On April 19 in the year 1600, the Dutch ship "De Liefde" arrived at Usuki Bay in Oita prefecture, Japan. Since that time, the Netherlands has kept strong relations with Japan even in the isolation period of the Edo era of Japan. In the year 2000, many celebration events have been planned in the fields of economics, culture, science and technology to commemorate 400 years of relations between Japan and the Netherlands. The GRATAMA Workshop 2000 was one such activity, held in Osaka during "the Dutch week" starting from April 19.


A Dutch chemist Dr. Koenraad Wolter Gratama (1831-1888) stayed in Japan for 5 years from 1866 to 1871, during a violent period when the government of Japan changed from the Edo bakufu to the Meiji government in 1868.

In 1869, his idea for the foundation of a chemistry school "Seimi-kyoku" (a "Chemie-school" in Dutch) with a chemistry laboratory was realized in front of Osaka Castle. He taught chemistry and performed chemical experiments using chemical reagents and apparatus that he brought from the Netherlands. The Seimi-kyoku became the commemorative school that first introduced modern chemistry with both lectures and experiments in Japan. In the year 2000 in Osaka, the place of the Seimi-kyoku, a Workshop that crowns the name of Dr. GRATAMA is being held as one of the celebration activities within the commemoration of the 400 years of relations between Japan and the Netherlands, in close cooperation with Osaka University, Osaka National Research Institute, Delft University of Technology, Utrecht University and under the auspices of The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Statue of Dr. K.W. Gratama

A bust/statue of Dr. K.W. Gratama was donated by the committee for creating the Gratama bust, which was organized on an individual basis though closely related to the Committees of the GRATAMA Workshop. It was our great pleasure and honor to have the attendance of His Royal Highness the Prince of Orange, for the Opening ceremony of this Workshop and to conduct the unveiling of the statue. The statue of Gratama was placed close to the monument of "Seimi-kyoku", which was originally located north 200 m from the monument.

Photo by Osaka Science Museum