Anatomical illustrations from Edo-period Japan

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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).


 Pregnancy illustrations, circa 1860

These pregnancy illustrations are from a copy of Ishinhō, the oldest existing medical book in Japan. Originally written by Yasuyori Tanba in 982 A.D., the 30-volume work describes a variety of diseases and their treatment. Much of the knowledge presented in the book originated from China. The illustrations shown here are from a copy of the book that dates to about 1860.






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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.


Trepanning instruments, circa 1790 [+]
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.
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 Tōmon Yamawaki, son of Tōyō Yamawaki, followed in his father's footsteps and performed three human dissections.


Female dissection, 1774
He conducted his first one in 1771 on the body of a 34-year-old female executed criminal. The document, entitled Gyokusai Zōzu, was published in 1774.





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Japan's fifth human dissection -- and the first to examine the human brain -- was documented in a 1772 book by Shinnin Kawaguchi, entitled Kaishihen (Dissection Notes). The dissection was performed in 1770 on two cadavers and a head received from an execution ground in Kyōto.




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