Names in this site follow the Japanese custom of family name first.

May 26, 2012

Dutch Learning - Tekijuku, Osaka (Museums)

It comes as a surprise to find an authentic, 19th century Japanese merchant’s house right in the central Osaka business center, just south of Yodoyabashi Station. The two-storied house sits in a small garden and is dwarfed by neighboring buildings, but it is a miracle that it has survived destruction. It now forms an oasis of rest in the city. The house belonged to Ogata Koan (1810-1863), a doctor and scholar of Rangaku (“Dutch Studies”) who since 1843 opened his school, the Tekijuku (“School of the Right Target”) in this building.

Tekijuku Museum, Osaka
[Tekijuku, Osaka. Photo © Ad Blankestijn]

Ogata Koan was born into a samurai family in Okayama Prefecture and came to Osaka when he was 17 years of age to study Rangaku. “Dutch Studies” refers to the study of Western medicine and science via text books imported by the Dutch, who were the only country from Europe allowed a presence in Japan. Ogata later also studied Rangaku in Edo and Nagasaki. He became known both as an expert educator and medical doctor and translated several medical works from Dutch into Japanese. In his school he taught the students the Dutch language as a tool to get access to Western science and culture. Many young people who would consequently play an important role in Japan’s modernization studied in the Tekijuku - Fukuzawa Yukichi is a good example.

In the two-story house some articles belonging to Ogata Koan are on display, ranging from medical instruments to books and documents. On the second floor, in a special room of its own, you will find the most important tool of the school, the hand-written, eight-volume Doeff Dutch-Japanese Dictionary. Students used to take turns to study it.

On this floor is also the room where the students – mostly of samurai stock – lodged. On the central wooden pillar one sees the cuts made by their swords to relieve themselves of the stress caused by the difficult political situation in which Japan then found itself. Next to the Tekijuku is a small park with a statue of Ogata Koan.
Tel. 06-6231-1970

Hours: 10:00-16:00; CL Mon (except if NH), day after NH (except if Sat or Sun), NY

Access: 5 min on foot from Yodoyabashi or Kitahama St on the Keihan line; 5 min on foot from Yodoyabashi St on the Midosuji subway line.