Sugita Genpaku

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Sugita Genpaku (painted by Ishikawa Tairō)

Sugita Genpaku (杉田 玄白, 20 October 1733 – 1 June 1817) was a Japanese scholar known for his translation of Kaitai Shinsho (New Book of Anatomy).

Besides Kaitai Shinsho, he also authored Rangaku Kotohajime (Beginning of Dutch Studies).

Sugita assembled a team of Japanese translators and doctors to translate a Dutch book of anatomy: Kulmus' "Ontleedkundige Tafelen", he did so because he found out, after observing the dissection of a human corpse, that the western drawings of human organs were much more accurate than the ones in his Chinese handbooks.[1] They tried to make a Japanese translation. At a rate of one page a week/month, the work was published in 1774; as an example of how difficult this work was, the collaborators had to study and discuss for several days before they realised that "neus" (nose) in Dutch, being a bulb on the front, meant hana (鼻) in Japanese.


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  1. ^ Josephson, Jason Ā. (2012). The Invention of Religion in Japan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 118–9.