Yoneyama Kengyo

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  • Birth: 1702
  • Death: 1772/12/9
  • Japanese: 米山検校 (Yoneyama Kengyou)

Yoneyama Kengyô was an Edo-based blind moneylender, and the great-grandfather of Katsu Kaishû.

Kengyô grew up in a village in Echigo province, and was blind either from birth, or since childhood; as a young man, he traveled to Edo to seek his fortune. He found success as both a moneylender (a profession commonly performed by the blind), and acupuncturist, and eventually worked his way up to the top rank in the blindmen's guild. He also established a school for the blind, and during the Hôreki famine, returned to his hometown and contributed to relief efforts.

Kengyô managed to have his third son, Heizô, adopted into the Otani samurai family, as the family head's heir, and earned some degree of prestige or status as a result.

He took the name Yoneyama Kengyô in his old age, and is said to have destroyed the evidence of outstanding loans, and left to his nine children 300,000 gold pieces and seventeen plots of land in Edo.


  • Craig, Teruko (trans.). Musui's Story: The Autobiography of a Tokugawa Samurai. University of Arizona Press, 1988. p169.
  • "Yoneyama Kengyô." Nihon jinmei daijiten 日本人名大辞典. Kodansha, 2009.