The Japan Society of Acupuncture and Moxibustion (jsam)

Japanese Acupuncture

HOME > Japanese Acupuncture

Japanese Acupuncture and Moxibustion introduced to Europe

A Sketch of Acupuncture and Moxibustion Introduced to Early Modern Europe from Japan

Japan°«s Position in Eastern - Western Medical Exchange

Until the beginning of the 19th century most of the information about Eastern medicine (Oriental medicine) entering into Europe came not from China but from the Nagasaki Dejima Trading Company in Japan.

The bearers of this information were the doctors and the scholarly inclined head of the Dutch East India Company's trading post.  Due to lack of information and language barriers the Dutch as yet lacked a consciousness of various aspects of East Asian culture and knowledge and thus told Europe that the acupuncture and moxibustion observed in Japan were °»common traditional medicines for Japan and China.°…

However, it included the instances of unique Japanese practices, and sometimes we can find even elements of Dutch medicine which the Japanese had incorporated into their own practice.

Figure1
Dejima Trading Company where the sustainable medical exchange was made.  
#24 is the hospital, #28 is the surgeon°«s house
Thomas Salmon: Hedendaagsche Historie of Tegenwoordige Staat van Alle Volkeren 1792

°»Guide Tube Acupuncture Insertion Method°… and °»Tapping Acupuncture Insertion Method°…

 

The works of the German physician Engelbert KAEMPFER (1651-1716) who visited Japan in 1690 mentioned °»guide tube acupuncture insertion method°… and °»tapping acupuncture insertion method°… which were invented in Japan in addition to °»twisting acupuncture insertion method°… from China.

SUGIYAMA Waichi, who lost his eyesight as a child, tried hard but failed to master the twisting acupuncture insertion method and later devised the °»guide tube acupuncture insertion method°…, which allowed him to gauge the depth of the needle insertion. Today stainless steel and plastic insertion guide tubes are used throughout the world.

"Tapping acupuncture insertion method" was devised in the latter 16th century by the monk MUBUN. He ignored the usual meridian system and diagnosed and treated only the abdominal area. His insertion method was disseminated by MISONO Isai believed to be his son.

Figure2
The mallet, gold needles and silver insertion
tube brought back to Germany by KAEMPFER.
Example of treatment points for °»colic°… (ŠÕńň)
KAEMPFER was told that this condition was
characterized by a belt of stagnated Ki (Qi) in
the abdominal area. He regarded this as colic
and concluded that the tapping of the needle
released gas in the intestine.
Engelbert Kaempfer: History of Japan 1727

 

 

 

°»Keiraku (Meridians)°… and °»Ki (Qi)°…
The western doctors who had to depend on the Dutch at Dejima Company for language were troubled by the translating of the meaning of "Keiraku" and "Ki". They interpreted  °»Keiraku°… as arteries and veins, and °»Ki°… as steam, gas or pneuma until the latter part of the 18th century.

Figure3
Willem ten RHIJNE (1647-1700), who visited Japan
in 1674, explained °»acupuncture techniques°… in
Latin, where °»acus°… means needle, °»pungere°… means
to stick and through his work °»Discussion of
Arthritis°… this expression was disseminated
throughout Europe.  However, the illustration he
obtained °»Dōjin-yuketsu-shinkyū-zukyō°…
 (°»∆ľŅÕ腧∑ÍÔ™ĶšŅř∑–°… by WANG Wei Yi (≤¶Õ£įž) was
erroneously identified as °»the anatomical charts
depicting arteries (arteriae) and veins (venae)°…
Willem ten RHIJNE: De Arthritide, 1683

 


The West in the East
OGINO Genkai, medical minister of Kyoto (1737-1806) witnessed dissections of the corpses of executed criminals and studied drugs and blood-letting administrated by red-haired (western) people.

KIMURA Motosada, who wrote °»Shinkyū-gokuhi-shō°… (Ô™Ķš∂ň»Žĺ∂) was OGINO°«s student and also a unique physician. The Dutch language version of °»Shinkyū-gokuhi-shō°… introduced to Europe by Isaak TITSINGH (1745-1812) head of the Trading Company was widely read at the beginning of the 19th century during the acupuncture boom in France as the °»typical Chinese/Japanese traditional medicine.°…  However, lost in the translation, were the sources and uniqueness of KIMURA, who was well versed in western medicine.  Therefore, western drug therapy and blood-letting therapy were introduced to Europe as if they were Chinese / Japanese traditional medicine.

 

Figure4
Left: Blood-letting therapy using lancet (lancetta) and razor. 
°»Shinkyū-gokuhi-shō°…by KIMURA Motosada (°»Ô™Ķš∂ň»Žĺ∂°…), in 1781.

Right: The title of °»Memorandum of Electrical Acupuncture Technique°… (°»ŇŇĶ§Ô™Ĺ—§ő≥–ĹŮ°…), masterpiece of French physician Jean-Baptiste SALANDIERE published in 1725. 
In the appendix, there is a thesis titled °»Thesis on acupuncture and moxibustion which are the main therapies for Japanese, Korean and Chinese people°….


Wolfgang MICHEL, M.A., PhD
Professor emeritus, Kyushu University,
Doctor of Cultural Sciences

 

 


 

Page top

The Japan Society of Acupuncture and Moxibustion (JSAM) 3-44-14, Minami-otsuka, Toshima-ku, Tokyo 170-0005, Japan tel: +81-3-3985-6188, fax: +81-3-3985-6135