Here the “Gozō Roppu zu” (Human Body Anatomical Chart) “五臓六腑図” in the Sōda collection of the library of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies is examined in light of the religious aspects of medical care from the Middle Ages to the early modern era.
Although the age when the Gozō Roppu drawing was produced is unknown, it is an internal organ chart significantly influenced by the Buddhist perspective of the world. In the drawing, each part of the Aji (阿字), Gorin-tō (five-storied pagoda, 五輪塔), Gozō (five organs) and the elemental compositions of the human body are connected with a corresponding part, which illustrate how Aji influences the human body.
These Aji characters are coded into five colors. The “Five colored Aji characters” are thought to have originated from the Tachikawa sect of Shingon Buddhism. Also, the material has a detailed written description, which is a characteristic of this historical material. From the description, we learn the motivation of the producer of this Gozō Roppu drawing; he intended to become a devoted believer of Yakushi Nyorai (the Buddha of Healing) and hoped to cure sick people. This shows how close the relationship between medical care and religion was. We also learn that many parts of the description were quoted from the Sanken Itchi sho (“三賢一致書”), which is thought to have been created by Dairyū (大龍), a Zen monk. The book might have been ideologically influenced by the Tachikawa sect. In the Gozō Roppu drawing, there are many quotations from the Sanken Itchi sho; thus, we learn that the Tachikawa sect had a certain influence on medicine, and that some medical care was based on religious beliefs.