Who Exactly Was Michiyo Tsujimura? Celebrating a Green Tea Expert with a Google Doodle

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Michiyo Tsujimura

Michiyo Tsujimura was a pioneering Japanese scientist who most is known for her studies on green tea and the nutritional advantages of drinking it. Today, September 17, Google is honoring her legacy by devoting its Doodle to her. The pioneering educator and researcher was also the first woman in Japan to get a doctoral degree in agriculture.

According to the digital records of Ochanomizu institution, a women’s institution in the Japanese capital Tokyo where she was a professor, michiyo tsujimura discovered numerous components of green tea, like the vitamin C, which led to a rise in the export of green tea from Japan to North America. This led to an increase in the demand for green tea in North America.

According to the records kept by the United States Library of Congress, at one point in time, exports of green tea were among the most rapidly expanding in the United States. Do you ever wonder why green tea has such a harsh taste? This is because it contains catechins, and it also contains tannins, both of which were found independently by michiyo tsujimura. Tsujimura if alive would be celebrating her 133rd birthday today. She was born on September 17, 1888 in the Saitama prefecture of Honshu, which is the biggest major island of Japan and is where Tokyo is located.

Discovery:

During his early career, the scientist had a position at Jinjo Higher Elementary School as an assistant teacher. According to the digital archives of Ochanomizu University, she subsequently attended the Tokyo Women’s Higher Normal School where she was taught by Kono Yasui. It was during her time there that she acquired a significant interest in scientific study.

Before beginning her career as a researcher, Tsujimura spent the first seven years of her professional life in the prefectures of Kanagawa and Saitama working as a teacher. In the beginning, she worked at Hokkaido Imperial institution as an unpaid assistant in the food nutritional laboratory of the agricultural chemistry department. At the time, the institution did not allow female students to enroll in the agricultural chemistry department. Later, she worked as a researcher at the university.

She continued her work at the Riken research organization, where she discovered the presence of vitamin C in green tea via her collaboration with Seitaro Miura on a study project. Later, in 1929, the pioneering researcher was successful in isolating and extracting catechin for the first time anywhere in the globe. According to the digital archives of Ochanomizu University, the next year she also identified the chemical structure of tannin and isolated it in crystal form.

Her findings were published in a dissertation titled “On the Chemical Components of Green Tea,” which helped her receive a doctorate in agricultural from Tokyo Imperial University in 1932. She was the first woman in the nation to get a doctorate in agriculture. In the year 1949,  michiyo tsujimura held the position of first dean of the Faculty of Home Economics at Ochanomizu University, in addition to his teaching responsibilities there.

The ardent educator kept working in the field of education for a number of years, notably at Jissen Women’s University in Tokyo. After her passing, the organization that was founded in her honor, Katsurakai, erected a memorial stele in the city of Toyohashi, which is the location where she had resided during her latter years.

Tsujimura’s research career had its start in 1920, when she entered Hokkaido Imperial University as a laboratory assistant. This was the year that she made her first discovery. Because the institution would not let female students to enroll during that time period, Tsujimura was forced to do an unpaid internship at the Food Nutritional Laboratory of the university’s Agricultural Chemistry Department. Prior to moving to the Medical Chemical Laboratory at the Medical College of Tokyo Imperial University in 1922, she conducted study on the subject of silkworm feeding while she was working there. 

After the laboratory was devastated by the Great Kant earthquake in September of 1923, she decided to enroll as a research student at RIKEN and made the move in October of that year. She did her study on nutritional chemistry while working in the lab of Umetaro Suzuki, an agricultural scientist who has a doctoral degree.

In 1924,  michiyo tsujimura and her coworker Seitaro Miura found vitamin C in green tea. They wrote about their discovery in a paper titled “On Vitamin C in Green Tea,” which was published in the journal Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry. The discovery of this led to an increase in the quantity of green tea that was sent to North America.

How she got famous?

Tsujimura isolated the flavonoid catechin content from green tea in 1929. In 1930, she developed a method to isolate tannin crystals from green tea. In 1932, she became the first woman in Japan to get a PhD in agriculture after defending her dissertation titled “On the Chemical Components of Green Tea” at Tokyo Imperial University. In 1934, she successfully isolated gallocatechin from green tea, and in 1935, she patented her process for isolating vitamin C crystals from plants. 

After working as a junior researcher at RIKEN in 1942, she was promoted to researcher in 1947, and then to professor at the newly founded Ochanomizu University in 1949. From 1950 forward, she taught at Tokyo Women’s Higher Normal School and served as the first dean of the school’s Faculty of Home Economics. Not many people are familiar with identity of michiyo tsujimura husband as she did not talk about her husband that much. 

Afterlife, passing, and retirement

Tsujimura withdrew from his teaching position at Ochanomizu University in 1955, although he remained on the faculty in a part-time capacity until 1961. From 1955 until her retirement in 1963, she taught at Tokyo’s Jissen Women’s University. For her work on green tea, she received the Japan Prize for Agricultural Science in 1956 and the Order of the Precious Crown, Fourth Class, in 1968. On June 1st, 1969, at the age of 80, she passed away in Toyohashi. On September 16, 2021, Google Doodle honored Tsujimura on the occasion of his 133rd birthday.

Faq

Who is michiyo tsujimura?

Tsujimura isolated the flavonoid catechin from green tea in 1929. In 1930, she developed a method to isolate tannin crystals from green tea.

How did michiyo tsujimura die?

On June 1st, 1969, at the age of 80, she passed away in Toyohashi. On September 16, 2021, Google Doodle honored Tsujimura on the occasion of his 133rd birthday.

Read more: Who Exactly Was Michiyo Tsujimura? Celebrating a Green Tea Expert with a Google Doodle