Kaibara Ekiken

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  • Born: 1630/11/14
  • Died: 1714/8/27
  • Japanese: 貝原益軒 (Kaibara Ekiken)

Kaibara Ekiken was an Edo period writer, Confucian scholar, educator, herbalist and physician, attributed with revitalizing or reinventing the genre of travel writing.[1]

He was the fifth son of Kaibara Kansai, a samurai in the service of Kuroda Mitsuyuki, lord of Fukuoka han. Ekiken traveled to Kyoto to study, and returned to Fukuoka in 1664.

In 1709, he compiled Yamato Honzô, a sixteen-volume text listing and describing Japanese medical herbs and other plants.[2]

Ekiken was originally a student of Wang Yangming's brand of neo-Confucianism, but turned to following the teachings of Zhu Xi years later; late in his life, he had questions and doubts about Zhu Xi's teachings, and compiled these into a text titled Taigiroku (大疑録, lit. "Great Doubts Record"). He is often also credited with writing the Onna daigaku (女大学, "Greater Learning for Women"), a volume on morals and proper behavior for women.[3]


  • "Kaibara Ekiken." Digital-ban Nihon jinmei daijiten デジタル版 日本人名大辞典. Kodansha, 2009.
  1. Yonemoto, Marcia. Mapping Early Modern Japan. University of California Press, 2003. p69.
  2. Plutschow, Herbert. A Reader in Edo Period Travel. Kent: Global Oriental, 2006. p12.
  3. Albert M. Craig, The Heritage of Japanese Civilization, Second Edition, Prentice Hall (2011), 74-75.