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January 2022

Acupunct Electrother Res. 1984 ; 9(4): 187-93.

Acupuncture points & use of moxibustion, found in the popular literature & paintings of 17th century Japan.

Omura Y.

Acupuncture and moxibustion have long been an integral part of Far Eastern oriental medicine. Moxibustion and acupuncture cannot be discussed without each other since both use the same acupuncture point locations and nomenclatures. In the late 17th century, the famous travel diary of Basho, a Japanese master of haiku poetry, made reference to personal use of moxibustion on one of the well-known acupuncture points, stomach 36. Recently, the author found 2 paintings of a 17th century Kyoto geisha house and its surroundings in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, painted in realistic color by Moronobu, the originator of the Ukiyoe style and a contemporary of Basho. Part of the scene depicts some professional porters at work; on their legs are white scars at some of the well-known acupuncture points, including stomach 36 and spleen 6. The scars appear to be the result of moxibustion. This may indicate the common use of moxibustion on well-known acupuncture points of the lower extremities in late 17th century Japan for professional porters and for people making extensive journeys. Further support of the relatively widespread use of acupuncture and moxibustion is even found in the popular, non-medical literature of late 17th century Japan. In one of the short stories about the life of average people, written by the novelist Saikaku, the details of a young woman giving moxibustion on the back of a young man is realistically described with illustrations. Reports written by some of the foreign physicians who visited Japan during this period were published, describing these methods with illustrations.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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