13m 58s

Book on Western anatomy (Kaitai Shinsho 解体新書)

The Magic of Japanese Masterpieces

Broadcast on October 1, 2015 Available until March 31, 2029

The story this time takes us back to late eighteenth century Edo, the city now known as Tokyo, where a group of doctors obtained a book written in Dutch. The information it contained about the inside of the human body differed greatly from the received image passed down in Japan from ancient Chinese medicine. The doctors were astonished and confirmed the accuracy of the illustrations by actual dissections. They then resolved to translate the book from the Dutch. It felt like “setting out on the ocean in a boat with neither oars nor rudder”. The five-volume work, Kaitai Shinsho – New Writings on Anatomy, was completed in three and a half years. It was the first book of Western anatomy to be widely read in Japan. This program traces their ardent struggle for new knowledge in an era when contact with the outside world was tightly controlled. This all happened nearly a century before Japan opened its doors to the world.


Program Outline