Uryu Iwako

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Statue of Uryû Iwako at Sensô-ji in Asakusa, Tokyo
  • Born: 1829/2/15
  • Died: 1897/4/17
  • Japanese: 瓜生岩子 (Uryuu Iwako)

Uryû Iwa, also known as Uryû Iwako, was a prominent pioneer in charitable work in the Meiji period, establishing a midwifery research institute and relief facility for caring for orphans and the poor, and promoting social work and girls' education.

Born in 1829 in what is now Fukushima prefecture, she lost her father when she was only seven. She and her mother then moved in with her mother's family, where, beginning at the age of 14, she was educated by her uncle, a physician in the service of Aizu han.

Following the Meiji Restoration, she worked to promote girls' education, and various forms of social work. She established the Fukushima Relief Facility which provided for orphans and the poor, as well as the Saisei Hospital in Kitakata and a midwifery research institute.

Following her death in 1897, a bronze statue of Uryû was erected in 1901 at Sensô-ji in Tokyo's Asakusa neighborhood. This was the first bronze statue of a woman erected in the country.[1]


  • Plaques at Sensô-ji, Asakusa, Tokyo.
  1. Takashi Fujitani, Splendid Monarchy, University of California Press (1996), 268n36.
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