The Japan Academy

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Vol. 79 No. 10 (2003)

Vol. 79 No. 10 (2003)

“Ishinpo”, Vol. 22 (Collection of Ochanomizu Library)

  “Ishinpo” is one of the oldest Japanese medical books, edited by Tanba Yasuyori (912-995) in 984 in which he cited about two hundred kinds of Chinese and Korean medical books. The book consists of thirty volumes: the first volume includes the medical ethics, the standard of medical care and the preparation of medicines, and the second volume, acupuncture and moxibustion. In Vols. 3-25 he deals with various branches of medicine, such as internal medicine and surgery. In Vols. 26-29 he refers to Yojo (health care) and in Vol. 30, to food. Gynecology and obstetrics are included in Vol. 22. As shown here, there are ten pictures of embryos in accordance with the months of pregnancy. The one on the front page is a ten month old embryo and a pathway of acupuncture for a pregnant woman.
  The Western ancient obstetrics was developed by Soranos de Ephesos in the second century. Even in the tenth century when “Ishinpo” appeared, obstetrics in the Western world was greatly influenced by Soranos. For instance, the embryos in the textbook were drawn in almost the same size from the early stage to the last one of pregnancy.

Written by Dr. Shizu Sakai, Visiting Professor of Juntendo University.