本文へジャンプ
Fukuoka City
Change Font Size
SmallStandardLarge
Text to speech
LastUpDate: October 8, 2015
ここから本文

Hakata Culture vol.104


Ekiken Kaibara: Renowned Edo Era Scholar

A Picture of Ekiken Kaibara: Renowned Edo Era Scholar image

Ekiken Kaibara (Ekken Kaibara) was an Edo Era philosopher whom Philipp Franz von Siebold, the German physician and botanist who spent time in Nagasaki, once called “the Aristotle of Japan.” He authored numerous works, including Yōjōkun (The Book of Life-Nourishing Principles), which is still read even today. Kaibara was born and raised in Chikuzen Province (now Fukuoka Prefecture). In addition to being a scholar, he spent many years in the service of the Kuroda Clan. 


When he was young, he loved to read, and he was smart enough to be considered a child prodigy. He did not spend all of his time absorbed in books, however. He was also known to go out into the field to see things for himself. Back then, most scholarly books were written in difficult Chinese characters, but Kaibara wrote in simple Japanese that even commoners could read, which led to his works becoming widely read.


Kaibara’s most famous work, Yōjōkun, was a handbook for healthy living that he wrote when he was 83 years old. In it, he wrote that one needed to be emotionally healthy, not just physically healthy, to lead a long and fulfilling life. When he was younger, Kaibara also studied medicine. Another one of his famous works was Yamato Honzō (Medicinal Herbs of Japan), which listed and classified Japan’s medicinal herbs, animals, minerals and agricultural goods. It was the first book dealing with medicinal plants ever written in Japan.


As for his works associated directly with Fukuoka, Kaibara was ordered by the third lord of the Fukuoka Domain, Mitsuyuki Kuroda, to compile a history of the Kuroda Clan called the Kuroda Kafu. He also walked all over the domain to write a detailed report on the cultures, customs and folklore of Chikuzen (Chikuzen-no-kuni zoku fudoki). The latter of these two could be considered Kaibara’s lifework since he continued to revise it long after he completed it at the age of 73. Kaibara died at the age of 86, which made him quite long-lived for a person of the Edo Era. He is buried alongside his wife at Kinryūji Temple in Imagawa (Chuo Ward).



Hakata Culture also appears in

To FUKUOKA NOW Website

(c)  www.fukuoka-now.com All Right Reserved







江戸時代の大学者・貝原益軒

 長崎に来日したシーボルトが「日本のアリストテレス」と評した人物が、江戸時代に活躍した儒学者の貝原益軒です。現在でも読まれている『養生訓』など多数の著作があり、生涯で60部270余巻の書物を残しています。筑前国(現在の福岡県)に生まれ育ち、学者として活躍しただけでなく、長く黒田藩に仕えた福岡藩士でもありました。

 益軒は幼い頃から大変な読書家で、神童と言われるほど頭が良かったと伝わります。また書物だけで勉強するのではなく、実際に現地を訪ね、自分の目で確かめ、手で触り、あるいは口にすることで確認していました。当時の学問書の多くは難しい漢文で書かれていましたが、益軒の著作は庶民にも分かりやすい平易な和文で書かれていたため、多くの人に読まれるようになったのです。

 代表的な著書である『養生訓』は健康(養生)についての指南書で、益軒が83歳のときに書かれたものです。長寿を全うするためには体だけでなく、精神の養生も大切だと書かれています。また同じく代表作の『大和本草(やまとほんぞう)』は、薬用植物を中心に動物や鉱物、農産物や加工品までを分類・記載した書物で、日本で初めての本格的な本草書だとされています。益軒は若い頃に医学も勉強していました。

 福岡に関連のある書物としては3代藩主・光之に命じられて黒田家の歴史をまとめた『黒田家譜』や、藩内をくまなく歩き回ってまとめた『筑前国続風土記』があります。とりわけ後者は益軒のライフワークでもあり、73歳で完成した後もたびたび改訂を加えています。江戸時代の人物としてはかなりの長生きだった益軒は86歳で亡くなり、夫人とともに福岡市中央区今川の金龍寺に葬られています。