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Daidoji, Keiko (2009) What a household with sick persons should know : Expressions of body and illness in a medical text of early nineteenth-century Japan. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis assesses the image and expressions of the body and illness in Japan during the Edo period (1603-1867), by examining a text on the cultivation of life, Byoka suchi (What a household with sick persons should know). A unique feature of Byoka suchi is its use of script combining Chinese characters and Japanese readings in the form of furigana. Furigana are conventionally employed to signal the pronunciation of Chinese characters, but the furigana in Byoka suchi function as a means for giving the author's translation into the everyday native language of medical terms which are traditionally written in Chinese characters, which were of originally foreign for Japanese. This thesis particularly scrutinises the gap between the Chinese medical terms and their furigana glosses, as it shows how Chinese medicine was transmitted and imbibed by a Japanese physician in order to facilitate understanding lay readers who had not made a formal study of medicine. The thesis consists of three main parts: The first part reviews the intellectual background of cultivation of life culture in both China and Japan, with reference to some of the relevant insights by previous studies. The second part explores how the author's view of body and illnesses can be reconstructed from a close examination of furigana in the text. The third part is devoted to the translation of the first fascicle of Byoka suchi, which concisely represents the author's basic views on medicine, body and illnesses. The translation with meta-commentary will enable us to appreciate the effect of the Chinese character-furigana combinations, as well as to examine the essence of the physiology, pathology and medical ethics of the text. The principal contribution of this research to the field lies in reassessing how the Edo views of body and illnesses deviated from their Chinese counterparts. As a conceptual study, it will also shed light on the uses of special features of Japanese script in transmitting technical concepts into more colloquial and popular language.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:10

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