Theobald A. Palm, of the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society, came to Niigata on April 15, 1875, after studying the Japanese language in Tokyo. Born in Colombo, Ceylon, he was educated at Edinburgh Medical School and arrived in Japan with his wife soon after his graduation and marriage in 1874. Palm consulted with Dr. J. C. Hepburn, a Presbyterian medical missionary, and decided to go to “the most difficult place” that had no missionaries out of the five ports open to foreign vessels at that time. But three months before his arrival in Niigata, he lost his wife and baby immediately after the baby’s delivery in Tokyo.
Palm was accompanied by a husband-and-wife team, Mizutani Sogoro and Tetsuko, who served as his cooks, and his Japanese language teacher, Suyama Toru, all of whom came from Tokyo. He was also supported by his translator, Amenomori Nobunari, from Yokohama. The combination hospital and home was in Minatomachi in Niigata, but a year later it was expanded and moved to Honcho.
At Palm Hospital, before medical examinations and treatments began at 10 a.m., a morning message was given every morning at 9 a.m. for the patients who had come, and every evening an evangelistic meeting was held as well. Amenomori preached the morning message, after which Palm treated the patients, and then in the evening Palm preached while Amenomori translated. When Amenomori left Niigata a year later, Palm made an appeal to Samuel R. Brown, missionary of the Dutch Reformed Church of America, who then sent Oshikawa Masayoshi from Yokohama as a co-worker, and Palm Hospital began not only to serve as a medical clinic and evangelistic station but also to become a training school for evangelists, where Palm taught Bible and Oshikawa theology.
By 1877, patients began to come from considerable distances. Also, local doctors with only a background in older Western medicine in Nakajo, Murakami, Shibata, and Nagaoka requested Palm to teach them the latest in modern medicine. Thus, he began outreach medical missions to outlying areas. He went out by boat, rickshaw, and even on foot to give medical treatments during the daytime and then held evangelistic meetings in the evening. Palm visited Sado Island once and Kameda, Suibara, Kuzuzuka, Nakajo, Shibata, Nuttari, and Nagaoka regularly. About that time Yoshida Kametaro, who was in Nakajo working on an oil-digging project, listened to Oshikawa’s sermons and was converted to the Christian faith. Later, he became an evangelist himself, working together with Oshikawa.
Palm wrote in his missionary reports that “Niigata Church” was formed with 28 members in 1878. Both Palm and Oshikawa were ecumenical at heart, so the church was not directly aligned with a specific denomination. The following year, a branch meeting was established in Nakajo with other branches following later. In that same year, Palm was remarried to a woman named Isabelle, the daughter of a missionary in Hakodate.
A big fire broke out in Niigata in 1880, and Palm Hospital was burned down. As a result, it was decided that Oshikawa, together with Yoshida and with the support of the Scottish church in Rotterdam, where Palm’s father was located, would evangelize the Tohoku District, with the vision of making it the “Scotland of Japan.” They established churches there and founded two schools, Tohoku Gakuin and Miyagi Gakuin, in Sendai. Palm Hospital was rebuilt in Nishiohata in 1881, and F. J. Shaw arrived in Niigata as a nurse the next year. She had been trained at St. Thomas Hospital and introduced the spirit and techniques of nursing that she had learned from Florence Nightingale.
Palm returned to England in 1883 for furlough and due to his wife’s health, handing the hospital over to Dr. Owada Kiyoharu and his son Kotaro. He also left his medical mission in the hands of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Due to theological differences about how to understand eschatology, however, he was not sent back to Japan and ended up staying in England as a local village doctor. The American Board changed its emphasis from medical missions to educational missions in order to support Niigata Women’s School and Hokuetsu Gakkan, the spiritual predecessors of Keiwa High School and Keiwa College. Due to this change in policy, Niigata Church, which Palm had founded, separated into Higashinakadori Church and Niigata Church.
During his eight-and-a-half years in Niigata, from 1875 to 1883, Palm treated more than 40,000 patients, performed 150 to 160 serious operations, and developed an excellent reputation for his ophthalmological treatments. Palm also baptized 104 people and formed the backbone of the Protestant churches in Niigata Prefecture and of our school. The gymnasium of Keiwa College is named after him, commemorating his medical missionary work.
—Yamada Kota, vice-president
Keiwa College, Niigata
T. A.パーム：新潟の 医療宣教師
1875年4月15日 に、エディンバラ医療宣教会のセオバルド. A.パームが、東京で日本語を学んだ後に新潟に着任した。
パームは1878年 に28人 の信者によって新潟で教会が組織されたことを報告している。（
パームは1875年 から1883年 の8年 半の間に、新潟県の下越地方と中越地方で、延べ4万人の人々に医