Dutch scholar (a person who studied Western sciences by means of the Dutch language) (蘭学者)

A Dutch scholar (Rangakusha) was a person who pursued and researched Western sciences by means of the Dutch language. It is often referred to a person who opened a cram school in Edo period and educated Western sciences. In the field of medicine, a doctor who practiced Western science was said to be a Ranpoi (a person who studied Western medicine by means of Dutch language), in contrast to herb doctor. Though a Ranpoi was often a Dutch scholar, a Ranpoi who studied only the medicine of Netherlands was not included in Dutch scholars. Moreover, a Nagasaki interpreter who was academically contributing to Western Sciences can be said to be a Dutch scholar.


During Edo period, exchanges with foreign countries were prohibited by the ordinance of national isolation and only the Netherlands was permitted to do trade in Dejima of Nagasaki. However, people were generally prohibited from exchanging cultures with the Dutch and import of books was limited.

Dutch doctors also came to Dejima. Medical technologies spread through interpreters and Ranpoi came about. In "Rangaku Kotohajime" (The Beginning of Dutch Studies), styles of Ranpoi such as the West style, the Kurisaki style, the Yoshida style, the Narabayashi style, the Katsuragawa style, the Caspar style, and the Akio style, etc. were seen. However, this was only a mimic of doctor's medical practices by the Dutch and the academic base was weak. Surgical medical treatments that used the plaster etc. were the mainstream.

In order to introduce the techniques, the eighth generation General Yoshimune TOKUGAWA, canceled the ban of import of books from the Netherlands. Moreover, Yoshimune ordered the Sinology scholar Konyo AOKI, Genjo NORO and others to study Dutch language. Genjo NORO, with the cooperation of Dutch interpreters in Nagasaki in Edo Sanpu, made abridged translations "Oranda Kinju Chugyozu Wage" (Dutch Zoology Explained in Japanese) from Jonstons'animal record and "Oranda Honzo Wage" (Dutch Botany Explained in Japanese) from Dodonaevs' herbal works. Konyo AOKI carried a language study research on the Dutch language, and wrote books such as "Japanese Dutch Translation", "Later Collection of Japanese Dutch Translation", "Japanese Dutch Article Translation", and "Brief Introduction to Japanese Dutch Words", etc. However, the Dutch language research of Noro and Aoki did not lead to a general popularity.

With the translation of "Kaitai Shinsho" (New Book of Anatomy), followed by the apprentice's education in Genpaku SUGITA's Tenshinro Building, and in addition, Gentaku OTSUKI's publication of "Rangaku Kaitei" (an introductory book of the Western science study by Masatsuna KUTSUKI), the apprentice's education in Shiran-do, the western sciences came to have a general popularity. Afterward, Sanpaku INAMURA published the Dutch dictionary "Haruma Wage" and the language study research advanced.

On the other hand, there were Dutch scholars appearing one after another from Dutch interpreters in Nagasaki
The research of grammar had advanced from the system of Tadao SHITSUKI and Sajuro BABA.

[Original Japanese]