Katsuragawa Hoshu

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  • Born: 1756
  • Died: 1809
  • Other Names: Kuniakira
  • Japanese: 桂川 甫周 (Katsuragawa Hoshuu)

Katsuragawa Hoshû was a prominent Rangaku scholar of the 18th century who served for a time as court physician to the Tokugawa shogunate and was among the team who in 1774 produced the Kaitai shinsho, the first European book of anatomy to be published in Japanese translation. He was a son of shogunate court physician Katsuragawa Hoken, and elder brother to author Morishima Chûryô (aka Katsuragawa Hosan).[1]

Hoshû studied under Carl Peter Thunberg alongside Nakagawa Jun'an, visiting Thunberg on multiple occasions at the Nagasaki-ya (Dutch residence) in Edo.[2]

He is known for numerous writings, including a preface to Hayashi Shihei's 1785 Sangoku tsûran zusetsu ("Illustrated Outline of Three Countries").[3] In 1794, he was asked by the shogunate to interrogate castaway Daikokuya Kôdayû about his experiences in Russia, after which he submitted a report entitled Hokusa bunryaku to the shogunate.[4]


  1. Miyagi Eishô 宮城栄昌, Ryûkyû shisha no Edo nobori 琉球使者の江戸上り, Tokyo: Daiichi Shobô (1982), 226.
  2. Timon Screech, Obtaining Images, University of Hawaii Presss (2012), 333.
  3. Hayashi Shihei. Sangoku tsûran zusetsu. Edo, 1785. University of Hawaii Hamilton Library Sakamaki-Hawley Collection. HW 552-553.
  4. Mitani Hiroshi, David Noble (trans.), Escape from Impasse, International House of Japan (2006), 27.