Hashimoto Sokichi (橋本宗吉)
Sokichi HASHIMOTO (1763 - June 14, 1836) was a Ranpoi (a person who studied Western medicine by means of the Dutch language) and Rangakusha (a person who studied Western sciences by means of the Dutch language). His real name was originally Naomasa and then changed to Kuni (or Tei). His common name was Michitoshi (or Hakubin). He called himself Donsai. His disciples included Tenyu NAKA, Soteki FUSEYA, Bunken KAGAMI, Hosaku SAITO, Shosai OYA, Kenzo FUJITA, Gengo NAKAGAWA, and Ryohei NAKAGAWA. He had contact with Motoyasu ODAKA.
Brief Personal History
He was born in Awa Province (according to another opinion, he was born in Osaka). He was working as an umbrella maker in Osaka when a Ranpoi of Kyoto, Genshun KOISHI and an astronomer Shigetomi HAZAMA recognized his talent, and he went to Edo to study at the age of 27 with their introductions and financial supports. He stayed in Edo just for a short time, during which he studied at Shiran-do, the private school of Gentaku OTSUKI. It is said that he leaned about 40,000 Dutch vocabularies in only four months and came to be known as the Gentaku's Big Four (the Shiran-do Big Four).
After returning to Osaka, he translated Dutch books for Koishi and others, and opened his private school and clinic, Shikan-do, where he both taught and practiced as a physician. He also conducted a research on erekiteru (friction generator). In 1827, when one of his students, Kenzo FUJITA was arrested for being involved in the Osaka Christian Incident aroused by Heihachiro OSHIO, Sokichi also underwent severe investigation, which led to the closure of Shikan-do. Later He was released as his innocence had been proven, however he had to temporarily live in seclusion in Takehara, Hiroshima Prefecture, as the Siebold Incident triggered a severe criticism against Rangakusha. He later returned to Osaka and opened the school again. While he was devoting himself to the solution of the Tempo Famine in 1832, he contracted a disease. Although he once showed signs of recovery, he died on June 14, 1836, following the sudden death of his best disciple, Tenyu NAKA, on March 26, 1835, who had been taking care of him. He died at the age of 74.
His translation works included "Karan Shinyaku Chikyu Zenzu" (New Translation from Dutch, World Map), "Ranka Naigai Sanpo Hoten" (Textbook of Dutch Internal Medicine and Surgery), "Oranda Erekiteru Kyurigen" (Principles of Electricity Developed in Holland), and "Seiyo Iji Shusei Hokan" (Treasure Chest of Collection of Western Medical Facts).
He had contact with Genpaku SUGITA and others of Edo, who published a translation of a book of Western medicine "Kaitai Shinsho" (New Book of Anatomy). Together with Genshun KOISHI, he is considered a founder of Western studies in the Osaka area and a bridge between West and East for Japan's Western studies movement.