Kei Okami

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Kei Okami
Anandibai Joshee, Kei Okami, and Tabat M. Islambooly.jpg
Kei Okami (center) with Anandi Gopal Joshi (left) and Sabat Islambooly (right)
Born (1859-08-15)15 August 1859
Aomori Prefecture
Died 2 September 1941(1941-09-02) (aged 82)
Nationality Japanese
Other names Nishida Keiko, Keiko Okami, Kei Nishida Okami
Alma mater Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1889.
Occupation Physician
Known for The first Japanese woman to obtain a degree in Western medicine from a Western university

Keiko Okami (岡見 京子 Okami Keiko?, 15 August 1859 – 2 September 1941[1]) was a Japanese physician. She was the first Japanese woman to obtain a degree in Western medicine from a Western university.

Early life[edit]

Kei Okami was born as Nishida Keiko in Aomori Prefecture in 1858. She graduated from the Yokohama Kyoritsu Girls' School in 1878, and then taught English at the Sakurai Girls' School. She married an art teacher, Okami Senkichiro, at the age of 25. The couple subsequently traveled to the United States.[2] She was offered the choice to convert to Christianity if she wanted to be a doctor, which she accepted. Unlike her classmates Anandibai of India and Sabat of Syria, she converted to Christianity to be able to pursue her studies.[citation needed]

Medical training[edit]

In America, Kei Okami studied at the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, receiving aid from the Women's Foreign Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church. After four years of study, she graduated in 1889, with Susan La Flesche Picotte.[3][4] She thus became the first Japanese woman to obtain a degree in the Western medicine from a Western university.[2]

Medical career[edit]

After returning to Japan, Kei Okami also worked at the Jikei Hospital (now the Jikei University School of Medicine hospital) at the invitation of Takaki Kanehiro. Then, she opened her own clinic, operating out of her home in Akasaka Tameike, Minato.[5]

Later, she closed the practice, and served as the vice-principal of Shoei Girls' school (a predecessor of the Shoei Girls' Junior and Senior High School), which was founded by her brother-in-law Kiyomune. In 1897, she opened a small hospital for sick women in partnership with a friend, Mrs. True. She also established a school of nursing in the same premises. The hospital closed after nine years, as there were very few patients, mostly limited to foreign female preachers. Subsequently, she retired due to breast cancer.[5] A devout Christian, she also participated in missionary work in Japan.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Okami Keiko". Nihon jinmei daijiten+Plus (in Japanese). Kōdansha. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Hamish Ion (2010). American Missionaries, Christian Oyatoi, and Japan, 1859-73. UBC Press. p. 230. ISBN 978-0-7748-5899-1. 
  3. ^ JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. American Medical Association. 1889. p. 455. 
  4. ^ "Dr. Kei Okami". Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania: Photograph Collection. 1850-present. Drexel University. Retrieved 2014-01-26. 
  5. ^ a b "Prominent People of Minato City: Keiko Okami". Minato City Administration. Retrieved 2014-01-26. 
  6. ^ "Women's Foreign Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church". Woman's Work for Woman and Our Mission Field. Women's Foreign Missionary Societies of the Presbyterian Church. IV: 136. 1889.