Japanese scholar returns to Turkey every year

By Tolga Albay

IZMIR (AA) – Kaori Goto, a Japanese academic, first came to Turkey in 2011 only to visit the birthplace of Galen, an ancient Greek physician. But every summer she finds herself back in the country.

The 55-year-old likes to walk the narrow streets of the historic Arasta Bazaar in Bergama, a district in the western province of Izmir. The bazaar is a UNESCO heritage site.

Every day she tries to work on her Turkish and learn local customs.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Goto said she considers herself a citizen of Pergamon, an ancient Greek city.

Galen was born in 130 A.D. in Pergamon, which rose to prominence in the Hellenistic age (323–30 B.C.). His most important discovery was that arteries carry blood, and his theories dominated medical science for at least 1,500 years.

Goto said she felt like Galen had called her to stay at his birth city.

"A door in a beautiful garden opened for me in my dream. My mentors called me in, they embraced me. I then came here in 2011 and I felt like Galen invited me here," she said.

Goto said she transfers her experiences about the city to her students in Gunma University in Tokyo.

She is currently researching on the physician and plans to establish a library holding his letters and a laboratory to test his theories.

"I have read many theories in Galen books. The herbal medicines still work in Pergamon. I do believe Galen is worthy of great value. I came here every year on my two-month vacation, do my research, and explain all the matters to my students back home.

"Some of my friends came and see Turkey because of the stories I tell them. They loved it here, they loved everything. This place is not only rich with historical wealth but the Pergamon people are great too.

"More Japanese guests should come here. The Japanese will love this place, the historical values are very attractive for them, not only the Acropolis but also the inside of the city… "

Goto promotes Izmir at various event across Japan.

She plans to settle in Bergama permanently when she retires.