Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

Introducing the Vaccine to Ōno Domain

The transmission to Ōno domain is a typical example of vaccine sharing between domains in Echizen province. But whereas in Fukui domain the initiative for importing the vaccine came from a town doctor, the lord of Ōno himself actively promoted Dutch Learning and used domain doctors to bring the treatment to his domain. In this case, the interests of domain physicians and their network fell in line with the designs of their domain lord.

The two leaders of Ōno's vaccination program, Tsuchida Ryūwan and Hayashi Unkei, were both domain physicians in direct service of the lord. The lord had sent them to Osaka in 1845 to study with two prestigious scholars of Dutch medicine, Ogata Kōan and Kō Ryōsai. Unlike Fukui's ruler, Ōno's lord Doi Toshitada had a sustained interest in Dutch Learning. Whenever he was in Edo on tours of duty for the shogunate, he occasionally invited prominent scholars such as Sugita Seikei, Koseki San’ei, and Takami Senseki to his mansion for personal lectures. Toshitada also encouraged Dutch Learning among his vassals and personal physicians. Besides, he probably had a strong personal motive for bringing the smallpox vaccine to Ōno. In the spring of 1849, smallpox claimed the life of his infant son and heir, shortly before the vaccine reached Japan’s shores. Though neither Tsuchida Ryūwan nor Hayashi Unkei had studied with Kasahara Ryōsaku, their training in Osaka imbedded them in the same scholarly lineages as Kasahara and Kasahara's teacher Hino Teisai.

News of the vaccine's importation quickly reached Toshitada. In the 10th month of 1849, before the vaccine had even arrived in Fukui, he entrusted Tsuchida Ryūwan with some funds from his private purse to bring the vaccine to Ōno (Yoshida, “Ryūin kiji”). Early in 1850, domain physician Hayashi Unkei as well as town doctor Nakamura Taisuke went to Fukui to formally ask Kasahara Ryōsaku for a transmission. Like all the other physicians who received transmissions from Kasahara, the two men had to sign the vaccinators’ oath. This copy of the oath shows both men’s signatures under the date of 2/14.

While in Fukui, Hayashi Unkei and Nakamura Taisuke vaccinated the “small child of a tobacco dealer” and brought the toddler back to Ōno. After seven days they transferred the lymph to three more children, and from there to another three and so on to build the foundation for a self-sustaining program (Kasahara, Hakushinki, 106).

In the following years, Ōno's vaccinators benefited from their participation in Kasahara's regional network of vaccinators in Echizen province and beyond. But they also maintained their connections to physicians of Dutch Learning in other places. According to Ogata Kōan's records, Ōno's physicians seem to have received a retransmission from Kōan's clinic in Osaka in 1851 (Katō et al. 2013, 87).

Explore vaccinations in Ōno domain through The Territorial Approach to Vaccinations: Ōno Domain or Vaccinating the Nishikata Exclave. Or, use the link below to return to “Vaccine Stories.”

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