Yoshiko Takahashi is a 69-year-old volunteer who greets visitors from as far away as Kansas to an exhibition on the history of Jokichi Takamine (1854-1922), a renowned chemist and industrialist who founded the Nippon Club in New York 100 years ago.

“I have no problem with cold weather in New York, but I really hate humid weather in Japan,” said Takahashi, who retired last year after working for over 20 years at Japanese financial firms in New York.

Takahashi, a Tokyo native, said she enjoys her retirement life here and helps visitors from all over the United States who want to know about Takamine, who is best known for isolating takadiastase, a digestive enzyme, and the chemical adrenalin.

Takamine, a physician’s son, studied chemical engineering at the University of Tokyo and did postgraduate work at Anderson’s College in Glasgow, Scotland. He later joined the former Imperial Department of Agriculture and Commerce as a chemical engineer.

He and American Caroline Hitch, whom he met during his first U.S. trip during the 1874 International Exposition in New Orleans, were married in 1887 and lived in Tokyo before settling in the U.S. in 1890.

“His upbringing as a physician’s son apparently contributed to his success in the United States,” said Nobuko Iinuma, author of the book “Jokichi Takamine and His Wife.” She also said, “He easily blended in with American society.”

The Takamine exhibition from Jan. 20 through April 30 explains how Takamine founded the Nippon Club with two other pioneering businessmen, Ryokichi Arai and Yasukata Murai, in 1905.

It gives visitors a glimpse of an America baffled by Japan’s impending victory in the Russo-Japanese War. “My dear little man, if you are the Yankees of the East, then I want to be called the Jap of the West,” said Life magazine’s April 13, 1905, issue.

Takamine became the first president of the club, where famed bacteriologist Hideyo Noguchi, a fellow at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, was frequently seen playing “shogi” (Japanese chess) until his wife Mary came to pick him up.

The exhibition also features various memorabilia, including a letter to Takamine from the legendary inventor Thomas Edison, and bottles of takadiastase, which helped Takamine become the first president of Sankyo Co., one of Japan’s largest pharmaceutical companies. Also on display is Noguchi’s shogi set.

The exhibition also depicts the life of Takamine as a philanthropist who, as a friend of then Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki, sent cherry trees to Washington and New York in 1912.

Atsushi Nishijo, the 34th president of the Nippon Club, said the club has played a key role as a private-level trailblazer in areas such as business, culture and sports. It now has 1,200 individual members and 300 corporate members.

“While the Japan Society is mainly targeting Americans, the Nippon Club operates mainly for Japanese,” Nishijo, president and chief executive officer of Sumitomo Corp. of America, told Kyodo News. He said his club wants more Americans and American companies to join it, citing a 1999 reciprocal agreement with the Tokyo American Club, as one example of its membership efforts.

Motoatsu Sakurai, president and CEO of Mitsubishi International Corp. and the 22nd president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of New York, agreed. He said both the Nippon Club and the 72-year-old chamber, which share offices at the Nippon Club Tower in Manhattan, owe their longevity to the secretariats, which helped them to weather the 1924 Anti-Japanese Immigration Act, World War II and the burst of the Japanese bubble economy in the early 1990s.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor forced the Nippon Club to close its doors in 1941. The club was dissolved in October 1952 by a New York State proclamation, but it was reinstated one year later.

As the Nippon Club is marking its centennial under the slogan of “Creating Harmony for 100 years,” a young woman on the staff said of her predecessors, “They lived in a world where they were not treated as Japanese either by their peers in Japan or Americans.”

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