Ginko Ogino – a woman in a man’s world

Ginko Ogino (荻野吟子) was a medical pioneer. Born on March 3, 1851, in Saitama prefecture next to Tokyo, she married at sixteen. Contracting gonorrhea from her husband, she divorced him soon after. It was very shameful to contract such a disease at that time. And to compound that problem, it probably wasn’t pleasant to be treated by male doctors. As a result, she decided to become a doctor herself.

When she graduated from Tokyo Women’s Normal School, she took the medical practitioner’s examination. She passed and became Japan’s first female registered doctor in 1885. Specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, Ginko opened a hospital in Yushima. This was at a time when men dominated medicine. She was a true trailblazer for future generations of women.

In 1890 she remarried. This time it was to a protestant clergyman and went with him to Hokkaido in 1894, where she ran another practice. Upon her husband’s death, she returned to Tokyo in 1908 and resumed running her hospital. She died in 1913 and now lies in Zoshigaya Cemetery.

Her grave is nice. There is a statue of her in one corner. It portrays her in the clothes typical of the time. In the middle is her grave, and around that are some more memorials. It is lovely and is always in good condition. If you visit it, there is a good chance fresh flowers will be there.

I have to say, the statue is beautiful. It is filled with detail and looks lifelike. Though, how well does it looks like Ginko? It seems to be a very young version of her.

Zoshigaya is an excellent place for her to be buried. It’s not far from the concrete jungle of Ikebukuro. The cemetery is very “green” and peaceful. Many famous people are there with her. It is a fantastic place to visit and a great place to learn Japanese/Tokyo history. It is one of my favorite places in the city. 

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