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On several occasions in online Reiki discussions, I have heard people repeat the belief that - in the very early years of the 20th Century - the only form of medicine practiced widely in Japan was a system derived from the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) model - that the 'Western' medical model was almost unknown.

Now, while it is certainly true that at an earlier (pre-Meiji) period in Japanese history, the TCM-based system had indeed been the heart of Japanese medical tradition (- it had been so for several centuries), by the early 20th Century, Western Medicine was most definitely well established in Japan.

Japan's Modern Educational System (copyright: Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology )

"The first governmental institute of Western medicine evolved from an immunization center founded in 1858 at Kanda Otamagaike in Edo by Ito Genboku (1801-1871) … This center called the Shutokan came under the direct control of the central government in 1860 … In 1863 it was renamed the Igakujo, and it continued to the end of the Shogunate as the leading center for Western medicine. Following the Meiji Restoration it was re-established by the new government and, with the Kaiseijo, formed the basis of Japan's first modern university."

The Politics of Medicine in Meiji-Taisho Japan (Association for Asian Studies, 2000)

"Beginning in the 1870s, medicine became an important object of governmental policy in Japan, because the achievement of the goal of "Rich Nation, Strong Military" required the production of healthy workers and soldiers.

The new state attempted to exercise control over the health of its citizens with the promulgation of laws and policy statements under the rubric of a "medical policy" that called for a national system of public health and the regulation of medical expertise and acceptable practice.

The Japanese government also authorized the establishment of new institutions - hospitals, asylums, and sanitariums.

At the same time, new forms of public discourse arose that addressed medical issues in popular publications as well as in the new universities."

A Cultural History of Tuberculosis in Modern Japan ( by Mahito Fukuda)

"...The Meiji Restoration introduced western scientific ideas including medical knowledge.
Fundamental change occurred when the decision was made instituting the Isei (Medical System) in 1874 to adopt western medicine as the orthodox approach in the new Meiji regime...."

And, from:
The Usui Reiki Ryoho Hikkei

[in response to the question:] "What do well-known medical practitioners think about it?"

[Usui-sensei himself mentions:]

"The well-known medical practitioners seem fair in their assessments.
Nowadays, western-style physicians are very critical of over-prescription of medicines.
Dr Sen Nagai from Teikoku Medical University said: "As physicians, we know how to diagnose, record and understand illness, but we don't really know how to treat it".
DR Kondo said:"It is arrogant to claim that medical science has made great progress, as it fails to address the psychological/spiritual aspect of the patient. This is its biggest shortcoming."
DR Hara said:"It is wrong to treat humans, possessing spiritual wisdom, like animals. It is my belief that in the future we can expect a great transformation in the therapeutic field."
DR Kuga said:"The fact is that therapists who are not trained physicians have achieved higher levels of success than medical doctors because their therapies take into account the character and personal symptoms of the patient and utilize many different methods of treatment. It would be very narrow-minded for the medical establishment to blindly reject these therapists or attempt to impede their practice." (from the medical journal: 'Japanese Medical News')
Doctors and pharmacists often recognize this fact and come to receive training (in our method)."


It has been estimated that even at the beginning of the Meiji era, somewhere in the region of 19 percent of doctors practiced Western medicine - and they weren't all men, either:

Ine Kusumoto [1827-1903] - daughter of a German doctor, Philipp Franz von Siebold and Taki Kusumoto was one of the first women in Japan to practice Western medicine.

She had her own General Medical Practice and also was an obstetrician…


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