The history of chemistry in Japan is a chronicle of how the Japanese learned Western chemistry and contributed to its further development. The Meiji Restoration in 1868 is often credited as the starting point of Japan’s introduction to Western science. In fact, Japanese encounters with chemistry started earlier, in the early nineteenth century during the Tokugawa period (1603-1868). Medical doctors took the lead in the reception of chemistry because of their interest in the medicinal properties of chemicals. The development of manufacturing and military industries such as mining and smelting, pottery, brewing, dyeing, photography, and gunpowder manufacturing further stimulated Japanese interest in chemistry. Historical developments of chemistry in Japan thus reflected the process of Japanese modernization and industrialization that eventually led to its prosperity in the twentieth century.