Article of May 25, 1926
The Japan Advertiser

Bernard Jean Bettelheim
Medical Missionary on Okinawa
May 1846 to July 1854


A few of those who gathered for the ceremony of unveiling the monument to Bettleheim at Gokokuji in the Loochoo Islands on May 18. Some of those in the picture were resident in the village when the medical misssionary worked there before Commodore Perry came to Japan.

Memorial Stone to Bettelheim
Unveiled at Gokokuji, Loo Choo

Standing on a rocky elevation looking over the sea toward China, a group of foreigners and Japanese on May 18 unveiled a monument in Gokokuji, Loo Choo Islands, to Dr. Bernard John Bettelheim, pioneer missionary, who lived and worked there from 1846 to 1854.

The memorial contains 10 stones, sent by various countries in which the missionary-physician labored during his eventful life, and is topped by a great block from his descendants, which bears the Seal of David, for Bettelheim sprang from Hungarian Jewish stock. The other stones bear inscriptions written in languages of the countries which sent them.

The dedication took place immediately following the arrival of the party of 11 from Tokyo, including Professor Jugo Shiga of Waseda University, Bishop Jugi Nakada of Tokyo, Miss Alice Finley and Miss Futagawa of Tokyo and the Rev. and Mrs. John Ter Borg of the Dutch Reformed Mission. All arrangements had been completed before the arrival of the party by Mr. Earl R. Bull, chairman of the Bettelheim Memorial Movement.

In Old Temple

At 2 o'clock in the afternoon of May 18 the party ascended to the original temple of Nami-no-ue, in which Bettelheim lived. The old walls are still standing, and one portion which bears traces of paint is evidently the handiwork of the ship carpenter from the fleet of Commodore Perry, for whom Bettelheim acted as interpretor in his dealings with the Japanese.

In the room which Bettelheim's diary describes as the first foreign hospital in Japan, the "English Free Hospital," a prayer meeting was held in which Loo Chooan Christians participated. The unveiling of the monument followed, with Mr. Chibana, former Mayor of Shuri, pulling away the veil. Among other notables present were Governor Kamii of the province, Mayor Kishimoto of Naha, Dr. Inouye, president of the Provincial Association of Doctors, and officials of all classes. The above-mentioned officials spoke and were followed by Professor Shiga.

Ground Donated

The memorial itself, which stands on ground donated by the authorities of Gokokuji, is 14 feet high and bears inscriptions to Bettelheim and verse from his Loo Choan translation of the Gospel of St. John. "First a resident of Rin Kae Ji" says the inscription, "later of Gokokuji for eight to nine years; translator of the Bible, interpretor to Perry, early teacher of Jenner's methods of vaccination and pioneer in Western civilization." The monument stands within the compounds of a Buddhist temple.

At the conclusion of the ceremonies the Provincial Association of Doctors plated a tree by the memorial. This was followed by an address by Professor Shiga telling of the interest in the work of the early pioneer on the part of Prince Kan-in, Count Mitsu, Marquis Komura, Viscount Shibusawa, Marquis Okuma and Baron Sakatani, who have subscribed ¥335 toward memorial trees, the erection of the monument and the publishing of a small sketch of Bettelheim's life, to be distributed without charge. The people of Loo Choo have also contributed. Considerable money is still needed to pay the bills and Mr. Bull has sent an appeal to the people of the Main Island to make further contributions toward the fund.

A Banquet in Evening

A banquet was held in the evening which 76 persons, including Baron Ie, of the Loo Choo royal family, the Governor and many women attended.

This was followed by an evening meeting in City Hall. It was addressed by Dr. Kuniyoshi, on "Bettelheim as a Doctor"; Mr. Majikina, the local historian on "The Times in Which Bettelheim Lived," and by Professor Shiga on "The Life Work of Bettelheim." Prayer opened the meeting, which also featured the singing of a quartet composed of Mr. Ter Borg, Miss Finlay, Miss Ito and Mr. Bull. Mrs. Ter Borg was at the organ.

The meetings are continuing until May 25 in Gokokuji. The union services on Sunday were in the hands of the Rev. Saijo of Fukuoka. Following today's services, he will go to Yomitanza and Yonabaru for additional meetings. Bishop Juji Nakada began a series of tent services, with four assistants, on May 20.


End of Article

The Bettelheim monument was destroyed in 1945 in the battle of Okinawa. It was restored in 1954 in honor of the the 100th year anniversay of his arrival on Okinawa. The monument can be see today, just inside the gate to the temple.

To return to the main Bettelheim page, click here.

We Are Buying the 1856-7 Perry Expedition Books and Lithographs.
If you have material to sell, please visit this page:

George C. Baxley
PO Box 807
Alamogordo, NM 88311


Perry Expedition to Japan Books & Lithographs