This is a bookshelf where authors can speak about their own works selected
for a UTokyo Grant for Academic Publications (UTokyo Jiritsu Award for Early Career Academics).

a drawing of plants


Gakō no Kindai (Scientific Illustrators in Japan’s Modern Age - Drawing for Botany, Zoology and Archaeology)




384 pages, A5 format




February 02, 2024



Published by

University of Tokyo Press

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Gakō no Kindai

Japanese Page

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This book explores the activities of scientific illustrators who worked at the University of Tokyo and the nation’s museums during the Meiji period, and examines how the various illustrations they produced relate to the botanical, zoological, and anthropological studies of that time. In this book, the term Gakō (scientific illustrators) is used to refer to those who engaged in the work of illustrating scientific specimens (plants, animals, archaeological artifacts, etc.) at universities and museums. The term refers to painters and illustrators in a broader sense, and to those who produced illustrations at the University of Tokyo’s School of Science in a narrower sense.
This book is unique in that it focuses on scientific illustrators, who have often been sidelined in academia, and attempts to understand how their various illustrations influenced the academic development in the Meiji period. The author believes that there was a close relationship between the depiction of scientific specimens by scientific illustrators and academic advancement. In the fields of botany, zoology, and archaeology, which examine tangible objects, their illustrations were frequently used to depict scientific specimens. It is not difficult to imagine that the skills of scientific illustrators specializing in drawing were needed to document research results (not only in writing but also through visual illustrations) and to release these results to the public.
This book consists of three parts. Part I, Gakō no itabasho (Places where scientific illustrators were found) provides an overview of scientific illustrators who worked in government offices, museums, and universities in the Meiji period. In particular, Chapter 4, Tokyo daigaku no gakō (Scientific illustrators at the University of Tokyo), examines how scientific specimens were illustrated at the University of Tokyo’s School of Science and how scientific illustrators were employed there during the Meiji period. Part II, Shokubutsu gaku ni okeru zushi (Illustrations in botany), sheds light on how illustrations were produced in the field of botany in the Meiji period. It discusses how illustrations produced by scientific illustrators were used and utilized in Shokubutsugaku zasshi (The botanical magazine) and other botanical publications. Part II features two scientific illustrators, Watanabe Kuwatarō (1860-1905) and Nishino Ikuma (1867-1933), who produced numerous botanical illustrations. Part III, Gakō ga tsukuru gakumon no imeji (The academic image created by scientific illustrators) cites works of Ōno Ungai (1863-1938) and Ota Tōu (1873-1933) to discuss how illustrations produced by academic illustrators, instead of being confined to the world of academia, were utilized as visual materials for disseminating academic results to society at large.
The book shows color and black-and-while academic paper illustrations, botanical illustrations, and pattern collections for which the original pictures were drawn by scientific illustrators. Many of them are specific example of works by scientific illustrators whom the author has encountered in the course of research. The author hopes that those who pick up this book will become familiar with the wide-ranging work of scientific illustrators both through the text and illustrations.

(Written by: KURATA Aiko / May 08, 2024)

Related Info

The 4th UTokyo Jiritsu Award for Early Career Academics  (The University of Tokyo  2023)