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The healing arts of the samurai

30/07/2012

I have recently returned from my first (of many, I hope) trip to Japan.  It was my passion for karate that enticed me to visit this country, however I was fortunate to encounter some traditional medicine as I was taking a break from training in the dojo.

We visited the preserved samurai village, Kakunodate.  Here we were guided around one of the most impressive old samurai houses.  The house belongs to the Ishiguru family.  During the time of the samurai, this family obtained the first edition of Japan’s first anatomical text.  The family studied and practiced herbal medicine and acupuncture to treat illness and recover from injury.  The museum displayed their acupuncture needles, herbal medicine preparation tools and medicinal texts.

On returning to Tokyo, I had the opportunity to visit the Nihondo Kampo College.  Kampo is medicine system predominantly focussed on herbs.  It has its basis in Traditional Chinese Medicine but has been adapted by the Japanese to become a unique style of medicine.  Kampo medicines are part of Japan’s national health system.  The Nihondo Kampo college included a small but beautiful herbal medicine museum and many Five Element Theory displays.  (I’ll discuss some of these theories in future blogs.)  Their little shop sold medicinal herbal teas and soup stocks.  I could observe the student practitioners (in their white clinic coats just like in Australia) consulting with their patients and herbal medicines being prepared in their immaculate dispensary.  The college also boasted a vegetarian restaurant with meals cooked for the health of the patient.  Needless to say I was in my element!

These were just two highlights from my trip to Japan.  I look very forward to visiting this wonderful country again.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. 31/07/2012 1:55 pm

    Glad you had a great time in Japan Sarah. I am super jealous and can’t wait to head over there next year. Sounds like they had the right idea when it comes to medicine and diet those great Samurai! Can’t argue against the strengths that they ahieved with their acupuncture and herbal medicine. I wonder if thier anatomical text is still available today.

  2. Melody Ryan permalink
    20/01/2015 7:54 am

    I have a question about the Kampo Museum that you visited. I’ll be taking a group of students there for a study abroad course. Were signs in English or will we need a guide. If the museum supplies a guide, will we also need an interpreter?
    Any light you can shed on this will be appreciated. Thanks!

    • 20/01/2015 8:13 pm

      Hi Melody, it was a Kampo college. Most of the signs had English translations on them. I was lucky that there was someone there who spoke some english when I visited and she was able to show me around. Maybe contact them first? Also check out there restaurant – I didn’t get to go but would have loved to!

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