Astronomer punished for the Siebold Incident




Common name: Sakuzaemon
Byname: Sisho
Pen names: Banbu, Kanso, and Globius


Astronomer (astronomer to the Edo shogunate)

Biographical Sketch

Replaced his father, Yoshitoki, as astronomer to the shogunate in 1804 at the age of 20. His duties included administration of the shogun's library.
He established the Bansho Wage Goyo, which was the department of foreign languages for the examination and translation of western scholarship, at Tenmongata (Astronomy Institute). He began work on the translation of Chomel's Dictionnaire œonomique. He was an adept linguist and made efforts to introduce foreign views, but was jailed for the Siebold Incident. He became ill and died while in prison at the age of 45.
He created the "Shintei Bankoku Chizu" (New Universal Atlas), and under the supervision of Takahashi Kageyasu completed the "Dai-nihon Enkai Yochi Zenzu" (Atlas of Coastal Waterways of Greater Japan) surveyed by Ino Tadataka.

Ex-libris Ownership Stamp

Five types of ex-libris ownership stamps have been found. There is a red stamp "高橋蔵書" (takahashi zosho), a large red stamp "求己堂記" (kyukodo ki) and a stamp done in the Roman alphabet "TAKAHASHI".

Reading and the size of the ex-libris ownership stamp

求己文庫(kyuko bunko): 76x18mm
求己堂記(kyuko doki): 18x17mm

Stamped Material

Stamped Material

His Japanese and Chinese writings that were confiscated are stored at the Shoheizaka academy. His western books were held at the Momijiyama library and sent first to Tenmongata, then to Bansho Shirabesho (Foreign Literature Research Center).

Siebold and the Siebold Incident

Philipp Franz von Siebold (1796 to 1866) came to Japan as a physician for the Dutch contingent on Dejima in Nagasaki. He opened a school at Narutaki located on the outskirts of Nagasaki to teach western medicine to scholars studying the West. In 1826 he traveled to Edo (old Tokyo), where he worked with many Western scholars. During this time he aggressively collected materials through which to study Japan. It was discovered that Takahashi Kageyasu had given Siebold maps of Japan, which were restricted from being taken out of the country. Siebold was thrown out of the country, and many of his associates were punished.


Uehara, Hisashi. Takahashi Kageyasu no Kenkyu, Kodansha, 1977. [GK133-84]

Digital Exhibitions

"Japanese Ex-libris Stamps" is one of digital exhibitions of the National Diet Library.
The NDL Digital Exhibitions features the NDL’s unique collections with explanations covering various themes such as nishiki-e, landscape photographs and historical materials. Discover your favorites!