OGATA Koan was respected as a doctor of
Western medicine and as a
leading figure in the introduction of Western culture in the late Edo
Period. He translated many Dutch books introducing the latest medical
knowledge and also wrote many of his own books. Among his books, the
translation and publication of Fushikeiken-ikun
Hufeland’s Medical Advice) (in 30 volumes) was the
culmination of his lifework.
This was a translation of the volumes on internal medicine written by
the German doctor Hufeland that had been translated into Dutch. These
translated volumes contributed greatly
to the growth of internal
medicine of Japan. Especially the Summary of Commandments for Health
Professionals in the final volume, translated and organized into 12
commandments, is famous as a summary of Hufeland’s thinking.
The first commandment says, “The essence of the medical
profession is to live life not for oneself but for others.”
This was of primary importance for the education at Tekijuku
and the book is highly regarded as a medical ethics text even today.
Pathology, which in those days dealt with matters that now seem as
common sense, was just emerging as a science in Western countries and,
thus, it was difficult for people in Japan to understand. In order to
introduce and explain pathology, Koan wrote Byogaku-tsuron
[Introduction to Pathology]. This book was widely read by many Japanese
and is known as a great text of those days.