Vol. 5 No. 1 (2021)
Historical Articles

Udagawa Youan (1798-1846), Pioneer of Chemistry Studies in Japan from Western Sources and his Successors

Yona Siderer
Edelstein Center for the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Published 2021-03-01


  • Japan,
  • Western Authors,
  • Udagawa Youan,
  • Seimi Kaiso – Introduction to Chemistry,
  • Dutch Studies in Japan

How to Cite

Siderer, Y. . (2021). Udagawa Youan (1798-1846), Pioneer of Chemistry Studies in Japan from Western Sources and his Successors. Substantia, 5(1). https://doi.org/10.36253/Substantia-963


This work presents chemistry studies of the Japanese scholar Udagawa Youan (1798-1846), specifically, his pioneering book Seimi Kaiso, introduction to Chemistry, and includes a short biography of Youan. The first aim of this work is to present Youan's contribution to Western chemistry in Japan. Youan studied many Western books and listed their authors. The new terms he invented for chemistry in Japanese influenced the development of chemistry writing and application in Japan. The seven books of Seimi Kaiso that were published during 1837-1847 and republished with annotation in Japanese in 1975 are discussed in this article.

The impact of Youan' terminology on the history chemistry writing in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is discussed.  The conditions of knowledge transfer among Japanese and Western scholars were very different. Youan had severe difficulties facing the strict attitude of the Tokugawa authorities toward studying and distributing knowledge coming from foreign countries.  The later development of Japanese chemistry language and studies is also described.


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