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Anatomical illustrations from Edo-period Japan

January 5, 2012

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

Trepanning instruments, circa 1790

Trepanning instruments, circa 1790

These illustrations are from a book on European medicine introduced to Japan via the Dutch trading post at Nagasaki. Pictured here are various trepanning tools used to bore holes in the skull as a form of medical treatment. The book was written by Kōgyū Yoshio, a top official interpreter of Dutch who became a noted medical practitioner and made significant contributions to the development of Western medicine in Japan.

Human anatomy (date unknown)

This anatomical illustration is from the book Kanshin Biyō, by Bunken Kagami.

Human anatomy (date unknown)

In this image, a sheet of transparent paper showing the outline of the body is placed over the anatomical illustration.

Dissection, 1783

This illustration is from a book by Genshun Koishi on the dissection of a 40-year-old male criminal executed in Kyōto in 1783.

Source: Nihon Iryō Bunkashi (History of Japanese Medical Culture), Shibunkaku Publishing, 1989. Text and images via Pink Tentacle

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