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New banknotes are coming! Visit places connected to the people on them: Shibusawa Eiichi, Tsuda Umeko, and Kitasato Shibasaburo

New banknotes featuring new designs are coming out on July 3, 2024. These are the first new banknotes in 20 years since the ones issued in 2004, and will portray industrialist and “the father of modern Japanese economics,” Shibusawa Eiichi, on the 10,000 yen bill, the educator and founder of Tsuda University who studied in America as Japan’s first female foreign exchange student, Tsuda Umeko, on the 5,000 yen bill, and a microbiologist who developed methods to prevent and treat tetanus, Shibasaburo Kitasato, on the 1,000 yen bill. In fact, these three figures have deep connections with Minato-ku, and there are areas and facilities, etc., associated with them everywhere around the ward. For this article, we visited spots connected with these three figures in Minato-ku to commemorate the release of the new banknotes.

Locations connected with Shibusawa Eiichi, portrayed on the new 10,000 yen bill

Born in 1840 in a farmhouse in the village of Chiaraijima, Hanzawa District, Musashi Province (now Fukaya, Saitama Prefecture), Shibusawa Eiichi served Hitotsubashi Yoshinobu, who later became the 15th Tokugawa shogun, and accompanied his younger brother Tokugawa Akitake on a tour of Europe at the age of 27. After returning to Japan, he established the Shoho Kaisho company in Shizuoka, served as a bureaucrat in the Ministry of Finance, and later rose to the post of president of the First National Bank. From his base at the First National Bank, Shibusawa Eiichi devoted his efforts to founding and growing numerous companies. He is said to have been involved with as many as 500 companies during his lifetime. The Tokyo Gas Company, forerunner to the modern Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd., is one of these. A monument commemorating its founding stands near the Tokyo Gas head office at the south exit of JR Hamamatsu Station (1-5-20 Kaigan, Minato-ku, Tokyo).

Impressed by the gas lamps he saw in the streets of Paris on his tour of Europe, Shibusawa Eiichi entered the gas business in 1874, and became the head of the Tokyo Prefecture Gas Bureau in 1876. He served as the chief executive of the privatized Tokyo Gas Company from 1885, and poured his efforts into the gas business until he stepped down as chairman of the board in 1909. The head office building of Tokyo Gas stands behind the commemorative monument.

Shibusawa Eiichi’s residence was located in Mita Tsunamachi. Located in what is now Mita 2-chome in Minato-ku, Mita Tsunamachi was originally filled with the estates of samurai families, and Shibusawa relocated his residence here from Fukagawa in 1909. Mita Tsunamachi refers to the area up Hyugazaka slope from Azabu Juban Station, and it is still known today as one of the leading luxury residential neighborhoods in Tokyo.

Mita Tsunamachi is home to the Tsunamachi Mitsui Club, built in 1913 to entertain the clients of the Mitsui Zaibatsu, and the Australian embassy, etc.

Eiichi Shibusawa's favorite place, the birthplace of Mita Tsunamachi, was used as a national facility until 1991, but it has now been relocated to Novare, the Forest of Innovation in Shiomi, Koto Ward, Tokyo. . The reinforced concrete Mita Chamber Conference Building (Mita 2-1-8, Minato-ku) was built on the site of the former residence, which is shared by central ministries and agencies.

Locations connected with Tsuda Umeko, portrayed on the new 5,000 yen bill

Born in 1864 to agricultural scientist and educator Tsuda Sen and his wife Hatsuko in Minami-Okachimachi, Ushigome, Edo, (now Minamicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo) Tsuda Umeko traveled to America at the age of 6 accompanying the Iwakura Mission at her father’s wish as a female exchange student recruited by the Hokkaido Colonization Office. She studied American culture in the Lanman household living in Georgetown in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, and after returning to Japan 11 years later, she taught female students as a teacher. She visited America again in 1889 at the age of 24, and following her return to Japan, at the age of 35, she founded the Women's Institute for English Studies, forerunner of the present-day Tsuda University. Before traveling to America at the age of 6, Tsuda Umeko lived at the bottom of the Tsunazaka slope in Mita. Mita Tsunazaka (2-4-1 Mita, Minato-ku) is also known as Tsunazaka, and it is located behind Keio University.

Mita Tsunamachi, where Shibusawa Eiichi had his residence, is at the top of this gentle slope. Tsuda Umeko’s father Tsuda Sen researched the cultivation of western vegetables at their home at the foot of the Mita Tsunazaka slope.

The educational spirit of Tsuda Umeko, known as a pioneer of women’s education in Japan, is still carried on today, but its foundations may have been influenced by her father Tsuda Sen, who was also an educator. Tsuda Sen was involved in the founding of numerous educational institutions, including Aoyama Gakuin University foremost among them, and was laid to rest in Aoyama Cemetery (2-32-2 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku).

Opened in 1872, the Aoyama Cemetery grounds boast an area of roughly 26 hectares, large enough to fit 5 Tokyo Domes. The expansive cemetery grounds have plentiful green spaces, so it is also a perfect place for walking or jogging, etc. We also recommend visiting during the cherry blossom season. In fact, the grave of Kitasato Shibasaburo, whose portrait is used for the new 1,000 yen note, is also located in Aoyama Cemetery.

Locations connected with Kitasato Shibasaburo, portrayed on the new 1,000 yen note

Born in 1853 to the village headman of Kitasato in Okuni, Aso District, Higo Province (now Oguni, Aso District, Kumamoto Prefecture), Kitasato Shibasaburo studied under a Dutch army doctor named Mansfeld whom he met at the Kojo Medical School (now the Kumamoto University School of Medicine), and resolved to become a medical scientist. He later moved to Tokyo, entering the Tokyo Medical School (now the Tokyo University Graduate School of Medicine), and joined the Ministry of the Interior’s Hygiene Bureau following his graduation. He studied in Germany for 6 years under Robert Koch, a leading figure in the research of pathogenic microbes, and produced research achievements which includes methods for culturing pure tetanus bacteria and the discovery of tetanus antitoxin. In 1892, he founded the Institute for Study of Infectious Diseases in Shibakoen, Shiba-ku* with the assistance of Fukuzawa Yukichi and others. Currently, a stone monument with the inscription “Birthplace of the Institute for the Study of Infectious Diseases” stands near the Onarimon intersection (1-1 Shibakoen, Minato-ku)

*Now part of Minato-ku. This is the name of a ward which existed from 1878 (Meiji 11) to 1947 (Showa 22).

Kitasato Shibasaburo lived at the Institute for the Study of Infectious Diseases which once occupied this spot, and devoted himself to research. He later engaged in research on bacteriology and the prevention of infectious diseases, leaving behind great achievements including the discovery of the bacteria which causes bubonic plague, and producing many exceptional students.

The Institute for the Study of Infectious Diseases relocated to Atago-cho, Shiba Ward, and after becoming the Ministry of the Interior’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases, it was transferred to the Ministry of Education in 1914. Thereafter, it became the Tokyo Imperial University Institute of Infectious Diseases, and it was reorganized and renamed as the Tokyo University Institute of Medical Science in 1967.

At the present-day Tokyo University Institute of Medical Science, there is a Medical Science Museum (4-6 Shirokanedai, Minato-ku) which preserves and displays various precious historical materials.

Kitasato Shibasaburo stepped down as director of the Institute for the Study of Infectious Diseases in 1914, and established the Kitasato Institute with his own funds. A year later in 1915, the institute building was completed on the current Shirokane campus. In 2024, the Kitasato Institute is celebrating its 110th anniversary. The Kitasato Institute/Kitasato University Platinum Tower on the grounds of the present-day Shirokane campus (5-9-1 Shirokane, Minato-ku) was completed in April 2015, and it is also a landmark for the whole area.

The road from the Kitasato Institute's Shirokane campus toward Ebisu is the Shirokane Kitasato Dori Shopping Street, lined with friendly shops and retro storefronts.

When you visit these spots, you will get a new understanding of the connection between Minato-ku and these three figures. Shibusawa Eiichi, Tsuda Umeko, and Kitasato Shibasaburo left behind exceptional achievements in their respective fields, making great contributions to the development of Japan. With this switch to the new banknotes coming up, why not take a trip to follow in the footsteps of the great minds they portray?

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