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Category: Medical Science, Pharmacy, Nursing, Welfare(2/3)

E-books | Detail

Title: Permeation: How centuries of assiduous acquisition of Western medical knowledge prepared the ground for the transformation of Japanese feudal society into a major modern power

Author: Shiro Kira, J. Patrick Barron, Yuko Atarashi

Category: Medical Science, Pharmacy, Nursing, Welfare
Number of pages: 218
Size: A5

Language: English



Book Summary

When was the real voice of Western Medicine in Japan first heard? On the occasion of arrival of Catholic missionaries supported by Portuguese voyagers on mid-16th century?
In the age of Nanban (Iberian) and Kōmō (People of Northern Europe) medicine in the first quarter of the 17th century? Or on the lifting of the ban on the study of Rangaku (Dutch studies) by the Shōgun Yoshimune on the mid-18th century? Its growth was influenced often, widely and greatly by pressure from various sources, both within Japan, and countries in Europe or even the US, which had no formal relations with Japan at that time.
The author in fully convinced that the growth of Western medicine in Japan was the seeds bed, or at least cultural crucible of the modern history of our country itself.
Whithin just over a century, from the lifting of this ban on studying Rangaku by the Shōgun Yoshimune until the Meiji Restoration, our forerunners devoted themselves to the introduction of Western medicine to our country, highly evaluating its significance despite turbulent political and social conditions within our early modern history. First of all, they introduced exact illustrations of the inner structures of the human body as basic and important knowledge for physicians in their daily clinical work. Previously they had been given imaginary and nonscientific pictures derived from Chinese medicine, but now they spread medical knowledge classifying it into internal medicine, surgery and gynecology. Furthermore, they expanded their interests into the forefront of astronomy, geography and military science developing essential knowledge in these fields for the modernization of Japan.
On the occasion of the annual visits of homage to Edo by the Dutch factory's staff from Deshima, the Japanese raised multiple questions regarding these items, based on the knowledge acquired through previous visits and asked for introductions to newly-found evidence and requested to import new books on those subjects, to be brought from Europe to Japan the following year.
At the beginning, interpreters in Nagasaki were of course the teachers for the next generations of Rangaku scholars. Literally, with the sensation of “essaying on a voyage on a wide ocean in a rudderless boat” they started their work of translation of Dutch books. Then they organized the Dutch-Japanese dictionaries with unceasing effort. They increased the numbers of the dictionaries by hand copying, page-by-page, in Dutch horizontally, and provided corresponding Japanese words vertically. The technique to increase the number of the translated book was to print. However, the way of printing at that time was to use wood plates to inversely carve the letters and figures. To spread knowledge of western countries widely within Japan required a remarkable amount of labor, time, effort and money. In addition to the above described efforts, to generalize the new knowledge further, they established Rangaku Juku, and did their best to educate young students, hoping they would transmit knowledge to the next generation. Students who studied at each Juku, also understood the intention of their forerunners and expanded their learning from medicine to science, social science, and foreign languages other than Dutch. As well informed persons, they went back to the cities of their lords, and reported to them the news and trends of the modern countries in the world. It is not sure whether they predicted the collapse of the Tokugawa Bakufu, the Meiji Restoration and the arrival of the new Meiji age or not. However, it is not too much to say that they played a role in bringing up young, capable persons who pushed forward the change of Japan at that time, The growth of our western medicine was based on a continuation of terrible struggles, filled with hardships, and was not at all smooth. From there, the new Japan was born.

Author Profile

Shiro Kira graduated from the Medical School of the University of Tokyo in 1955. After returning from the U. S. as a Fulbright Scholar in 1965, he served as an Assistant Professor in Juntendo Medical School from 1973, a Professor in Jichi Medical School in 1975, returning to Juntendo as Professor of Respiratory Medicine in 1985, later became Dean, until 1996. Meanwhile, he served as the President of Japanese Respiratory Society, the chief secretary of the Asian Pacific Society of Respirology(APSR), a founder and the first editor in chief of Respirology and was President of the APSR 2000-2. He is Professor Emeritus of Juntendo University and Jichi Medical College.

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Patrick Barron finished high school at Canterbury School in the U. S. and undergraduate work at the University of Pennsylvania. After graduate work in Japanese, including the history of ancient Japanese, while simultaneously being mentored in medical communication by Prof. Yoshihiro Hayata, of Tokyo Medical University, in 1980 he become associate professor at St. Marianna University School of Medicine, where he pioneered English communications for medical purposes, eventually returning to Tokyo Medical University where he established and chaired the first academic department in a medical school devoted to medical communications. Now Professor Emeritus of Tokyo Medical University, he is also Adjunct Professor of Seoul National University Bundang Hospital.

Yuko Atarashi is a pharmacist and medical translator who contributed greatly to the Department of International Medical Communications of Tokyo Medical University. She graduated in Pharmacology from Osaka University of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1994, and after postgraduate work on medical terminology in the U. S. she became a member of the Department of International Medical Communications of Tokyo University until April 2013.

From the Author