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The article analyzes the infl uence of the medieval traditions on Japanese medicine during the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as the origins of the modern syncretic approach to medicine. The Unequal Treaties signed with Western powers and subsequent events that restored imperial rule to the Emperor of Japan marked the start of the Meiji era (1868–1912). The new policy led to the modernization and Westernization of the country and affected different spheres of political, economic and social life of the Japanese. The medical policy was also focused on the foundations of Western medicine while the methods of Chinese pharmacology kampo became strictly prohibited. However, the medieval traditions and medical concepts turned out to be so stable that this fact caused the appearance of a special Japanese medical system that combines some elements of both traditional Chinese and European medicine. At the end of the 19th century in terms of numerous cholera outbreaks, the nutrition principles formulated by a Japanese Neo-Confucianist philosopher Kaibara Ekiken (1630– 1714) gained popularity. His theory was based on the idea of interconnection of the contrary forces yin yang, as well as on the force of vital energy qi. During the Meiji period, many topics mentioned by Kaibara Ekiken were given a new meaning by the Enlighteners of a new era. It was Gensai Murai (1863–1927), one of the famous writers and enlighteners of the Meiji period, who presented to the Japanese society the most detailed nutrition concept depicted in his well-known novel «Gourmandism» (Kuido:raku, 1903). Gensai Murai stated that despite the European dominance in the fi eld of clinical medicine, from time immemorial the Chinese doctors paid the great attention to the nutrition issues. Such a dual approach to medicine, refl ected in the novel, can also be observed in modern Japan. The traditional Chinese Medicine has become integrated into modern medical system.


History of Japan, Meiji era, medicine, Gensai Murai, Kaibara Ekiken

Oksana A. Nalivayko. Institute of Asian and African Studies, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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