA, Totekishi YOKOCHI, and Genshu NAOMI.

He was born in Kyoto in 1668. At the age of 18, he entered a private school called Yoshido run by Shuhaku AZAI to study traditional Chinese medicine, while he also studied Confucianism under Ansai YAMAZAKI and Jinsai ITO at the same time.
He also became a disciple of a herbalist Jakusui Ino to study herbalism, after he found difficulties for understanding the names of animals and plants described in Chinese poetry book, 'Shikyo.'
Since Joan started learning herbalism under Jakusui, he gradually gravitated toward this field of study, and later he himself began to teach herbalism to disciples.

In 1716, Yoshimune TOKUGAWA became the eighth shogun. During Kyoho-no-kaikaku (Kyoho reform), Yoshimune launched medicinal reform. At the time Yoshimune started the reform, the cultural center of Japan including the herbalism study ground was still in Kyoto, which had not been changed yet since the establishment of Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun). Therefore, Edo bakufu invited Joan and other herbalists from Kyoto to Edo Igakukan (Medical School in Edo) in order to acquire experts to develop herbalism in Edo. Joan joined Wayaku Aratamekaisho (an evaluation institute for Japanese traditional medicine) to investigate on the examination methods of collected herb samples for pharmaceutical research. Through the progress of his study in the field of herbalism, Joan contributed for the development of measures against famine and the growth of various industries in Japan. He died in 1764. He died at the age of 79.

Joan's teacher, Jakusui INOU, was a forerunner in the field of Japanese herbalism who transformed Chinese herbalism into the study suitable for Japanese environment; he instructed scholars who would further develop herbalism in the future. However, Joan's study in herbalism could not be contained within the conventional herbalism to focus on pharmacy, and he developed his study toward natural history by actively collecting a wide range of sample animals, plants and minerals for further investigation. Joan's efforts were succeeded among his deciples, ultimately realized as the methodology of herbalism in Japan established by Ranzan ONO, and 'Wayakushu Rokkajo' (Six articles on Japanese medicine) testing methodology and standard established by Shohaku NIWA.