Kitazato Shibasaburo was born into a wealthy village headman family in present Oguni Town, Kumamoto Prefecture, in1853. During the medical science study at the predecessor of present Tokyo University, he determined to be an expert of preventive medicine, then worked for a national research body after graduation.
Being highly appreciated there, he was promoted to a student sent to Germany by the Government. He studied under Robert Koch to develop the new method of tetanus and diphtheria serum treatment. These diseases had been fatal before his effort. After 6-year studies abroad, he returned to Tokyo only to find Japan's medical world had become a kind of autocracy by elders centering on Tokyo University. Even though he was known as an outstanding bacteriologist of the world, there was no seat for him in the medical world of Japan. His personality, that is, to try to stand up against the tide or power, might have prevented himself from a proper position. When the epidemic of cholera broke out in East Asia in the 1890's, however, he was dispatched to Hong Kong by the Government, and discovered the cholera bacterium for the first time in the world. This discovery finally led to the eradication of this fearsome disease there.
Around that time, there was a man who watched over him fondly from a distance...it's "Fukuzawa Yukichi", a leading educator then. Fukuzawa gave him material and moral support together with other benefactors. Thanks to this great help, his study and education were able to be continued at private medical institutions in Tokyo, such as Keio University and Kitazato Laboratory. He educated "Shiga Kiyoshi" who is the discoverer of dysentery bacilli, and "Noguchi Hideyo", a researcher of yellow fever, at these private medical institutions.
The picture shows a part of the house he was born in Oguni Town. His portrait is scheduled to be on the new 1,000yen bill issued in 2024.
He really is a giant in the medical world.
Licensed tour guide, travel consultant,