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Article 4

Upon seeing the research materials at the Rijksherbarium, I recalled my sense of pride. Toward the close of the Edo Period, various botanical specimens from around the country appeared before Siebold's eyes as though he had opened a great treasure box. My emotions were particularly strong when I found the word "kakko-so" (primula kisoana).

I was given a tour of the Special Archive Room by Prof. Kalkman and Ms. Stans Kofman, the manager of the phanerograms collection. Here we found the 14 Japanese bound volumes of botanical specimens presented by Keisuke Ito and the wood samples collection of Tokunai Mogami, known as an explorer of the Ezo region (now Hokkaido). In addition, there were also dried specimen volumes preserved in glass jars - my interest knew no bounds.

One strange specimen caught my eye. On its label I read "Nikojuyo in Nikko". "Nikujuyo" is a parasitic plant used for drugs. According to Prof. Omori's judgment, this label was written by Keisuke. On the label, Keisuke wrote that one can journey from Nikko Yunotaira through the Konsei Mountain Pass to Numata. These points coincide with the places mentioned in his jopurnl. He journeyed from Nikko to Numata, then, after collecting specimens at Mt. Haruna, he passed through Shinshu (now Nagano Prefecture) and returned to Nagoya. From there, he did not delay in going on to Nagasaki to meet Siebold in 1827. This specimens, however, have yet to be examined by a researcher. "Our research is still incomplete," repeated Ms. Kofman. It seems they are hoping to find a researcher who can read Japanese. This "kakko-so" has yet to be studied as well. 

In the archive there is also an approximately 33 X 23.5 cm. fan-folded specimen collection in 4 volumes entitled, Zigzag Book, composed by Kaizo Hirai. The specimens are entered in "iroha" order (old Japanese alphabetical sequence) and total 704 in all. In the second volume of the series, I discovered a page on which the flower shape was described in India ink and inscribed with the word, "sakura-so." In addition, there was a label made of Japanese paper on which the word, "kakko-so" was written in red ink. I tried to calm my pounding heart as I lifted the paper. However, what I found upon turning it over was just a leaf, stem and root specimen of poor quality. I said to myself, "This isn't kakko-so!" The leaf did not bear the characteristic hairs of Kiryu's primula. The word written in red was the editing of another person. Siebold himself had inscribed the number on the pasteboard to which it had been attached.

Kaizo Hirai (1809-1883) was born in Mikawa. Before Siebold was posted to Nagasaki, Hirai traveled there to receive instruction from a physician in Dejima. Hirai made the specimen collection while still in his teens, however, one cannot question his enthusiasm when one sees how he carefully sorted, arranged and catalogued his collection.

Although obviously sections of the Zigzag Book had been cut out, the specimen had been remounted on a different pasteboard and used for research, according to Asst. Prof. Yamaguchi of Kumamoto University. Seeing the specimen was worth the trouble even if only to view the label on which the word, "kakko-so" was written. The reason for this is that the people living in the vicinity of Narukami Mountain at that time did not call the flower "kakko-so," but rather, "sakura-so." The name "kakko-so" first appeared during the Edo Period where it was written in a picture book of garden plants called Chikinsho-furoku by Iheimasatake Ito. Written in 1783, the volume contains a drawing of a plant named "kakko-so." This word, however, was not known in Kiryu until the Showa Period, around the year 1933.


Copyright (C) 2000 by Akiko Minosakii , Barbara Kamiayama
& Orijin Studio Miyamae
Kiryu Gunma 376-0046 Japan