AND REPRINTING OF CHINESE MEDICAL BOOKS
DURING THE EDO
In the Edo Period, Chinese medical knowledge mostly reached Japan through
the medium of books. An appreciable number of these books was disseminated
in the form of Japanese reprints and knew a wide distribution. I decided
to study, compare and analyze these imported medical books, because I thought
that in this way it would be possible to get a hold, in historical and
numerical terms, on the actual conditions under which Chinese medicine
was introduced to, and accepted by, society at large. The results are as
The records on the import of Chinese medical books contain a total of 1917
references to 804 separate titles. As a rule, these were voluminous books
that were popular in China and could be sold to Japan at a high price.
Japanese reprints of Chinese medical books number 679, distributed over
314 separate titles; approx. half of these reprints were made during the
first half of the Edo period. Reprints of NEIJING (a notoriously
difficult text) and of works on the technically demanding subjects of acupuncture
and moxibustion caution cluster in the first half of the Edo Period. Books
containing only the main, canonical text were reprinted forty to fifty
years after the appearance of the annotated editions of the same texts.
After the middle of the Edo Period, reprints of Chinese books suddenly
become fewer, which was due to the increasingly Japanese character that
medicine took on, and to an increase in the printing of Japanese medical
All in all, approx. 40% of the imported books was eventually reprinted
in Japan. A very high percentage of these reprints (46%) appeared within
fifty years of the year in which they were first imported, the time lag
becoming shorter the more one approaches the beginning of the Edo Period.
Already in the first half of the Edo Period, bestsellers among the Japanese
reprints were thin books of three chapters (KAN / MAKI) or less;
whether these books were popular in China, or whether they were recent
publications, had no relation with their popularity in Japan. Throughout
the Edo Period, we also find reprints that are excerpts and revisions of
voluminous Chinese books, which shows the typically Japanese inclination
towards down sizing.
Thus, throughout the Edo Period Japan had its own, original point of view
in the reception of Chinese medical books and medical knowledge, and at
the same time managed to turn these into something Japanese.
In the Edo Period Chinese knowledge, which was mostly transmitted through
books, influenced all aspects of Japanese culture. At the same time, it
was also to some extent Japanized. When we consider the influence of these
foreign books, the first problem that we have to examine is that of the
period of their arrival and dissemination, and the second, that of the
numbers in which they arrived and the degree to which they spread.
Throughout the Edo Period, official and private records were kept, especially
in Nagasaki, listing the titles of books and the years in which they were
imported. We also have secondary materials, which are older than these
still surviving primary sources, and consist of documents which record
the titles of Chinese books, and of which we can be as good as certain
that they do not reflect hearsay or contain indirect quotations. In theirChûgoku
iseki torai nendai sômokuroku -- Edo-ki ("General Catalogue of
Imported Chinese Medical Books -- the Edo Period"; hereafter cited as Mokuroku)
Mayanagi and Tomobe have listed the medical books that they have identified
in approx. thirty sets of such materials, and the year in which they were
On the other hand, as the printing business flourished, Japanese reprints
of Chinese books were printed in increasingly large numbers. In the Edo
Period, too, printed texts were extremely important for the dissemination
of knowledge. In other words, the year of appearance of Japanese reprints
and the number of reprints can be deemed to give reliable indications regarding
the chronology and intensity of the spread of Chinese medical knowledge.
Kosoto reports on the situation of Japanese reprints in his Wa-kokubon
Kanseki isho shuppan sôgô nenpyô ("General Chronology
of Japanese reprints of Chinese medical Books"; hereafter cited as Nenpyô).
The analysis of these sources constitutes a different approach from the
examination of individual books, and since I believe that this analysis
will give us a historical and quantitative grip on the advent of Chinese
medicine and on the actual situation in which it was received (juyô)
by society at large, I will try to do some computing and comparing, using
in the first instance the Mokuroku and the Nenpyô.
2. An Investigation of the Imported
Chinese Medical Books
2. 1. An Investigation and Tabulation
of the Materials
Following the entries in the extant primary and secondary materials which
we used, we have entered the year of import etc. of approx. 980 titles
into our catalogue. These titles also included Dutch and Korean books,
and also may Chinese books of which the titles were partly different but
that in our judgment actually were the same books. There is also some additional
information regarding titles and dates that I have discovered after the
publication of the Mokuroku. A retabulation of these data yields
the result that the Chinese medical books of which import records exist
number 804 titles, excluding different printings [of the same text].
When I divided these 804 titles by categories, the results were as follows:
pharmacopoeias of the bencao-type -- 84; the classical works by
Zhang Ji (Zhongjing; Eastern Han) Shanghan and Jingui --
64 resp. 10; the classic Neijing -- 225; books about acupuncture
and moxibustion -- 15: Douzhen ("Smallpox and Measles"; the best
represented among the specialized books treating only one single disease)
-- 37: others (mainly books on medical treatment) -- 566.
When one tabulates the number of times that these 804 titles are mentioned
in the import records, one finds that they are mentioned 1917 times. Table
1 gives the figures per category,
for ten-year periods, and Graph 1shows the evolution through time.
2.2. Trends and Characteristics
of the Book Import
The period of 1601 till 1870 used in Table
1 corresponds with the Edo Period. In order to give a numeric impression
of this period of 270 years, I have divided it into three periods of 90
years each, which I will call the Early, Middle, and Late Period (a periodisation
which is rather different from the ordinary historical periodisation);
the result of a retabulation on this basis is shown in Table
2. According to Table 2,
it is in the Middle Period that we find the greatest number of records
of medical books in general, followed by the late Period and the Early
Period, in this order. If, however, we look at individual categories, the
only categories to which the same order applies are "books on medical treatment,"bencao,
and Neijing for all the other categories, the situation is different.
This may to a certain extent reflect the evolution through time but, nevertheless,
I think it deserves a closer look.
We have 1917 separate entries in the import records for a period of 270
years; in other words, on the average we have seventy-one entries per ten-year
period. As one can see from Table
1 and Graph 1, the number of entries
in each ten-year period mostly remains between sixty and 110, but there
are periods in which the number is extremely small, or exceeds 150.
The following reason may be adduced to explain why the number of records
is small in the period from 1601 to 1630. The inspection of imported books
in Nagasaki began in 1630, when on the orders of the bakufu the
Shuntokuji was founded in order to expose Christian books -- a task which
since then was fulfilled traditionally by the successive abbots of the
Shuntokuji. <3> Therefore no official inspection records of foreign
books will have existed before 1630. I do record the import of eleven books
in the period from 1601 to 1610, but I have been able to do so only because
I utilized a secondary source, Hayashi Razan's Kikensho mokuroku ("Catalogue
of Books Already Read"), <4> which dates from 1604 and lists eleven
Chinese medical books.
On the other hand, the Sakokurei ("Edict that closed the country")
of 1638 restricted the Chinese trade to Nagasaki. In 1639, on the orders
of the magistrates of Nagasaki, Mukai Genshô (1609-1677) began to
inspect imported books, with the aim to acquire some for the shogunal library.
<3> One of my primary sources, O-Bunko Mokuroku, supposedly is
a record of the Mukai family. For these reasons, the number of recordings
rapidly increases from the decade 1631-1640 onwards.
There is also a reason why the number of recordings suddenly drops in the
years from 1661 till 1680. In order to suppress its opponent, the Zheng
family, the Qing court promulgated in Chunzhi 18 (1661) the so-called Qianhailing("Order to Move to Taiwan"), which remained in force till Kangxi 23 (1684),
and which forbade all ship movements on the sea. The influence this had
on shipping undoubtedly is the whole reason why the number of imported
books dwindled so suddenly.
The reason why the figures are low for the three decades of 1771 till 1790
and of 1821 till 1830 may be that we do not have sufficient primary sources,
which is compounded by the fact that at the same time we also have insufficient
secondary sources. This same insufficiency of both primary and secondary
sources is also the reason why we do not have one single record for 1861-1870.
This has to do with the fact that the bakufu was in its final years.
On the other hand, during the two twenty-year periods of 1711 to 1831 and
of 1831 to 1850 the number of recorded titles increases. In the first period,
in Kyôho 5 (1720), Tokugawa Yoshimune relaxed the ban on book imports
in the interest of the study of astronomy and calendar computation. <7>Yoshimune himself, too, ordered books about local history etc., and the
Chinese ships that had received his orders started to bring these books
from 1723 onward, and they were brought in great numbers in 1725 and 1726.
<8> This will probably have influenced our figures. For the second twenty-year
period we have an abundance of primary and secondary materials; hence,
the number of recorded titles is on the increase.
In this way the number of recorded titles of imported books definitely
increased or decreased with every decade but, with exception of the period
from 1661 till 1680, when the Qing government had promulgated its Qianhailing,
there were no extreme changes in the actual numbers of imported medical
books throughout the whole of the Edo Period. In other words, we can conclude
that approx. 60 to 1 10 separate entries per decade is the rule, and that
two peaks occurred in the two twenty-year periods from 1711 till 1730 and
from 1831 till 1850. If, moreover, we have a look at the various categories
(see sub-division in Table l)
and examine in which periods imports for each separate category peaked,
we see that these peaks coincide with at least one of the major peak periods
of 1711-1730 or 1831-1850. The evolution described above seems to be valid
also for the import records per category.
2.2.2. The Frequency of
The evolution of the import figures is similar both in its general and
in its categorical trends. If we take the Edo Period as a whole and compare
the number of times that individual titles are mentioned with the total
number of titles, then characteristics of the various categories will emerge.
Therefore I have tried to establish the number of times that one and the
same book, irrespective of differences in edition, was recorded through
the whole of the Edo Period, in other words, its recording frequency (kiroku
hindo). This recording frequency is obtained by dividing the number
of times individual titles were recorded (b) by the number of titles (a);
the result is shown in Table 3.
The average value is 2.4, i.e., in the course of the Edo Period one Chinese
medical book was on the average imported 2.4 times into Japan. The largest
deviations from this average value are in the categories Neijingwith 3.3 and "Smallpox and Measles" with 1.6. Both differ from the mean
value of 2.4 with more than thirty percent, which falls outside the statistical
error margin. The same small number of books of the category Neijingwas imported time after time, contrary to the category "Smallpox and Measles."
Perhaps this characteristic will give us a cue in regard to the trend of
Amongst the twenty-five titles of the category Neijing we find eight
titles that were imported five times or more; the original text of Suwenwas even imported twenty times, and its annotated edition Suwen zhuzheng
fawei eleven times. The reason why the original text and a small number
of annotated editions and commentaries were imported so often will have
been that the Neijing was the most imported classic in Chinese medicine,
but also a difficult text. Yet, both Suwen and Suwen zhuzheng
fawei had already been reprinted in Japan in the Early Edo period,
so it is not very likely that the frequency increased because of Japanese
demand. It seems more likely that developments on the Chinese side led
to larger exports, and thus to an increase in the frequency of recorded
On the other hand, within the thirty-seven books of the category "Smallpox
and Measles" the book that was recorded most frequently is Douzhen quanji(five
times), while the majority of the books in this category rates not more
than one or two times. "Smallpox and Measles" (douzhen) refers to
two lethal diseases that were difficult to cure. In this field, no classics
existed, and therefore one book after the other about "Smallpox and Measles"
was printed in China and imported into Japan. Although the recording frequencies
of the categories Neijing and "Smallpox and Measles" are diametrically
opposed, nevertheless, this seems to have been the result, not of developments
on the importing Japanese side, but on the exporting Chinese side. Of course,
many books were imported because they had been ordered on the Japanese
side, but these do not seem to make up such a high percentage of the total
of imported books. If this is the case, then we can surmise that also with
the other categories, which did not show values that greatly deviated from
the mean recording frequency, the trends in the numbers of imported books
for a large part reflect developments in China.
3. An Examination of the Chinese Medical
Books Reprinted in Japan
3.1. Investigation and
Computation of the Materials
The Nenpyô was compiled on the basis of catalogues of the
major public libraries in Japan and China, and it contains full bibliographical
data of 320 titles, chronologically arranged, of Japanese reprints of Chinese
medical books -- reprints of which the year of printing was clear. There
are, moreover, books that have a different title but of which it can be
determined that they are identical. There is some additional information
regarding titles and dates that I have discovered after the publication
of the Nenpyô, and books whose titles are titles of collections
and that therefore must also be tabulated as included books (shoshûsho).
A retabulation of these data yields the result that the Chinese medical
books that were reprinted during the Edo period now number 314, excluding
different printings of the same text.
These 314 titles can gross mood be divided into the categories "Medical
treatment" (207 titles), "Botany" (25 titles), Shanghan (27 titles),Jingui(3
titles), Neijing (14 titles), "Acupuncture and Moxibustion" (14
titles), and "Smallpox and Measles" (24 titles). The number of times that
these 313 titles were reprinted is 679. Table
4 shows these figures, set out per category and in ten-year periods;
development through time is shown in Graph
3.2. Trends and Characteristics
of the Japanese Reprints
3.2.1. Evolution Graph 2 gives a first overview of
the general evolutionary trend. The number of Japanese reprints of Chinese
medical books increases from 1601 onwards, reaches its first peak in the
decade of 1651 to 1660 and then begins to go down again. In 1761-1770 it
again takes an upward turn, reaching a second, smaller peak in the decade
of 1791 to 1880. Then the number goes down again, continuing that way until
the final period of the bakufu and the beginning of the Meiji era.
As Table 5, which is a retabulation
of Table 4 divided into three
ninety-year periods, shows, somewhat less than half of the total number
of Japanese reprints was made in the Early Period, before 1690. In the
Middle Period the numbers lessen rapidly, and in the Late Period they again
decrease a little. In the Late Period there was a small peak, but this
was insufficient to effect an increase for the Late Period as a whole.
The subdivision into categories of Table
5 shows that the evolution of the categories "Medical Treatment," "Botany"
and "Acupuncture and Moxibustion" more or less agree with the over-all
trend, but that the other categories do not agree with it at all. In other
words, the reprints of Neijingam heavily concentrated in the first
period, while for the categories"Shanghan," "Jingui" and "Smallpox
and Measles" most reprints were made in the Middle and Late Periods. Of
course, Japanese reprints presuppose a Japanese demand; consequently, the
above general and categorical evolutionary trends reflect the demand for
Chinese medical books in the Edo Period, and by extension, the reception
of Chinese medicine.
3.2.2. The frequency of
Now that we have understood the general and categorical evolutionary trends
of the reprints, we can take the Edo Period as a whole, compare the number
of times that individual titles were reprinted with the total number of
titles, and see what characteristics would emerge.
I have tried to establish the number of times that one and the same book,
irrespective of differences in edition, was reprinted through the whole
of the Edo Period, in other words, its reprint frequency (wakoku hindo).
This reprint frequency is obtained by dividing the number of times individual
titles were reprinted (b) by the number of books (a); the result is shown
in Table 6. The resulting average
value is 2.2, i.e., in the course of the Edo Period one Chinese medical
book was on the average reprinted in Japan 2.2 times. The largest deviations
from this average value are the categories Jingui with 5.3, Neijingwith 4.3, and "Smallpox and Measles" with 1.4. All three differ from the
mean value of 2.2 with more than thirty percent, which falls outside the
statistical error margin. The small number of books of the categories JinguiandNeijingwere reprinted time after time, contrary to the category "Smallpox and
Measles." Starting from these characteristics, I will try to analyze the
trends in Japanese reprints.
Within the category Jingui the annotated edition Shenzhu jingui
yaolue was reprinted once in the Middle Period, and another commentary,Jingui
xindian, was reprinted twice in the Late Period. On the other hand,
the plain text Jingui yaolue was printed not less than thirteen
times. However, among the reprints of the plain text there are many printings
of which the year of printing is unclear, or primary and secondary printings
(sen/kôinbon), i.e. printings made during one and the same
year from blocks that circulated between a number of publishers. If we
add these, we come to twenty-five printings of nine different sets of blocks,
of four different books. <9> In the category Jingui we have listed
ten imported titles, but in Japan the plain text itself was best liked.
Within the category Neijing a fey titles were reprinted many times,
clustering in the Early Edo Period. Four of the fourteen titles of this
category were reprinted five times or more, to a total of forty separate
reprints, or 67% of the entire Neijing category. Moreover, these
four books are not plain texts, but annotated texts or books in which part
of the contents has been expanded. Because books of the category Neijingwere regarded as difficult, editions that made the text easy to read were
preferred. This was especially the case in the Early Period, while in the
Middle and Later Periods the demand for such texts decreased. This forms
an interesting contrast with the category Jingui, which also had a high
reprint frequency, but where the plain text was clearly preferred and remained
popular until the end of the Edo Period.
On the contrary, in the category "Smallpox and Measles," which had
a low reprint frequency, the text among the twenty-four titles that was
most often reprinted was Douzhen huoyou xinfa, to a total of five
times. Then there were three texts that were reprinted twice, and all the
others were reprinted only once. In other words, the various books on smallpox
and measles were reprinted, but only one if them managed to some extent
to become a popular text. A similar trend can also be observed in the recording
frequency of imported books of this category. The reason why the various
titles of this category "Smallpox and Measles" were imported one after
the other, and the reason why we find the above trend in the Japanese reprints
are the same, i.e., that smallpox and measles were illnesses that were
lethal and difficult to cure and, secondly, that there were no classics
in this category. Ignoring the evolutionary trend, we can conclude that
in regard to the books of the category "Smallpox and Measles" the conditions
were identical for the Chinese printings and Japanese reprints.
4. A Comparative Investigation of Chinese
Medical Books and Japanese Reprints
4. 1. Evolution: Trends
in reception and the Japanization of Medicine
The above results show that numbers of imported Chinese medical books continued
to move within certain quantitative boundaries. On the other hand, the
number of Japanese reprints undoubtedly decreased in response to a decline
in demand. Why did demand decline?
The first answer that comes to mind is that it had to do with the Japanization
of traditional medicine. This could be proven by reference to the Japanese
Ancient School (Kohôha), which rose under the stimulus of
the Shanghan lun boom of the early Qing, and to Japanese botany,
that developed from a study of Bencao gangmu into the study of local
specialties, local products, and natural history.
Nagoya Gen'i (1628-1696) is considered as the first representative of theKohôSchool. In the order of their first appearance, his writings were published
in 1672, 1684, 1688 and 1697. When we apply these data to Graph2,
they correspond nicely to a period in which less reprints were made of
Chinese medical books after the first, great peak had been reached. Clearly,
a close connection existed between the mood of the age in which he was
active, and the decrease in making Japanese reprints.
In the Middle Period the Kohô School was continued by Gotô
Konzan (1659-1733), Kagawa Shûan (1683-1755) and Yamawaki Tôyô
(1705-1762). When we come to Yoshimasu Tôdô (1702-1773), who
denied a major part of the Chinese medical system and promoted a restoration
of ancient Japanese practices, the Kohô School exerted an
intense influence on the whole of Japan. Due to this influence of the KohôSchool, in the Middle Period the demand for Chinese medical books diminished;
the reduction of Japanese reprints, too, is quite possibly due to the same
The next question is, whether it would it be possible to find fluctuations
also in the printing of medical books by Japanese authors, that would correspond
to the decrease in Japanese reprints. This I have tried to investigate
in Table 7, in which I have arranged
books on botany, local specialties, local products, and natural history
in the order of the year in which they were finished respectively published
for the first time. In the Early Period thirty-eight books were printed,
in the Middle Period seventy-nine, and in the Late Period 143. When, on
the other hand, we take in Table
5 the category "Botany (bencao)" under the Japanese reprints,
we find twenty-four printings in the Early Period, fourteen in the Middle
Period, and fifteen in the Late Period; in other words, the reprints cluster
in the Early Period. It is clear that the two are inversely related. As
a result of progressive Japanization the printing of Japanese books increased,
while the demand of Chinese books diminished.
There was, however, a small peak of Japanese reprints in the period from
1791 till 1800. Why did the number of reprints go up in this decade, against
the downward trend that we find for the Late period as a whole? In order
to answer this question I have compared the great peak in the Early and
the small peak in the Late Period from the angle of the year in which the
Chinese books that were reprinted had originated. The result is shown inTable
8. It turns out that 38% of the great peak are reprints of books from
the Jin and Yuan Dynasties, against only 15% of the second peak. Furthermore,
it we divide the books into two periods (Han to Song, and Jin/Yuan to Ming/Qing),
then the ratio is 21% against 79% of the great peak, and 28 % tot 72% of
the small peak. In other words, at the time of the small peak of the Late
Period the ratio of books from Song and earlier was somewhat on the increase,
while the ratio of books from Jin and Yuan had gone down appreciably. It
looks as if there was a trend to go back towards the pre-Song era.
Furthermore, in connection with this trend, ans. with the Japanization
of medicine, I have also paid attention to the books of the category Shanghanof the Ming and Qing dynasties. There we do not find one single Japanese
reprint at the time of the large peak, but during the small peak books
of this category from the Qing dynasty were reprinted five times in all.
Our interpretation is, that the small peak was chiefly occasioned by such
restorationist tendencies and was shaped by the demand for books from the
Song dynasty and before, and for books from the Qing in the category Shanghan.
4.2. The degree and period
of dissemination: the ratio of Japanese reprints and the dissemination
Now that in outline the number of titles and the frequency both of the
import of Chinese books and of Japanese reprints have been clarified for
the various categories, it has also become possible to show the frequency
and ratio of Japanese reprints per period (Table
5). If we analyze these, we will understand per category the trends
in demand, the degree of dissemination, and the period.
An indication regarding the trends in demand can be garnered from the rate
with which imported books were reprinted; this rate can be obtained by
dividing the number of reprinted titles (b) by the number of imported titles
(a). An indication of the degree of dissemination can be obtained by multiplying
the frequency of Japanese reprints by the rate of reprinting. This is the
same value as is obtained by dividing the number of reprintings (c) by
the number of imported titles, and signifies the number of Japanese reprintings
per one imported title. This we call the dissemination index; it is shown,
together with the reprint rate, in Table
The over-all value of the reprint rate is 39%, i.e., 39% of the imported
Chinese medical books were in such a demand that they were reprinted. However,
both the import figures and the reprint figures are not more than indicative
figures that depend on the availability of usable records. If for this
reason we decide to allow for a error margin of max. 30%, the over-all
value comes to lie within the range for 39± (39×0.3=) 27.3%
to 50.7%. In those categories that lie outside this range (Acupuncture
and Moxibustion: 93%; Smallpox and Measles: 65%, Neijing: 56%) there
seems to have existed a brisk demand. On the other hand, the over-all value
of the dissemination index is 0.9, i.e., per imported title we have 0.9
reprintings. If, again, we assume an error margin of 30%, the over-all
value comes to lie in the range of 0.6 to 1.1. Outside this average value
fall the categories Jingui (1.6), Neijing (2.4) and "Acupuncture
and Moxibustion" (2.6). Since these indexes are higher than the average
value, we know that the degree of dissemination of the Japanese reprints
I have considered the trends in demand, the degree of dissemination, and
the period of the Japanese reprints for those categories who showed clearly
higher values for rate of reprint and dissemination index, i.e. the categoriesJingui,
"Smallpox and Measles," Neijing, and "Acupuncture and Moxibustion;
I have used the figures in Table
Within the category Jingui the plain text Jingui yaolue was
printed thirteen times; hence, its reprint frequency was as high as 5.3
and its dissemination index as large as 1.6. In this category there was
a demand for the plain text, and this was the title that was printed, especially
in the Late Period, and spread. The reason is that in the Middle Period,
on account of the rise of the Kohô School, the Shanghan
lun was popular, and that in the Late Period the demand for titles
of the category Jingui (like the Shanghan lun a work by Zhang
Ji) increased. At that time Japanization was already in progress and more
and more studies by Japanese authors were being printed. <10> Our understanding
is that the major part of the demand was therefore for the plain text Jingui
The reprint rate of the category "Smallpox and Measles" is high, but because
the reprint frequency is low, the dissemination index does not differ materially
from the average value. Since, moreover, most reprints were made in the
Middle and Late Periods, both demand for, and reprints of the books of
this category clustered in the Middle and Late Periods, but the books clearly
did not spread because the great majority of them was reprinted only once.
Smallpox and Measles were difficult to treat; therefore the knowledge of
the most recent books was sought after, and people quickly tired of the
The categories Neijing and "Acupuncture and Moxibustion" have both
a high reprint rate and a high dissemination index. In the category Neijingthe cause is the high number of reprintings per title, i.e., the high reprint
frequency. In the category "Acupuncture and Moxibustion" the cause is the
high rate of reprint: of the fifteen imported titles fourteen were reprinted.
Moreover, the reprints in both categories cluster in the Early Period.
For both categories, demand was high in the Early Period, and in this period
books of these categories were disseminated widely. For the Japanese of
the early Edo Period Acupuncture and Moxibustion were technically complicated,
and the category Neijing was difficult to understand; hence, many
Chinese books were required. In the Middle and Late Periods, these difficulties
had been overcome; hence, both demand and dissemination declined rapidly.
4.3. The speed of dissemination:
The gap between year of import and year of reprint.
I have investigated the gap between the year in which books were reprinted,
and the year in which they were imported for the categories Neijingand "Acupuncture and Moxibustion," of which demand and dissemination were
concentrated in the Early Edo Period. The idea was to establish the date
of publication of the Chinese original, the first record of its import
in Japan, and the first Japanese reprinting, of all Chinese medical books
of which a first Japanese reprint appeared after 1600 and to assess the
speed of dissemination on the basis of the gaps between these three. The
nine books of which the year of the first Japanese reprint was known, end
of which the year in which the Chinese original was printed or the year
in which it was imported could at least be inferred are shown in table
10 in the order of the first printing.
As is shown in Table 10, the
first books to be printed in the categoryNeijing were the annotated
editionsNanjing benyi, Suwen zhuzheng fawei, and Suwen rushi
yunqilun ao. Single editions of the classical textsSuwen, Lingsu,
andNanjing themselves appeared later. The same applies to the category
"Acupuncture and Moxibustion." In those days, as nowadays, there were no
people who read the original texts straight from the beginning. Table
10 graphically illustrates the historical fact that only after the
annotated editions had spread a demand arose for the plain-text editions.
How about the gap between the year in which the Chinese original was imported
or printed and the year in which the Japanese reprint was made? As we have
already said, all import records for the year 1604 depend on Hayashi Razan's
"List of Books Already Read" <4>; since in this list we find the annotated
edition Suwen zhuzheng fawei, we have a first record to determine
the year of import. It is possible that the book was imported before that
year, but be that as it may, it was reprinted a mere four years after our
year of first import, 1604. The presumed Chinese original was undoubtedly
printed in 1586, <11> so twenty-two years passed till the Japanese reprint
On the other hand, the first Japanese reprint of the plain text of Suwen
was made in the Genna era (1615-1624), while the Chinese original was printed
in 1584. <12> It is unclear in which year it was imported, but between
the Chinese printing and the Japanese reprint lie thirty-one to forty years.
Of the Jiayi jing, reprinted in 1648, too, we do not know the year
in which the original was imported, but we do know that this Chinese original
was printed in 1601. <13> In other words, there was a gap of forty-seven
years between the Chinese printing and the Japanese reprint.
As shown above, the gap in printing dates between the Chinese originals
and the Japanese reprints was twenty-two years for annotated editions and
commentaries, and thirty- one to forty-seven years for plain-text editions.
Apparently, commentaries were reprinted within fewer years than plain texts.
If we look at Table 10 in
the light of this conclusion, we notice that also in Razan's list of books
that by 1604 he had personally read, the commen-taries Nanjing benyiandSuwen rushi yunqilun ao were reprinted resp. Three and seven
years later, while the plain text Lingsuhad to wait fifty-six years.
It is difficult to assume that there was a great time lag between annotated
editions and plain-text editions in regard to the period from printing
in China to export to Japan. If we go by the results of our earlier inquiries,
we must conclude that the plain-text editions and the annotated editions
were imported approx. at the same time, but that there was no demand for
Japanese reprints of the difficult plain texts, and that the reprints began
with the annotated editions. It undoubtedly is the case that only later,
after people had "graduated" from the annotated editions, a demand for
the plain texts arose and Japanese reprints started to appear.
As Table 10 shows, in the
categoriesNeijing and "Acupuncture and Moxibustion" complete sets
of the plain-text editions of the classical, canonical works did not appear
until the 1660-s; in the preceding period, we only find annotated editions.
In other words, forty to fifty years of annotations and commentaries before
a need arose for the plain texts themselves seems to have been the general
trend in the Early Edo Period.
Next, I tried to investigate the gap between the first record of import
and the first Japanese reprint for Chinese medical books as a whole. The
books for which this gap was ten years or less are tabulated in Table
11. A brief look at this Table will show that the reprints are heavily
concentrated in the Early Period. Half of the reprints appeared in this
period; the demand for Chinese medical books was high, and the gap between
import and printing was correspondingly short. The speed of dissemination
was high, but even though demand was strong, this did not mean that imported
books were indiscriminately reprinted.
The collection Zhongjing quanshu was reprinted seven years after
it was imported. Under the four books that were included in the Chinese
edition, we find the plain text Songban Shanghan lun and the annotated
edition Zhujie Shanghan lun. Because there were differences between
these two editions in the rendering of the canonical text itself, and also
because after Zhujie Shanghan lun many other annotated editions
had been made by famous scholars, the Japanese reprint of Zhongjing
quanshu adds a Jizhu Shanghan lun ('Collected Commentaries onShanghan
lun"), in which all available commentaries were assembled, while on
the other hand Songban Shanghan lun and Zhujie Shanghan lunare removed. Thus, it consists of three works. Moreover, in top notes,
which are original to the Japanese reprint, the differences between the
canonical text as contained in Jizhu Shanghan lun and the Songban
Shanghan lun are indicated. <14> To this extent Zhongjing quanshuwas "Japanized."
In order to answer the question, how long it took for Japanese reprints
to appear, I have taken the 199 titles which, on the strength of the identity
in title in the import record and of the reprint, I take to be identical,
and I have subtracted the year of import from the year in which the first
reprint appeared. The resulting figures are shown in Table
12, divided in fifty-year periods and distributed over the Early, Middle,
and Late Periods; it also includes those cases in which we have a negative
figure because the reprint appeared before the import was first recorded.
The over-all figures for the three periods are 50%, 30%, and 20%, which
is in line with Table 5, and
reflects the general trend.
In the Early Period, 56% of the reprints were made within zero to fifty
years from the year of import; in the Middle Period, this figures goes
down to 41%, and in the Late Period it drops to 27%. This result confirms
that the speed of dissemination of Chinese medical books, i.e., the number
of years from import to reprint, was highest in early Edo. On the other
hand, in the Late Period books were reprinted that had been imported 151
to 200 years before. It is an interesting question why those books, for
which no demand had existed for such a long time, were reprinted in the
Late Period. Four of these books were made during the Song and Jin dynasties;
hence, they could be called semi-classics. In the evolutionary trends in
Japanese reprints, that we charted above, we found a tendency towards the
more ancient texts in the small peak of the Late Period. Hence, it is beyond
doubt that the fact that books were reprinted 150 years or more after their
import was recorded, is related to this tendency of the Late Period.
Ueno <15>, who has confronted the Chinese medical books in the Naikaku
Bunko ("Cabinet Library") with the import records, reports that approx.
40% arrived in Japan within fifty years of the year in which they were
printed. As is shown in Table
12, 46% was reprinted in Japan within fifty years of their year
of import. From these two calculations, the reader will be able to deduce
the speed of transmission, and also the speed and extent of their dissemination
during the Edo Period.
4.4. Characteristics of
the most widely disseminated books, i.e. the books that score highest in
terms of number of imports and of reprints
Books that were frequently reprinted have also a large measure of dissemination.
The top ten are listen in Table
13. Moreover, by way of comparison, I have listed the number of Chinese
printings, the period of origin, the number of fascicles, and the number
of recorded imports (distributed over the Early, Middle, and Late Periods)
of each of the top ten titles in the import records. The first thing that
strikes one is, that there is not one single case in which the titles of
the reprinted and the imported books correspond. What could be the reason?
The top ten titles in the import records are all titles that were popular
in China, and that had been reprinted ten times or more before or under
the Qing dynasty. For that reason most of the titles date from periods
that overlap with the Edo Period (five from the Ming, four from the Qing,
and only one from the Tang). Books that were regularly reprinted in China
would stand a better chance to be freighted on Chinese merchantrmen and
to be brought to Japan. Another interesting thing is that all of these
books count more than ten fascicles; most of them count approx. fifty fascicles,
but the Xueshi yi-an, that contains twenty-four texts, counts 107
fascicles in all. Because these books were so bulky, it was possible to
sell them all at once and make a good price. The Chinese merchants tended
to select such books and to take them to Japan in large numbers. In our
earlier investigations of the various trends and tendencies in book imports
we had already noted that some aspects of the trade might reflect Chinese
conditions, rather than Japanese demand. These two points, i.e. the popularity
in China and the number of fascicles of a given book, go a long way toward
explaining these conditions.
By contrast, the top ten titles of the Japanese reprints, that were the
bestsellers of the Edo Period, count as a rule one to three fascicles.
The only exceptions are Shanghan lun (10 fascicles) and Wanbing
huichun (8 fascicles). However, the canonical text contained in the
ten fascicles of Shanghan lun is only one third as long as Wanbing
huichun. Jingui yaolue, too, counts three fascicles, but the length
of its canonical text is approx. one eighth of Wanbing huichun.
In other words, with the exception of Wanbing huichun, all Edo bestsellers
were thin books. Therefore even persons who had difficulty reading Chinese
could easily peruse them, <17> and the reason why they were reprinted
ten times of more will undoubtedly have been that they were read much.
The period during which the originals of the top ten Japanese reprints
were made, is longer than the period in which the imported books originated;
yet, the list does not contain one single book of the Qing. The popularity
of a reprint had nothing to do with the popularity or novelty of the original
text in China, but was the result of a specifically Japanese selection
Among the top ten reprints the only plain-text editions of classical texts
are Zhang Zhongjing's Shanghan lun and Jingui yaolue of both,
the number of reprints increased rapidly from the Middle Period onwards.
The last Chinese printing of a plain-text edition of Shanghan lunwas made in 1599, and of Jingui yaolue in 1624. Between these dates
and the end of the Qing dynasty, when the Japanese reprints of these two
texts became popular in China and were reprinted, not one Chinese printing
was made. The popularity of these two plain-text editions from the Middle
Period onward is a typically Japanese phenomenon. The other eight reprints
are concentrated in the Early Period and from the Middle Period onward
they are less frequently reprinted, which could be interpreted as a clear
indication of the restoration of Zhongjing medicine and the process of
Japanification. Wanbing huichun, which was popular notwithstanding
its great number of fascicles, was reprinted eighteen times, but it is
possible that actually it was reprinted thirty times. <18> In China
twenty-two versions were printed, <16> but in the import records the
book is mentioned only five times between 1638 and 1763. <1> In the
Early Edo period Wanbing huichun enjoyed greater popularity in Japan
than in China. In other words, in the Early Period Wanbing huichunwas popular, and in the Middle and later Periods plain-text editions of
Zhang Zhongjing's medical books were at the center of popularity.
4.5. The Japanization
of Chinese Medical Books: Excerpts and Re-arrangements.
As I have already pointed out, the first Japanese reprint to appear in
the Early Edo Period of Zhongjing quanshu was a re-arrangement of
the Chinese printed edition, adapted to Japanese conditions. There is a
fairly large number of similar instances.
The first edition of Ihô taiseiron, which was reprinted twenty-six
times, appeared in 1596. It is a Chinese text, Yishu daquan (24
fascicles) that was excerpted and edited by Japanese and that went through
thirty-seven printings, adding the undated printings to those of which
the year is known. <19> Honzô jorei (l fascicle), that
was also first printed in 1596, is an excerpt of the first and part of
the second fascicle of Zhenghe bencao (30 fascicles), to which the
introduction of Daguan bencao (31 fascicles) has been added. This
text, too, was edited by Japanese, and went through eight printings in
the course of the Edo Period. Igaku seiden wakumon (l fascicle),
reprinted ten times, is a similar case; it is an excerpt containing the
first fascicle, Yixue huowen, of the book Yixue zhengzhuan(8 fascicles). From Jingyue quanshu (64 fascicles) a number of excerpts
were made and (re) printed, namely Zhang Jingyue xinfanghui (1 fascicle),Qingxuan
youke liangfang (1 fascicle), Qingxuan zhili shenshu (3 fascicles),Zhang-shi
zhinie biyu (2 fascicles), Zhang Jingyue shanghan lun (3 fascicles),
and Zhongzhang quanshu and Zhongzhang yaoyue (1 volume each).
Please note that all the above mentioned excerpts and re-arrangements count
three fascicles or less.
Plain-text editions of a canonical text that has been excerpted from the
annotated edition, seem to be a peculiarly Japanese development. <20><21> The first seems to have been the plain-text edition of Nanjing,
that was published in 1660 (see Table
10); the text used as the basis for this edition was Nanjing penyi.
Lingsu, Suwen, and Shanghan lun, that were published around
the same time, are also plain-text editions;Shanghan lun has been
excerpted from Zhujie Shanghan lun. It goes without saying that
all these editions are shortened in comparison to the texts on the basis
of which they were made. The most ingenious texts of this nature are Suwenand Lingsu (9 fascicles each), which consist of the canonical texts
that Ukai Sekisai (1615-1664) excerpted from Leijing (42 fascicles)
and rearranged. <20> These Suwen and Lingsu have the chapter
headings of Leijing printed in the margin at the top of the page;
hence, they seem to have been intended to be compared with the reprint
There are also single books taken out of collections. For instance, the
canonical text of Songban Shanghan lun that was expunged from the
Japanese reprint of Zhongjing quanshu, was reprinted in four separate
printings. <14> Such phenomena did not occur in contemporary China.
The popularity of the plain-text editions of Shanghan lun and Jingui
yaolue will have been part of a more general predilection in the Middle
and Late Edo period for the medical works of Zhang Zhongjing. A similar
case is the Shanghan lun zhu (15 fascicles) that in the Late Edo
Period was lifted out of Yizong jinjian (92 fascicles) and reprinted
thrice. Another case is Youke zhongdou xinfa (16 fascicles), that
was also lifted out of Yizong jinjian and was reprinted.
These are all examples of titles that were excerpted from large books,
re-arranged, and reprinted as small books. This went on throughout the
Edo Period. The main aim will have been to sell those parts of books that
the Japanese would be interested in and would be able to read. We should
not overlook, however, that a typically Japanese liking for miniaturization
was also at work here, and that Japan in this differed from China, where
it were the large books that became the bestsellers.
In the preceding pages we have reflected, both in historical and in quantitative
terms, on the Chinese medical books that were imported during the 270 years
of the Edo Period and their Japanese reprints, and about the way in which
these books were received in society as a whole. The results can be summarized
1. In the import records of Chinese medical books, 804 titles are
mentioned 1917 times. If we look at chronological developments over ten-year
periods, the average is 60 to 110 references, but in two twenty-year periods
(1711-1730 in the Middle Period, and 1831-1850 in the Late Period) there
were peaks. Especially the canonical text and a small number of annotated
editions in the category Neijing were frequently imported, followed
by various books of the category "Smallpox and Measles" that were successively
brought to Japan. We have found that at the back of such tendencies lies
the phenomenon that Chinese ship owners brought great quantities of books
that were popular in China and that, thanks to their volume, would fetch
a high price.
2. Japanese reprints were made of 314 different Chinese medical books,
to a total of 679 times. Chronologically speaking, approx. half of the
Japanese reprintings was made in the Early Period, before 1690; numbers
rapidly decrease in the Middle Period, and again in the late Period. This
phenomenon will reflect the circumstance that from the Middle Period onwards
medicine was Japanized and more and more Japanese medical books were printed,
while the demand for Chinese books decreased. Because this involved in
some respects also the restoration of Zhongjing's school of medicine, we
find that in the Middle and Late Periods books by Zhongjing were popular,
instead of Wanbing huichun that enjoyed great popularity in the
Early Period. In the Late period reprints of books from Song and earlier,
and of books of the category Shanghan somewhat increased, but this
did not influence the over-all downward trend.
3. When we make a breakdown by category, we see that books of the
categories Neijing and "Acupuncture and Moxibustion" were disseminated
especially in the Early period. The reason was, that for the Japanese of
those days, Acupuncture and Moxibustion presented technical difficulties,
while Neijing texts were difficult to understand. For the same reason,
it took forty to fifty years after the annotated editions and commentaries
had spread before Japanese reprints were being made of the plain text.
In the Middle Period the difficulties had been overcome, and both the demand
and the dissemination of the books of these two categories rapidly decreased.
On the other hand, there was a demand for plain-text editions of books
of the category Jingui, and these spread in the Late Period. In
the Middle and Late Periods there was also a demand for books of the category
"Smallpox and Measles," but the degree of dissemination of individual titles
4. All in all, approx. 40% of the imported titles was eventually
reprinted, which argues an active reception of Chinese medicine. Of the
books that were reprinted, as high a percentage as 46% was reprinted within
fifty years; the time lag from import to reprint was shortest in the Early
Edo Period. From the beginning of the Edo Period onwards, bestsellers among
the Japanese reprints were thin books of three fascicles or less. Popularity
in China or newness of the books was an irrelevant factor for popularity
in Japan. Throughout the Edo Period we also find Japanese reprints that
were excerpts of large Chinese works that were re-arranged into small books.
Here we saw a typically Japanese liking for miniaturization at work, in
which respect Japan differed from China, where large books did become bestsellers.
These same factors were also at the bottom of the popularity of Zhongjing's
medical works from the Middle Period onward.
5. Throughout the Edo period, Japan thus displayed an original point
of view in the reception of Chinese medical books and Chinese medicine,
and at the same time changed them into something more typically Japanese.
NOTES:<1> Mayanagi Makoto
& Tomobe Kazuhiro, "Chûgoku iseki torai nendai sômokuroku
(Edo-ki),"Kokusai Nihon Bunka Kenkyû Sentaa Kiyô: Nihon
Kenkyû 7 (1992, 9), pp. 151-183.
<2> Kosoto Hiroshi,
Seki Nobuyuki, Kurihara Mariko, "Wakokubon Kanseki isho shuppan sôgô
nenpyô,"Nihon Ishigaku Zasshi 36, 4 (1990, 10), pp. 459-494.
<3> Ôba Osamu,Edo
jidai ni okeru Chûgoku bunka juyô no kenkyû (Kyoto:
Dôhôsha Shuppan, 1984), pp. 57-59, 187, 193.
<4> Hayashi Shunsai,
"Razan-sensei Nenpyô" in: Kokuritsu Kôbunsyokan Naikaku Bunko
zô Razan-sensei shû App. 1 (1661), pp. 27-28.
<5> Ôba Osamu,
"Tôhoku Daigaku Kanô Bunko Kazô no O-bunko Mokuroku,"Kansai
Daigaku Tôzai Gakujutsu Kenkyû Kiyô 3 (1970), pp.
9-90. For the period before 1639, this catalogue does not record the year
in which a given book was entered into the shogunal library; in these cases
we have consistently taken 1638 as the year of import.
Bunka Juyô, p. 23.
Bunka Juyô, p. 190.
Bunka Juyô, p. 282-284.
<9> Mayanagi Makoto,
"Nihon Kanpô o tsuchikatta Chûgoku isho (6)," Kanpô
to Chûigaku 11, 3 (1989,9).
<10> When looks
up the sectionJingui in Zôhoban Kokusho sômokuroku(Tokyo: Iwanami
Shoten, 1989) one
finds two printed Japanese studies of Jingui yaolue for the period
from 1601 till 1690, five for the period from 1691 till 1780, and eight
for the period from 1781 till 1870, which shows a clear increase through
<11> Kosoto Hiroshi,
"Min-dai no Chûgoku isho," Gendai Tôyô Igaku 15,2
(1994, 4), pp. 245-252.
<12> Kosoto Hiroshi,Chûgoku
Igaku Koten to Nihon (Tokyo: Hanawa Shobô, 1996), p. 79.
Kôichi, "Jiayijing sôsetsu," Tôyô Igaku
Zenpon Sôsho 8 (Kosoto Hiroshi, ed. Osaka: Tôyô Igaku
Kenkyûkai, 1981), p. 443.
<14> Mayanagi Makoto,
"Zhongjing quanshu kaidai," Wakoku Kanseki Isho ShûseiVol. 16 (Kosoto Hiroshi, Mayanagi Makoto, eds. Tokyo; Entapuraizu, 1992),kaisetsuhenpp. 8-18.
<15> Ueno Masayoshi,
"Edo bakufu Momijiyama Bunko kyûzô Tôhon isho no yunyû
jiki ni tsuite," Shisen 51 (1977), pp. 42-74.
<16> The number
of versions is based on Xie Qinglu et al., Quanguo Zhongyi Tushu Lianhe
Mulu (Peking: Zhongyi Guji Chubanshe, 1991); we have counted all printed
editions up to and including the Qing dynasty, excluding, however, manuscripts,
Japanese reprints, and Chinese reprints of Japanese reprints.
gangmu, though a large work of fifty-two fascicles, was reprinted eight
times or, if we include the printings of which no year is given, thirteen
times (see Watanabe Kôzô, Honzôsho no kenkyû[Osaka:
Takeda Kagaku Shinkô Zaidan, 1987], pp. 136-144. This is a large
work, however, and as far as I have seen copies, at best only the first
ten fascicles show traces of having been read; the majority has only been
<18> Kosoto Hiroshi,
"Wanbing huichun kaidai," Wakoku Kanseki Isho ShûseiVol. 11 (Kosoto Hiroshi, Mayanagi Makoto, eds. Tokyo: Entapuraizu, 1991),kaisetsuhenpp. 1-8.
<19> Kosoto Hiroshi,
"Yifang Dachenglun kaidai," Wakoku Kanseki Isho ShûseiVol. 7 (Kosoto Hiroshi, Mayanagi Makoto, eds. Tokyo: Entapuraizu, 1989),kaisetsuhenpp. 17-25.
<20> Kosoto, Chûgoku
Igaku Koten to Nihon, pp. 81-88.
<21> Mayanagi Makoto,
"Zhujie Shanghan lun kaidai," Wakoku Kanseki Isho Shusei Vol.
16 (Kosoto Hiroshi, Mayanagi Makoto, eds. Tokyo: Entapuraizu, 1992), kaisetsuhenpp.
Note: I would
like to express my deep gratitude to Prof. W.J. Boot for translating this