Zen Nihon Shinkyu Gakkai zasshi (Journal of the Japan Society of Acupuncture and Moxibustion)
Online ISSN : 1882-661X
Print ISSN : 0285-9955
Special Articles Concerning the Tokyo Declaration
History of Japanese Acupuncture and Moxibustion
Shuichi KATAI
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2012 Volume 62 Issue 1 Pages 12-28


The birth of Oriental Medicine, including Acupuncture and Moxibustion, is attributed to Chinese civilization and is thought to have occurred in the Yellow River valley 2000 years ago. The contributing factors establishing Oriental medicine included the development of city-states designed to unite the country under a single authority. The governors of these city-states wisely designed policies to make the health of the people a top priority.
In the middle of the 6th century Acupuncture and Moxibustion spread into Japan. From the enactment of the "Taiho Code"(701 AD) until the promulgation of the "Modern Medical System"(1878) these modalities were recognized as the National Medicine of Japan.
During the Nara and Heian period (8-12 c), Japanese practitioners mainly accepted and learned the Chinese style of acupuncture and moxibustion. After the Kamakura period (13-14 c), during the Muromachi and Azuchi Momoyama periods (15-16 c), and into the Edo period (17-19 c), the original character of Japanese-style acupuncture and moxibustion began to develop unique characteristics.
Here, I have to specifically mention that a Portuguese ship arrived at Tanegashima Island in 1543, after which the cultures of Spain and the Netherlands influenced Japanese culture. Of course these foreign influences spread to the field of Acupuncture and Moxibustion.
During the Edo period, Japan closed its borders to foreign influences. During this time Japan traded only with China, Korea and the Netherlands. These trade routes, the merchandise, and exchange of information did not directly or immediately influence Japan, but they did play an important role in future cultural trends. Especially in the medical field, through trade with China, and Korea, Japan continued to accept information about Oriental Medicine. Likewise, through trade with the Netherlands, Western medical innovation gradually became popular.
In this way, Japan received the latest medical information from the forerunners of the world's medicine of that period. Naturally, the use of both traditional and modern modalities increases. As a result, Japanese Acupuncture and Moxibustion practitioners deepened their knowledge of classic texts, and made good use of the information from China and Korea. Significant innovations of this period include the concept of inserting acupuncture needles through a guide tube, more thorough abdominal diagnoses according to Chinese theories, and increasing acceptance of Western medicine theories. During the Edo period, developments in Japanese Acupuncture and Moxibustion would sustain the progress of these medical fields up to and into the Meiji era.
These developments included changes in the medical system, education, and research of Japanese acupuncture and moxibustion.

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© 2012 The Japan Society of Acupuncture and Moxibustion
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