Kawamoto Komin (川本幸民)

Komin KAWAMOTO (1810 to July 18, 1871) was a scholar of Western sciences by the means of the Dutch language at the end of the Edo period and in the period of the Meiji Restoration. His given name was Yutaka and his title was Yuken. The court physician of Sanda Domain, Shuan KAWAMOTO's son.

Ordered by Takakuni KUKI, the lord of the Sanda Domain, he went to Edo to study in 1829, he learned Western sciences from Choshun ADACHI and Shindo TSUBOI, and specialized in physics and chemistry. In 1833, he returned to Sanda City, where he was appointed to a doctor working for the domain like his father. Highly esteemed by Nariakira SHIMAZU, the lord of Satsuma Domain, he was transferred to Satsuma Domain. In 1859, he became the headmaster of a clan school in the Satsuma Domain and a professor of the research institution for Western education operated by the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun). He has written and translated many literature on science, and made a great contribution to the development of science in Japan. He experimentally produced white sugar, matches and daguerreotypes.

Also, in 1853 he tried brewing beer for the first time in Japan, and organized a tasting event at Sogen-ji Temple in Asakusa, Edo.

This episode was mentioned in the Kirin Brewery Company's project which explores the history of 5000 years of beer, and it was used for its advertisements.

In 1868, he returned to Sanda City and founded a private school named Eiran juku. This private school became as successful as branch(es) had to be built, however, when his son, Seijiro was employed as a grand council of state to serve the national government, he accompanied his son and moved back to Tokyo. He died on July 18, 1871. He was 62 years old.

In 1953, his monument of honor was built in front of the main gate of Sanda Elementary School in Sanda City.

List of Works

"Kikai kanran kogi" (1851) is a series of books, which he wrote based on"Kikai kanran" written by Rinso AOCHI which claims to be the first book of physics in Japan, and he made it easier to understand and enhanced the contents. Consists of five volumes.

"Ensei kiki jutsu" (1854) describes a variety of Western scientific instruments.

"Kagaku shinsho" (1860) is a translation of the Dutch version of "Die Schule der Chemie" written by Julius Stoeckhardt, a German scientist. The word "舎密" (seimi) used as a translation of chemistry at that time, and it was replaced by the word used in China "化学" (kagaku) and disseminated.

[Original Japanese]