Ema Ransai (江馬蘭斎)

Ransai EMA (1747 to August 27, 1838) was a scholar and a doctor who studied Western sciences and medicine by means of the Dutch language in Japan. His given name was Shuntaku (春琢), courtesy name Motoyasu (元恭), and common name Shunrei (春齢). Shosai EMA and Saiko EMA were his children, and Katsudo EMA was his grandchild. His disciples included Yokusai IINUMA, Keisuke ITO (Doctor of Science), Hobun MIZUTANI, Boyo YAMAMOTO, Tou KOMORI, Fuzan FUJIBAYASHI and Shindo TSUBOI.

Born in September 1747 as a son of Shozo WASHIMI in Ogaki Domain, he became an adopted child of Motosumi (元澄) EMA, a doctor working for Ogaki Domain. When he began to have much confidence in medicine after mastering Chinese medicine, Ransai was very shocked to read "Kaitai shinsho" (New Book of Anatomy) written by Genpaku SUGITA and Ryotaku MAENO, and decided to learn Western studies. In 1792, he went to Edo, making up his mind to apprentice himself to Genpaku SUGITA and Ryotaku MAENO. It was a challenge at the age of 46.

Three years later when he was confident that he mastered Western studies as deeply as his teachers, Ransai went back to Ogaki, where he founded a private school named Korando. Those days, however, such a strong prejudice still remained against Western learning that people did not come to school due to feelings of resistance, which drove him to live in poverty.

It was three years later in 1798 when High Priest Monnyo, the chief priest of Nishi Hongan-ji Temple in Kyoto, was struck down by a serious illness that such a situation changed. When there was nothing left that could be done in Chinese medicine, Ransai was called to provide aid from Western medicine, and the drug he prescribed soon worked well enough to save the life of High Priest Monnyo. As soon as this miracle became widely known to the world, so many patients and people who wanted to be his disciples rushed to him. For the crowds, even inns were built there. Since then more than 300 disciples had graduated from this private school, and Ransai was called the founder of the Western studies in Mino. He died on August 27, 1838. He was 92 years old.

In addition to medicine, Ransai had a talent for literature, and interacted with a lot of men of culture. Ransai's disciples made brilliant careers as prominent figures supporting Western studies in Edo, Kyoto and Osaka, and as a key person who scattered intellectual seeds of Western learning throughout Japan, he is called the three masters in Western medicine in Gifu together with his disciples, Shindo TSUBOI and Tou KOMORI.

Using stored rainwater for the ink slab, Ransai lived in such frugality that he said that real frugality resulted from these small efforts when he asked why he did such a thing in Ogaki rich in water. However, knowing that his teacher Ryotaku MAENO was in need, Ransai sold his favorite books to send some money to him, which shows frugality was not his top priority.

His Representative Books
"Goeki shinpo" (which literally means the diagnostic approach by using the five elements, is the first book on diagnoses in Western medicine)
"Enami iji monto" (Enami medical questions and answers)
"Koran-sai manpitsu" (Essay by Koran-sai)
"Suishu zensho" (Complete book on dropsies)