Dutch influence on Japanese neuroanatomy in the eighteenth century: from Johann Adam Kulm's Ontleedkundige tafelen to Gempaku Sugita's Kaitai Shinsho

Régis Olry1 and Kaoru Motomiya2
1University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières, Canada, and 2University of Tokyo, Japan

The importance of the Kaitai Shinsho in the history of anatomy in Japan is comparable to the one of Vesalius' treatise in Western medicine. The Dutch edition (1734) of Johann Adam Kulm's Anatomische Tabellen was translated with commentary in 1774 by Gempaku Sugita, and prefaced by Kougyu Yoshio. The frontispiece was taken from Valverde's Anatome corporis humani (1589) with minor modifications. The illustrations of the Kaitai Shinsho, drawn by Naotake Odano, were taken from some celebrated authors, and include many plates of the skull, the meninges, the brain, the spinal cord and the peripheral nervous system. For the translation of the text and the legends to the plates, Gempaku Sugita decided to use Chinese language, so that his book could have a more widespread influence. However, many new Japanese words were created for structures that had no name, neither in Chinese, nor in Japanese (for example the term "shinkei" meaning "nerve"). The publication of the Kaitai Shinsho therefore compelled Japanese neuroanatomy to take European tradition in morphological sciences into account. Though some previous Chinese books outlined neuroanatomical knowledge (the Butsuri shoushiki of 1648 for example), and some other Western medical books were translated into Japanese (Johannes Remmelin, Johan Palfyn), the Kaitai Shinsho has to be regarded as a landmark in the history of neuroanatomy in Japan. This study aims at analysing the influence of Western anatomy on Japanese neuroanatomy and its terminology.


Session II
Friday, 20 June 1997, 10.40 - 11.00

Second Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN) and 6th Meeting of the European Club on the History of Neurology (ECHN)

Leiden, The Netherlands