You are on page 1of 3

Ginko Ogino was the first woman doctor licensed to practice western medicine

in Japan. She had to overcome enormous prejudice and numerous obstacles in a strongly
patriarchal society, that regarded medicine as a profession only for men.
Ogino lived in Tawarase in northen Saitama. Ginko is the fifth children. Her father
is the village headman in Tawarase. Her mother is Kayo, she was a good wife and a good
mother. When Ginko was 16 her family had arranged her marriage into a wealthy family.
Her husband was the eldest son of the wealthy Inamura farming family in nearby
Kawakami village. However, like most men of his times, her husband too frequented
prostitutes, from which he contracted gonorrhea and subsequently transmitted it to her. It
was considered a shameful disease, and not wanting to continue living with the
humiliation of it at her in-laws house, Ogino returned to her parents home. Thereupon
she decided she wanted a divorce even though divorce at that time was uncommon and
also considered scandalous.
When Ogino went to the hospital at the city for the treatment of her disease she
found the experience of being intimately handled by male doctors humiliating. However,
there were no female doctors at the time and that is when she decided that she would
become one herself. She was convinced that a lot of women like her in Japan who were
suffering with gonorrhea did not go for treatment because they feared the embarrassment
of being treated by male doctors. She decided that she would become a doctor to help
these women.

Uncommon as it was for women to be divorced in Japan in the late 1800s it was
even more unsual for them to study and enter what was regarded as a profession only for
men. Ogino did not receive much support from her family thereafter, but she continued
on the path of her dreams alone. She first graduated from Tokyo Women's Normal School
(present-day Ochanomizu University), and then joined the Juntendo University. She was
the first woman at the all-male University and suffered tremendous harassment and
prejudice. She was also always constrained for money. However after a lot of hardship,
she graduated in 1882. Her hurdle thereafter was that she would not be allowed to sit for
the medical practitioners examination. She refused to give up and after numerous
petitions, was finally allowed to take her medical practitioner's examination in 1885.
Thereupon, the very first year after she became the first registered woman doctor
in Japan, she started the Ogino Hospital in Yushima. There she set up a flourishing
practice for women patients. She worked with obstetrics and gynecology and received
numerous women with sexually transmitted diseases who she helped just as she had
dreamed. She also served as staff doctor to the girls school of Meiji Gakuin University.
Oginos entrance into medicine also broke the glass ceiling, and encouraged many other
women in Japan to also enter the medical field.
In 1890 Ogino got married again, this time to a Protestant clergyman and utopian
visionary, Yukiyoshi Shikata with whom she shared a common vision of a more
progressive society for Japan. She also became active in the Woman's Christian
Temperance Union (WCTU). In 1894 she left her thriving practice in the city and

accompanied her husband to Hokkaid where she assisted him in his Christian mission.
After her husband died, she came back to Tokyo in 1908 tried to resume her practice.
Oginos health had been ravaged by the gonorrhea which she had battled all her life. She
died of atherosclerosis in Tokyo in 1913.