Takamine Jōkichi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Takamine Jōkichi
高峰 譲吉
Jokichi Takamine.jpg
Born(1854-11-03)November 3, 1854
DiedJuly 22, 1922(1922-07-22) (aged 67)
New York, New York, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Tokyo
Known forisolating and purifying adrenaline,
isolating Takadiastase
AwardsJapan Academy Prize (1912)
Scientific career

Takamine Jōkichi (高峰 譲吉, November 3, 1854 – July 22, 1922) was a Japanese chemist.[1][2] He is known for being the first to isolate epinephrine in 1901.

Early life and education[edit]

Takamine was born in Takaoka, Toyama Prefecture, in November 1854.[3] His father was a doctor; his mother a member of a family of sake brewers. He spent his childhood in Kanazawa, capital of present-day Ishikawa Prefecture in central Honshū, and was educated in Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo, graduating from the Tokyo Imperial University in 1879. He did postgraduate work at University of Glasgow and Anderson College in Scotland. He returned to Japan in 1883 and joined the division of chemistry at the newly established Department of Agriculture and Commerce. He learned English as a child from a Dutch family in Nagasaki and so always spoke English with a Dutch accent.[4]

While in the US, Takamine was married to Caroline Field Hitch.[4]



Takamine continued to work for the department of agriculture and commerce until 1887. He then founded the Tokyo Artificial Fertilizer Company, where he later isolated the enzyme takadiastase, an enzyme that catalyzes the breakdown of starch. Takamine developed his diastase from koji, a fungus used in the manufacture of soy sauce and miso. Its Latin name is Aspergillus oryzae, and it is a "designated national fungus" (kokkin) in Japan.[5]

In 1899, Takamine was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Engineering by what is now the University of Tokyo.[5]

United States[edit]

Taka-diastase advertisement in 1905

Takamine went as co-commissioner of the Cotton Exposition to New Orleans in 1884, where he met Lafcadio Hearn and Caroline Hitch, his future wife. He later emigrated to the United States and established his own research laboratory in New York City but licensed the exclusive production rights for Taka-diastase to one of the largest US pharmaceutical companies, Parke-Davis.[6] This turned out to be a shrewd move - he became a millionaire in a relatively short time and by the early 20th century was estimated to be worth $30 million.[5]

In 1901 he isolated and purified the hormone adrenaline (the first effective bronchodilator for asthma) from animal glands, becoming the first to accomplish this for a glandular hormone.[1][7] In 1894, Takamine applied for, and was granted, a patent titled "Process of Making Diastatic Enzyme" (U.S. Patent 525,823)—the first patent on a microbial enzyme in the United States.[4][8]

In 1905 he founded the Nippon Club, which was for many years located at 161 West 93rd Street in Manhattan.[9]

Takamine devoted his life to maintaining goodwill between the U.S. and Japan.[10][11]

Many of the beautiful cherry blossom trees in the West Potomac Park surrounding the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC were donated by the mayor of Tokyo (Yukio Ozaki) and Jokichi Takamine in 1912.[12]

The 1915 photo to the right presents Jōkichi Takamine as the host for a banquet honoring the visiting Japanese diplomat Baron Eiichi Shibusawa. This illustration is linked to Jōkichi Takamine's involvement in the gifting of the cherry blossom trees to Washington, D.C. in 1912, which has evolved into the National Cherry Blossom Festival which is celebrated yearly.[13][14]

In 1904, the Emperor Meiji of Japan honored Takamine with an unusual gift. In the context of the St. Louis World Fair (Louisiana Purchase Exposition), the Japanese government had replicated a historical Japanese structure, the "Pine and Maple Palace" (Shofu-den), modelled after the Kyoto Imperial Coronation Palace of 1,300 years ago. This structure was given to Dr. Takamine in grateful recognition of his efforts to further friendly relations between Japan and the United States.[15] He had the structure transported in sections from Missouri to his summer home in upstate New York, seventy-five miles north of New York City. In 1909, the structure served as a guest house for Prince Kuni Kuniyoshi and Princess Kuni of Japan, who were visiting the area.[16] Although the property was sold in 1922, the reconstructed structure remained in its serene setting. In 2008, it still continues to be one of the undervalued tourist attractions of New York's Sullivan County.[17]

The Takamine home in Kanazawa can still be seen today. It was relocated to near the grounds of Kanazawa Castle in 2001.[18]

On April 18, 1985, the Japan Patent Office selected him as one of Ten Japanese Great Inventors.[19]

The mausoleum of Jokichi Takamine in Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York

Depiction in film[edit]

Two films about the life of Takamine have been made. In the 2010 film Sakura, Sakura [ja] directed by Toru Ichikawa [ja], Takamine was portrayed by Masaya Kato.[20] A sequel titled Takamine, also directed by Ichikawa and starring Hatsunori Hasegawa, was released in 2011.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Yamashima T (2003). "Jokichi Takamine (1854-1922), the samurai chemist, and his work on adrenalin". J Med Biogr. 11 (2): 95–102. doi:10.1177/096777200301100211. PMID 12717538. S2CID 32540165.
  2. ^ Sasges, Gerard (2021-03-01). "Mold's Dominion: Science, Empire, and Capitalism in a Globalizing World". The American Historical Review. 126 (1): 82–108. doi:10.1093/ahr/rhab008. ISSN 0002-8762.
  3. ^ Shurtleff, W.; Aoyagi, A. 2012. "Jokichi Takamine (1854-1922) and Caroline Takamine (1866-1954): Biography and Bibliography." Lafayette, California: Soyinfo Center. 261 p. (601 references; 114 photos and illustrations. Free online).
  4. ^ a b c Joan Bennet for Modern Drug Discovery. December, 2001. The Time Line: Adrenalin and cherry trees
  5. ^ a b c Pulvers, Roger, "Jokichi Takamine: a man with fire in his belly whatever the odds", Japan Times, June 28, 2009, p. 8.
  6. ^ Odagiri, Hiroyuki (1996). Technology and Industrial Development in Japan. Clarendon Press, Oxford. p. 214. ISBN 978-0-19-828802-2.
  7. ^ Bennett M (1999). "One hundred years of adrenaline: the discovery of autoreceptors". Clin Auton Res. 9 (3): 145–59. doi:10.1007/BF02281628. PMID 10454061. S2CID 20999106.
  8. ^ Takamine, Jokiohi (1894). "Process of making diastatic enzyme". Google Patents. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  9. ^ Gray, Christopher. "Streetscapes/161 West 93rd Street; A Building That Recalls the Days After Pearl Harbor," New York Times. September 30, 2001.
  10. ^ Katz, Stan S. (2019). The Art of Peace (expanded ed.). Horizon Productions. pp. 32, 200, 216 note 5, 219 note 13, 364, 365, 370, 384 note 11.
  11. ^ "Introduction to The Art of Peace: the illustrated biography of Prince Iyesato Tokugawa". TheEmperorAndTheSpy.com. 2020.
  12. ^ "Cherry Trees in Washington DC". Archived from the original on 2007-02-27.
  13. ^ Katz, Stan S. (2019). The Art of Peace. California: Horizon Productions. pp. 209, 225–6, 373–4, 379. ISBN 978-0-9903349-6-5.
  14. ^ "1915 Photo: Theodore Roosevelt & William Howard Taft honor Baron Shibusawa Eiichi during his important diplomatic visit to the United States". 2020.
  15. ^ Estrow, Milton. "Japanese Palace; Replica Near Monticello Now Open to Public," New York Times. September 28, 1947.
  16. ^ "Kuni in Japanese House; Host of Prince, Dr. Takamine, Has Japanese Structures of St. Louis Fair," New York Times. September 20, 1909.
  17. ^ Shofu-den history Archived 2008-02-26 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ 旧高峰家 Archived 2008-10-31 at the Wayback Machine. "City Kanazawa Official Web Site." Accessed 15 July 2009. (Japanese)
  19. ^ "Ten Japanese Great Inventors". Japan Patent Office.
  20. ^ "さくら、さくら -サムライ化学者 高峰譲吉の生涯-" [Sakura, Sakura - The life of samurai chemist Jokichi Takamine]. Yahoo Movie Database (in Japanese). Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  21. ^ "TAKAMINE ~アメリカに桜を咲かせた男~" [Takamine - The man who made sakura blossom in America]. Yahoo Movie Database (in Japanese). Retrieved 20 October 2016.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]