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Confluences of Medicine in Medieval Japan

Confluences of Medicine in Medieval Japan: Buddhist Healing, Chinese Knowledge, Islamic Formulas, and Wounds of War

Andrew Edmund Goble
Copyright Date: 2011
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  • Book Info
    Confluences of Medicine in Medieval Japan
    Book Description:

    Confluences of Medicineis the first book-length exploration in English of issues of medicine and society in premodern Japan. This multifaceted study weaves a rich tapestry of Buddhist healing practices, Chinese medical knowledge, Asian pharmaceuticals, and Islamic formulas as it elucidates their appropriation and integration into medieval Japanese medicine. It expands the parameters of the study of medicine in East Asia, which to date has focused on the subject in individual countries, and introduces the dynamics of interaction and exchange that coursed through the East Asian macro-culture.

    The book explores these themes primarily through the two extant works of the Buddhist priest and clinical physician Kajiwara Shozen (1265-1337), who was active at the medical facility housed at Gokurakuji temple in Kamakura, the capital of Japan's first warrior government. With access to large numbers of printed Song medical texts and a wide range of materia medica from as far away as the Middle East, Shozen was a beneficiary of the efflorescence of trade and exchange across the East China Sea that typifies this era. His break with the restrictions of Japanese medicine is revealed inTon'isho(Book of the simple physician) andMan'apo(Myriad relief formulas). Both of these texts are landmarks: the former being the first work written in Japanese for a popular audience; the latter, the most extensive Japanese medical work prior to the seventeenth century.

    Confluences of Medicinebrings to the fore the range of factors-networks of Buddhist priests, institutional support, availability of materials, relevance of overseas knowledge to local conditions of domestic strife, and serendipity-that influenced the Japanese acquisition of Chinese medical information. It offers the first substantive portrait of the impact of the Song printing revolution in medieval Japan and provides a rare glimpse of Chinese medicine as it was understood outside of China. It is further distinguished by its attention to materia medica and medicinal formulas and to the challenges of technical translation and technological transfer in the reception and incorporation of a new pharmaceutical regime.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6017-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. [Maps]
    (pp. vi-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xx)

    This book, the first monograph in English to examine aspects of medieval Japanese medical history, is largely based on a study of the medical writings of the Buddhist priest and physician Kajiwara Shōzen 梶原性 全 (1265 1337).¹ His two extant works—theTon’ishō頓医抄 (Book of the Simple Physician) of 1304² and theMan’anpō万安方 (Myriad Relief Prescriptions) of 1327³—are landmarks in Japanese medical history. The former is the first medical work written in Japanese rather than in Chinese script and the first medical work that was intended for wide dissemination. The latter, written in Chinese and directed at...

    (pp. 1-24)

    Coinciding with the onset of a second wave of Chinese cultural influence on Japan, the Kamakura era was characterized by unprecedented change and mobility, new opportunities for interaction, and challenges to existing forms of institutional, religious, and cultural authority.¹ While this did not mean that older forms and conventions were suddenly swept aside or even that changes proceeded completely or uniformly, the larger picture is clear.

    Three broad developments are particularly noteworthy. First was the establishment of Japan’s first warrior government, the Kamakurabakufu,and more generally the attendant political and cultural rise of the warrior class at the ultimate...

  7. Chapter 2 SONG MEDICINE: A View from Japan
    (pp. 25-45)

    This chapter aims to convey a sense of the impact of Song medical texts in medieval Japan by looking at two general themes. The first is how access to Song medical texts restructured the landscape of knowledge about medicine in Japan. For this I examine the background of Japanese medical writing, the scale of Song medical writing, and some of what was learned about medicine from Song writings. The second theme is how some specific elements of knowledge made it possible to identify shortcomings in Japanese medicine and thus to make improvements in Japanese medicine. In taking up these themes,...

    (pp. 46-66)

    This chapter highlights the pharmaceutical aspects of the new knowledge available in the East Asian macroculture and shows how Shōzen was a beneficiary of access to and information about materia medica transported along what I call the Pharmaceutical Silk Road. Five topics are discussed: first, the increasing availability of overseas materia medica; second, the technical challenges faced by Shōzen in trying to understand formulas and materia medica; third, some of the changes in Chinese medicine between the Tang and Song eras and the influence of Islamic medicine on Song medicine; and fourth, the new illness category of disorders of qi...

    (pp. 67-88)

    We do not know how prevalent the disease ofrai癩 (in modern times, the term for Hansen’s disease or leprosy) was prior to the Kamakura era, and we do not know how common it was even during that era. However,raileprosy and the condition of those who contracted it were significant medical, social, and religious issues during Kajiwara Shōzen’s lifetime. The religious and social status of those suffering from it was sufficiently problematic that historians regularly identifyraiand the response to it as central to understanding issues of discrimination in the medieval era.

    In medieval Japan,rai...

    (pp. 89-112)

    The preceding chapters have looked at the engagement of Song medical knowledge in a time of peace. The environment was conducive to acquiring books, to gauging the efficacy of medicines, and to spending extended periods of time reflecting upon medicine, and it facilitated ready access to a wide range of materia medica. In 1333, however, four years before Kajiwara Shōzen’s death, that environment changed radically.

    While the details need not detain us here, an unprecedented explosion of violence resulted, for the first time in Japanese history, in the obliteration of an entire institution of government. The Kamakurabakufuwas destroyed,...

    (pp. 113-120)

    The preceding chapters have taken up several topics relating to the acquisition of medical writings, the engagement of a new pharmaceutical regime, and some reasons for and ways in which new information was understood and integrated. Here I would like to make a number of broader observations relating to the appropriation, testing, and refining of medical knowledge. While it is generally known that in the premodern era Japanese physicians—and indeed specialists in many areas—engaged new knowledge and sought ways to utilize it, little attention has been paid to the actual processes involved. It is hoped that the following...

    (pp. 121-122)
  13. NOTES
    (pp. 123-158)
    (pp. 159-166)
    (pp. 167-190)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 191-202)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 203-204)