Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, JoAnn Palmeri, Daniel W. E. Green

Asada, Goryu

  • Steven L. Renshaw
Reference work entry

Alternate Name


BornKitsuki, (Oita Prefecture), Japan, 1734

DiedOsaka, Japan, 1799

Goryu Asada played an important role in reforming the Japanese calendar and in inspiring Japanese astronomers to move from traditional Chinese to contemporary Western instrumentation and techniques. He was the fourth son of Keisai Ayabe, who was a Confucian scholar and physician in the Kitsuki domain. At birth, Goryu was given the name Yasuaki. He educated himself in astronomy and medicine and took over his father’s practice in 1767 as official physician appointed to the daimyo, though Yasuaki’s passion was studying astronomy and calendar making. In 1772, when the daimyo refused to release him from duties so that he could pursue his astronomical interests, Yasuaki left illegally from his domain. He fled to Osaka, where he changed his name to Goryu Asada and took up the study of astronomy and calendar science with a passion, while practicing medicine to make ends meet.

Asada gained a high...

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Assistance in Japanese translation by Saori Ihara.

Selected References

  1. Nakayama, Shirgeru (1969). A History of Japanese Astronomy: Chinese Background and Western Impact. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. (The primary source in English for the underlying methods and mathematics of astronomical and calendaric development in Japan. Sections on Asada and his students examine the issues in calendrical science that they attacked; appendices contain full explanations of the mathematical bases of models they developed.)Google Scholar
  2. — (1978). “Japanese Scientific Thought.” In Dictionary of Scientific Biography, edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie, Vol. 15 (Suppl. 1), pp. 728–758. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.Google Scholar
  3. Sugimoto, Masayoshi and David L. Swain (1989). Science and Culture in Traditional Japan. Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle and Co. (A comprehensive and scholarly view of scientific development in Edo Japan. Asada, his students, and their intellectual development are placed within their social/political milieu. Sugimoto and Swain pay special attention to calendar development and reform.)Google Scholar
  4. Watanabe, Toshio (1984). Kinsei Nihon Tenmongaku Shi (A modern history of astronomy in Japan). 2 vols. Tokyo: Koseisha Koseikaku. (A primary scholarly source on the development of astronomy and observational techniques. Attention is given to many areas of astronomical concern as well as calendar study. Though the volumes are written in Japanese, many charts and illustrations not readily found in other sources are accessible for readers who do not understand that language.)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kanda University of International StudiesChibaJapan