Medicine in Edo


. - - - Welcome to Edo 江戸 ! - - - .


under construction

Medicine in Edo

and the illness of Matsuo Basho

In the times before the advent of modern western medicine, Asia relied heavily on the use of traditional remedies, medical plants and minerals and then prayers to the various deities !

. Chinese Medicine 漢方 .
medicine from China, kanpoo, kanpooyaku 漢方薬
- - - biwayootoo 枇杷葉湯 (びわようとう) biwa yootoo, biwa yoto
drink from dried loquat leaves

Later many young doctors went to Nagasaki to study
. Dutch learning 蘭學 / 蘭学 rangaku .
science from
oranda オランダ / 阿蘭陀 Holland


. Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of Medicine 薬師如来 .
The Buddha of Healing


. isha 医者, ishi 医師 doctors in Edo .

a growing list


Anatomical illustrations from Edo-period Japan

Here is a selection of old anatomical illustrations that provide a unique perspective on the evolution of medical knowledge in Japan during the Edo period (1603-1868).

LOOK at them all here :
- source : pinktentacle.com

Nihon Iryō Bunkashi 日本医療文化史
History of Japanese Medical Culture
Shibunkaku Publishing, 1989


kaitai ningyoo 解体人形 Kaitai Ningyo doll
showing the intestines according to the Western approach to medicine.

Made by 小林文素 Kobayashi Bunso (1769 - 1826) in
Kobayashi worked in the government office of 田野口村 Tanoguchi village in 佐久市 Sakuma city, Nagano.
He had obtained illustrations of the anatomical translations and made his own illustrations to teach it to the people.
. Doctor Sugita Genpaku 杉田玄白 (1733 - 1817) .
and his colleges had worked on the translations in Edo.
Kaitai Shinsho 解体新書 (New Book of Anatomy).


goyaku sanbyoo 御役三病 The three most feared diseases in Edo were

hashika 麻疹 measles
suitoo 水痘 / 水套 chicken pox
tennentoo 天然痘 / toosoo 痘瘡 smallpox, variola

- www.yamamoto-museum.com

. Smallpox and the color RED .

Minamoto no Tametomo and the God of Smallpox

. Red Amulets to protect Children .

Imo no Kami 痘瘡の神 the deity of smallpox

tsuki ni na o tsutsumi kanete ya imo no kami

the name of the moon
wrapped in a double meaning -
God of Smallpox

Tr. Gabi Greve

Matsuo Basho, written in 1689, on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month.
元禄2年8月15日. Oku no Hosomichi, in Tsuruga, near Yu no O Tooge 湯尾峠 Yunoo Toge pass.

shrine for the God of Smallpox at the Pass

At the tea house of the pass, near the shrine, they sold amulets against smallpox.
This was also the full moon night (IMO meigetsu) when people eat taro potatoes (sato IMO).
So this is a pun with the sound IMO, since the kanji for smallpox 疱瘡 is usually read HOOSOO, but can be read IMO.

. Matsuo Basho and the Kami deities of Japan .

Oku no Hosomichi - - - - Station 41 - Tsuruga 敦賀 - - -
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


source : www.gakken.co.jp


. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

machi ishi ya yashikigata yori koma mukae

the doctor of the town -
from a samurai mansion they come
picking him up with a horse

Written in 延宝3年, Basho age 32.
In the times of Basho, the "doctor of the town" did not have a very high reputation. Here Basho makes fun of the low position of these doctors.
The samurai lived in yashiki 屋敷 mansions, but it could be just a poor residence.

There is also this famous kigo, related to
. WKD : koma mukae 駒迎え "picking up the horses" .
aki no komabiki 秋の駒牽 selecting horses in autumn
observance kigo for mid-autumn


kusuri nomu sarademo shimo no makura kana

I drink some medicine
but there is still frost
on my pillow

Written abound the 22nd (25th) day of the 11th lunar month, 1687.
During his travelings, Basho was ill at the home of his disciple Kitoo 起倒 / 欄木起倒 Atsuta.
Basho had a chronic illness of his stomach and Kito went out to buy some medicine for him.
This hokku shows the feeling of loneliness and desperation of Basho when traveling alone and depending on the kindness of others.

shimo no makura is another expression for the pillow of a traveller, like the "kusamakura" grass pillow.

. Oi no Kobumi 笈の小文 .

. makura - the pillow of Matsuo Basho .


minazuki wa fukubyoo yami no atsusa kana

the sixth lunar month
is a time for stomach illness
with its great heat . . .


the sixth lunar month
with its great heat
is a time for stomach illness . . .

another version was

hiru wa nao fukubyoo yami no atsusa kana

midday with its great heat is a time for stomach illness . . .

written in 1693, sixth lunar month - 元禄4年6月 (now July/August)
This hokku has the cut marker KANA at the end of line 3.

It seems Basho is not contrasting the great heat with a great fever but is really suffering from some kind of chronic stomach illness.

. minazuki 水無月 (みなづき) sixth lunar month .
lit. "month without water", the great heat before the typhoons of autumn arrive.
now from about July 7 to August 7
kigo for late summer


source : basyo.okunohosomichi.net

yakuran ni izure no hana o kusamakura

from your medicine garden
which flower should I take
to stuff in my pillow?

Written on the 8th day of the 7th lunar month at the home of a doctor in Echigo Takada, Hosokawa Shun-an 細川春庵, haiku name Toosetsu 棟雪 Tosetsu, who had planted a lot of medicinal herbs in his estate.
One can imagine Basho and the doctor walking along the garden path, looking at all the herbs and Shun-an explaining their curing effect.
This is a greeting hokku to his host.
The season is autumn, but no special kigo is mentioned.

Oku no Hosomichi 奥の細道 - - - Station 33 - Echigo 越後路 - - -
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

花薬欄 is also a koan in Zen Buddhism, used by Master Unmon 雲門, Hekigan Roku Nr. 39 碧巌録.
source : www.rinnou.net


. wazuraeba mochi o mo kuwazu momo no hana .
I am so ill ...

. tabi ni yande yume wa kareno o kakemeguru .
ill on the road
the Death Hokku of Matsuo Basho

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

source : www.bashouan.com/pn

more TBA

How to wrap powder medicine in Edo
A small square sheet of paper was usually folded into a triangle.
sankaku 三角 triangle

Look at the full process :
source : www.geocities.jp/wom38/tane_tutumi

. tsurushibina つるし雛 / 吊るし雛 small hanging hina dolls .

A small triangle was added with the wish that the girl would grow up healthy and never be in need of medicine. Bad luck should be folded into the triangle and never come out again.
This was one of the easy-to-make figures and could even be made by hand by elder sisters.


Ishinboo 医心方 Ishinbo (ancient medical book)
- Heian Period, 12th c.
- Classified as a National Treasure of Japan
東京国立博物館 (Tokyo National Museum)


. - - - Welcome to Edo 江戸 ! .



Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

chuujoo 中条 doctors specializing in abortion
nakoodo isha 仲人医者 doctors as matchmakers for marriage

Gabi Greve said...

Matsuo Basho

kusuri nomu sarademo shimo no makura kana

I drink some medicine
but there is still frost
on my pillow
Memorial stone
Shimoyozuka 霜夜塚 "Memorial stone of a frosty night"
at henro temple 44
菅生山 Sugozan  大覚院 Daikaku-in  大寶寺 / 大宝寺 Daiho-Ji
愛媛県浮穴郡久万高原町菅生1173 /

Gabi Greve said...

The specialist for treatment of sword cuts
by Markus Sesko

. . . kinsô’i (金創医) that referred to “physicians” who were specialized in the treatment of incised wounds in general and of arrow wounds and sword cuts in particular.
. . . a medical service statute, the ishitsu-ryô (医疾令)
. . . court physicians (ten’yaku-ryô, 典薬寮)
Eye surgery as seen in the late Heian to early Kamakura period picture scroll Yamai no Sôshi (病草紙).
Taihô and Yôrô Codes. In these codes, it was distinguished between internal medicine (tairyô, 体療), surgery (sôshu, 創腫), pediatrics (shôshô, 少小), obstetrics (jo’i, 女医), otorhinolaryngology (jimoku-kushi, 耳目口歯), acupuncture (hari, 鍼・針), massage (anma, 按摩), charm healing (jugon, 咒禁), and herb farming (yaku’en, 薬園).
. . . since the Nanbokuchô period, there were now “real specialists” like the haremono-ishi (腫物医師, tumor surgeon), the kizu-ishi (疵医師, general wound surgeon), and the kinsô’i (金創医) and no longer just “surgeons” who performed all surgeries.
. . . from Muromachi-eriod records that persons injured by sword cuts were treated with medicine taken internally, e.g. ginseng, Ligusticum wallichii, or peony roots, and that bleeding was stopped by sprinkling powdered resins with names like shôroku (松緑), furuse-ma (古瀬麻), or kirinketsu (麒麟血) onto wounds.
details are here

Gabi Greve said...

Edo Edo Edo
sokuriki 足力 "strong legs" massage
sokuriki anma 足力按摩 / 足力あんま massage with the feet

A kind of massage with the feet, by stepping on the back and kicking the patient.

anma 按摩 Amma massage

Gabi Greve said...

福田安典 Fukuda Yasunori
『医学書のなかの「文学」 江戸の医学と文学が作り上げた世界』


Gabi Greve said...

Doctors in Edo

Sugiyama Waichi 杉山和一 / 杉山検校 Sugiyama Kengyo (1614–1694)
was a Japanese acupuncturist, widely regarded as the "Father of Japanese Acupuncture".
- Temple 平塚山 Hiratsukazan 安楽院 Anraku-In 城官寺 Jokan-Jii
The doctor 山川城官貞久 Yamakawa Jokan Shokyu (1596 - 1615 ), who attended to Shogun 将軍家光 Tokugawa Iemitsu, came to Hiratsuka Jinja to pray for the healing of his patient. His grave is in the compound and his name Jokan is the temple name.
In the compound are also graves of other Shogunal doctors of the 多紀桂山一族 Taki Keizan family.
The father of Keizan, 藍渓 Taki Kankei, served as Shogunal doctor from 1772 to 1781 and also held the title 法印 Hoin of a high Buddhist priest. He produced a lot of medicine and tried to educate more doctors. Keizan followed in the footsteps of his father. He received the title of 医官 Ikan (now maybe Health Minister) and also Hoin. But for some reason this title was lost around 1812. In his later years he wrote books about medicine. His son, 多紀元堅 Taki Kengen (1795 - 1857) also became official Ikan and treated all people, regardless of their social status, from the High to the poor lowly. He even distributed money to the very poor.

Gabi Greve said...

Itoo Genboku 伊藤玄朴 Ito Genboku
(1801 – 1871)
and his teacher
Philipp Franz Balthasar von Siebold (1796 – 1866)


Gabi Greve said...

Maeno Roytaku 前野良沢 (1723 - 1803)
Maeno Ranka 前野蘭化

He was born in the residence of the 奥平 Okudaira family at Edo Teppozu.

Gabi Greve said...

By the edo period surveys of a wide range of domestic plants were selectively bred and cultivated so a wide range variety became available. A great many books were published on herbalism compared to western medicine. Herbalism developed into modern natiural history and is still used today both in Japan and the USA.
For instance the common aspirin was originally derived from the willow tree and its usage goes back 3,500 years.
A keiraku 経絡 (meridian) doll

Gabi Greve said...

Yamai no soshi 病草子: This illustrated handscroll is a collection of various unusual illnesses.

The work was copied in the Kansei Era (1789-1801) of the Edo Period by the Nagoya poet Odate Takakado.
This copy was a single handscroll composed of fifteen scenes, nine of which are currently owned by the Japanese national government. The other sections were separated at an earlier date and remain in private collections. Four other scenes that were not included in the Kansei Era copy have surfaced in recent years . From the painting styles and subjects, these four are considered to have been sections of the original handscroll, which were separated from the others before the Edo copy was made.

Kyoto National Museum: http://www.kyohaku.go.jp/eng/syuzou/meihin/emaki/item04.html