This month’s article focuses on two doctors and educators from Fukuoka who were active in the Edo and Meiji eras. The first, Nanmei Kamei (1743 – 1814), was born in Meinohama (now part of Nishi Ward) as the son of the village doctor. He was studious from a young age, and he went to Edo at the age of 19 to study medicine and Confucianism. He returned to Fukuoka to work as a doctor in what is now Tojinmachi, and many pupils studied under him at his Kamei Juku school.
His work would later earn praise, and he was chosen to serve as the jui (Confucian scholar and doctor) of the Fukuoka Domain. He also served as the first president of the domain’s Kantokan academy. He was the first scholar to present an academic theory on the Gold Seal that was unearthed in Shikanoshima, but this was later discredited. The Kantokan was shut down after it was destroyed by fire, but Nanmei, along with his son Shoyo, reopened the Kamei Juku, which is said to have attracted pupils from all over Japan.
One of the school’s pupils was Osamu Takaba (1831 – 1891). Born as the daughter of an eye doctor for the Fukuoka Domain, Osamu was raised as a boy because the family had no sons. Osamu dressed like a man and was permitted to carry swords like a man. After undergoing schooling at the Kamei Juku, Osamu opened a private academy commonly referred to as the Ninjin-batake Juku (lit., “Carrot Field Academy”) because it was located on the former site of the Fukuoka Domain’s medicinal carrot field near present-day Hakata Station. Like Nanmei, Osamu was both a doctor and an educator.
The graves of Nanmei and Shoyo Kamei are located inside Jomanji Temple in Jigyo. The impressive Sanmon Gate of this temple is said to have been built in the Edo era when the Kameis were still practicing their profession. There is also a stone monument in Tojinmachi marking the site where the Kantokan once stood. Osamu Takaba’s grave lies within the premises of Sofukuji Temple in Chiyo, Hakata Ward, and the inscription on the tombstone was written by Katsu Kaishu, a famous statesman of the late Edo and early Meiji eras. There is also a stone monument near Hakata Station marking the former site of the Ninjin-batake Juku.