Ito Genboku was the physician of the imperial family. When it was found out that he was a rangakusha, studying foreign medicine, he was exiled to Enoshima and paraded through Edo's streets in disgrace. But the terms of sentence were secretly changed to a confinement at the morgue in Edo Jail. Which was thought of as much worse then exile in Enoshima by the imperial family. But Ito Genboku used his confinement to continue his studies of foreign medicine and experiments.
By the time he met Sano he was about seventy years old and had been handling the morgue for ten years. He agreed to help Sano after he had explained his cause.
He let Mura bring the corpse of Noriyoshi and examined him. Thereby he discovered that Noriyoshi had been hit on the back of his head but whether the blow had been before or after death he could not tell. He then suggested a dissection to see if Noriyoshi had drowned. Sano gave his permission for the dissection, and Ito went ahead and performed it. It was then revealed that there was no water in the breathing sacs inside of his body, which proved that Noriyoshi had not been drowned. Sano ran from the room following this, vomiting.
He later had a dream where Ito and Mura were waiting for him by the dissection table, intending to dissect him. When Sano decided to follow through with his investigation regardless of the cost, he decided to go back to see Dr. Ito. He arrived and Dr. Ito was happy to see him, offering him to join him in sitting around his little fireplace. Sano then confides in Dr. Ito his inner conflict, and Dr. Ito advises him that each man must make the decision for himself what matters most to him, and that he thinks that Sano has decided what that already is. He then offers for Sano to stay the night before returning to his case.
After Sano solves the case, he comes to see Ito again in triumph, Ito offers for Sano to join him in his New Year's day ritual, in which he is allowed to see Edo outside the walls of his jail. Sano goes with him, and speaks with Ito again. Ito informs him that the New Year is a time for hope, and that he does not envy Sano his duties.
Sano comes to Ito when he is tasked with discovering the killer involved in the Bundori murders. Ito states that he can help, and has Mura, his assistant, retrieve the body of the latest victim, Kaibara Toju. Ito first examines the wound on the body where the head was cut, stating that the cut was made with a very sharp blade and with skill and precision. Sano is only able to deduce from this that the killer was a skilled swordsman. They then move to the head, where both observe that the trophy head is not named as Kaibara, but as Araki Yojiemon, who had been a vassal of a prior shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu. While still puzzled, Sano asks Ito if he can reveal anything else, and then Ito reveals to Sano another Budori, this one unnamed and being the head of an eta. As such, the murder was not reported. Sano takes a lock of hair from the eta as evidence.
Although he does not make a physical appearance in the book, Dr. Ito sends along with Sano a letter of introduction to one of his former colleagues in Nagasaki, a Dr. Nicholas Hguyens. Sano later shows the letter to Dr. Hguyens, who recognizes the message as being from his old friend.
Personality and traitsEdit
Ito Genboku had a high, bony forehead, shrewd eyes and prominent cheekbones. A deep furrow ran from either side of his long, ascetic nose to the narrow line of his mouth. He had short white hair that receded at the temples but grew abundantly over the rest of his scalp. In jail he still wore the long dark blue coat, the physician’s traditional uniform.
Although he was studying corpses to learn more about anatomy he had not overcome his aversion towards dead and touched them only with covered hands and he let Mura do the dissection of the bodies.
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