Yoshifuji: Record of Splendid Doctors’ Effective Readings (Meii kai no tokuhon mashin no rai-ki)
Artist: Utagawa Yoshifuji
Title: Record of Splendid Doctors’ Effective Readings (Meii kai no tokuhon mashin no rai-ki)
A doctor lectures from a stage in his black haori coat; the audience listens leisurely in a hot room, cooling themselves with their fans. On the left, a Shinto god descends on a cloud. Gakutei Harunobu, an ukiyo-e artist, writes: “When people have to deal with an epidemic, they first worship Shinto gods for help and pray that the epidemic gods of the epidemic devils will calm them down. These epidemics are ‘poison of the sun’, and manifest according to the tendency (energy flow) of a month and a year. Usually an epidemic starts in spring, becomes most active in summer, and remains until cold season. Mononobe-no-Moriya Ômuraji (ca 587), one of the highest officials of the Yamato Imperial Court, was an active anti-Buddhist and destroyed Buddhist statues and temple towers because he believed that the cause of the epidemic in 585 was the result of building Buddhist temple towers and encouraging the Buddhist statue worship by Soga-no-Umako, his arch-enemy.” Further, Gakutei refers to “Shang-han-lun (Shö-kan-ron) in ten volumes by Chang Ch’ung-Ching (Chô Chû kei) in ca. 205, which is the oldest existing book on Chinese medicine. Chang believes that smallpox and measles are epidemics of children. Measles was spread in 737 (Tempyô 9); 790 (Enreki 9); 998 (Chötoku 4); 1650 (Keian 3); 1691 (Genroku 4); 1730 (Kyôhô 15); 1755 (Hôreki 5); 1803 (Kyôwa 3); 1824 (Bunsei 7); 1836 (Tenpô 7), and now in the Bunkyü era (1861-63), about 20-40 years later. For smallpox, people can quickly build shelves for a shrine at home and worship the god for smallpox. However, there is no god for measles. People first pray to the gods and do not take any bitter medicine, and therefore many died.” Gakutei brings up the sayings of Confucius (551-479 BC) and his pupil. People should offer prayers to Shintô miko maidens and Buddhist monks and treat illness with medicine. Further, Gakutei quotes from “Ryûsei-Shû” by Sakakibara Kôshû (1656-1706). Gakutei closes his writing by saying that Japan and China seem to have similarities. A poem by Chû follows. Then follows the list of food which is helpful for measles; soybeans, ginger, radish, carrot, shaved dried bonito, shiitake mushrooms, seaweed, lily root, yam, etc. Furthermore, instructions on what to do and what not to do are described.
Signature: Yoshifuji ga