The Harikikigaki

HaisyakuJapan’s Kyushu National Museum holds a copy of the Harikikigaki — a 16th century medical text of unknown authorship which claimed that diseases were caused by tiny bugs that crawled into the body. The Harikikigaki advises using acupuncture and herbs to deal with the bugs, like the Haisyaku to the right.

Pink Tentacles has scanned illustrations of some of the bugs along with an English language summary of the book’s description of the particular bug and how to fight it.  The Kyushu National Museum also has a web page with images of the various bugs, and accompanying text in Japanese.

According to The Japanese Times Online,

Until the late 19th century, Japanese people believed illness was spread by evil gods called yakubyogami. At first these gods were thought to take human form, but later, influenced by thinking in texts from China, some people came to think of them as little beasties small enough to enter the body. The Kyushu National Museum in Fukuoka, which opened a year ago as Japan’s newest national museum (the others are in Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara), owns a very interesting book called the Harikikigaki. Written in 1568, mostly about acupuncture, this rare text includes 63 color depictions of the various mushi (bugs) then believed to cause disease.

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