Note to the German visitors to www.hirokoskitchen.com – Hiroko’s Kitchen Website

Category: Hiroko's Blog

CertificateFirst of all, thank you for visiting my website. My great grandfather, Toshio Shimbo, who was a physician in the rural town of Takada, NiigataPrefecture, northwest of Tokyo visited Germany in the late 19th century to acquire advanced medical study. He was thirty four years old and was already established himself as an respected and busy ophthalmologist in his rural town. In the late 19th century in that region of Japan there was a serious epidemic of eye disease that resulted in blindness of young and old. During that time the Meiji Emperor, the person most responsible for the modernization of the country and ended the country’s 250 years of isolation, visited Echigo Prefecture (present Niigata Prefecture) and encouraged young doctors to study further to improve the situation. After the Emperor’s visit to the region my great grandfather decided to travel to Germany, which was renowned for its advanced medical science, to study this problem and seek knowledge of the prevention and cure of the disease that was afflicting the populous.

Meiji Government introduced German Medicine as its official model in 1869. This brought numbers of German physicians to Japan. They helped to establish the foundation of Japanese medical teaching. At the same time Japanese medical students, including Toshio, traveled to Germany to study the very advanced medicine. How difficult it was for them to study much advanced medical science in foreign language.

My great grandfather left Yokohama on December 24, 1986. The boat traveled through Hong Kong, Singapore, Colombo, Suez Canal and arrived at Marseille on February 11, 1987. He may did not have time to enjoy bouillabaisse in Marseille. He left the town at night on the day of his arrival for Lyon and Heidelberg by train. He arrived the final destination on February 12. It took 61 days from Yokohama.

Toshio Shimbo became a student of Medicine at Ruprecht-Karls Universitat, Heidelberg, and visited lectures until the end of summer of 1987. Then, he moved up to north to Würzburg where he continued his studies at the university, Julius-Maximilans  Universitat, Würzburg. During his stay he visited Berlin from time to time. My great grandfather returned to Japan in July, 1898. Unfortunately, he died at the age of 41 in 1903, without fulfilling his dream to cure his patients with his newly learned knowledge.

This summer I will travel to Hidelberg, Würzburg and Berlin. I would love to hear any recommendation from you where to eat good German food and where to visit, especially food markets and food related organizations in these three great cities. If you want to organize a Japanese cooking class or lecture on Japanese cuisine, please ask me. It may be possible.

While writing this note I stumbled on line on a very interesting, soon-to-be published book called Doctors of Empire: Medical and Cultural Encounters between Imperial Germany and Meiji Japan. The author is Hoi-eun Kim, an assistant professor at TexasA&MUniversity. The stories in the book seems like Japanese medical students studied at Berlin University. I will definitely read this book before making the trip this summer. Hiroko Shimbo

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