|Year : 2018 | Volume
| Issue : 3 | Page : 112-115
Historical figures promoting the communication of Ben Cao Gang Mu (《本草纲目》Compendium of Materia Medica) in Japan
Institute of Science and Humanities, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai, China
|Date of Web Publication||8-Jan-2019|
Dr. Min Zhou
Institute of Science and Humanities, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Ben Cao Gang Mu (《本草纲目》 Compendium of Materia Medica) written by Li Shizhen (李时珍) was first introduced to Japan in the early 17th century and played an important role in the development of Japanese Material Medica and natural history in the Edo period. Tokugawa Ieyasu (德川家康), a shogun general, and Hayashi Razan (林罗山), a famous Confucianist in the Edo period, first recommended Ben Cao Gang Mu in Japan. Then, there emerged more scholars at herbal medicine in Japan who studied and taught Ben Cao Gang Mu through family teaching and master-apprenticeship training. Among them, the work of scholars such as Kaibara Ekiken (贝原益轩), Okamoto Ippou (冈本一抱), Matsuoka Gentatsu (松冈玄达), Ono Ranzan (小野蘭山), Iwasaki Kan-en (岩崎灌园), and Maeda Toshiyasu (前田利保) is of great significance to promote the wide communication and acceptance of Ben Cao Gang Mu in the Edo period in Japan. The rise of the Ben Cao Gang Mu in Japan fueled the development of Japanese herbal science and natural history to a new level.
Keywords: Ben Cao Gang Mu (《本草纲目》Compendium of Materia Medica), characters, communication, Edo period
|How to cite this article:|
Zhou M. Historical figures promoting the communication of Ben Cao Gang Mu (《本草纲目》Compendium of Materia Medica) in Japan. Chin Med Cult 2018;1:112-5
|How to cite this URL:|
Zhou M. Historical figures promoting the communication of Ben Cao Gang Mu (《本草纲目》Compendium of Materia Medica) in Japan. Chin Med Cult [serial online] 2018 [cited 2019 Jan 23];1:112-5. Available from: http://www.cmaconweb.org/text.asp?2018/1/3/112/249588
Li Shizhen's Ben Cao Gang Mu (《本草纲目》Compendium of Materia Medica) was first published in 1593. It was spread to Japan at the beginning of the Edo period (before 1604) and was immediately highly valued by the Japanese medical community. During the 264 years of the Edo period (1603–1867), a group of famous scholars made great efforts to recommend, translate, publish, teach, and explain Ben Cao Gang Mu. Besides, they also used this book to guide field investigation, identification, and plantation of herbs recorded in the book and wrote a number of books about herbal medicine. Influenced by Ben Cao Gang Mu, the development of Japanese Materia Medica ushered in a new era.
| Hayashi Razan (林罗山) – Discovered Ben Cao Gang Mu|| |
After Ben Cao Gang Mu came out in China for less than a decade, it was carried to Nagasaki (长崎), a Japanese trading port, by merchant ships. Hayashi Razan, a famous Japanese scholar, saw the book before 1604.
Hayashi Razan is a key figure in boosting the spread of Ben Cao Gang Mu in Japan. After Hayashi Razan bought the book in 1607, he immediately realized its academic value and importance for the cultivation and production of Japanese herbs.
Hayashi Razan (1583-1657) [Figure 1] was a member of the think tank of Tokugawa (德川) Bakufu. In 1608, he was officially appointed as the “Royal Confucianist” and was responsible for teaching Confucianism and history which includes Ben Cao Gang Mu. Great importance was attached to the book because of his recommendation. Since then, Japanese have gradually shifted the focus of herbal research from Zheng Lei Ben Cao (《证类本草》Classified Materia Medica) to Ben Cao Gang Mu.
| Kaibara Ekiken (贝原益轩) – Published Ben Cao Gang Mu|| |
Japan's demand for the book had increased with the spread of Ben Cao Gang Mu. Merely relying on the introduction of the original Chinese version could no longer meet the needs of Japanese people, so Japan began to publish the book on its own. Under the leadership and promotion of famous scholars such as Matsushita Kenrin (松下见林), Kaibara Ekiken, and Inoro Jyakusui (稻生若水), at least 10 versions of Ben Cao Gang Mu were published. The rapid spread of the various versions of the book in China and Japan has become the source of Japanese knowledge of medicine and the driving force for studying herbal medicine, which has brought the development of Japanese herbal medicine into an era of unprecedented prosperity.
In 1637, the earliest engraved version of Ben Cao Gang Mu appeared in Japan, followed by other versions of famous experts, such as versions of “Joo-hon”(承应本), “Matusshita-hon”(松下本), “Kaibara-hon”(贝原本), and “Jyakusui-hon”(若水本). Among them, the one compiled and proofread by Kaibara Ekiken was influential.
Kaibara Ekiken (1630–1714), literary name Tokusin (笃信), Komakoto (子诚) or Sonken (损轩) (in his later years, Ekiken), and commonly known as Kyubei (久兵卫). Born in Chikuzen (筑前国) (now Fukuoka -ken,福冈), he moved to Edo after adulthood. In his childhood, he studied medicine and sinology from his father and his brother. He used to be a doctor of Fukuoka domain and later studied herbal medicine in Kyoto. Kaibara Ekiken was a scholar of versatility. He was a highly prestigious sinologist and herbalist at the time. Apart from herbal medicine, he was versed in Confucianism, agronomy, medicine, astronomy, geography, and so on.
In 1672, his correction of Ben Cao Gang Mu was published, which is called the version of “Kanbun-hon”(宽文本) and “Kaibara-hon”(贝原本). As the most influential one among Japanese engraved version of Ben Cao Gang Mu, it is based on the revised version of Ben Cao Gang Mu by Qian Weiqi(钱蔚起). “Kaibara-hon”(贝原本) also had a list of herbs inBen Cao Gang Mu as an appendix.
| Okamoto Ippou (冈本一抱) – Translated and Popularized Ben Cao Gang Mu|| |
To facilitate people to better understand, grasp, and utilize Chinese original knowledge, some scholars began to translate and annotate Chinese books in Japanese in the early days of the Edo period. Okamoto Ippou has long been committed to popularizing and promoting traditional Chinese medicine.
Okamoto Ippou (1655–1716), courtesy name Ichitokusai(一得斋) original family name Sugimori (杉森), was also called Ichiku(为竹) and lived in Kyoto. At the age of 18, he started to learn classic works from the prestigious medical expert Ajioka Sanpaku (味冈三伯) and then became an excellent apprentice. He took enlightenment as his own task and wrote many books. Among them, Guang Yi Ben Cao Da Cheng (《广益本草大成》Complete Compendium of Additional Materia Medica) is a typical one.
Guang Yi Ben Cao Da Cheng, also called He Yu Ben Cao Gang Mu (《和语本草纲目》Compendium of Materia Medica in Japanese), is written with 23 volumes published in 1698. On the purpose of popularizing Ben Cao Gang Mu, the book contains a total of 1834 kinds of herbs with 1788 from Ben Cao Gang Mu and 46 new ones. After carefully studying the names, property, flavor, efficacy, and toxicity of the herbs recorded in the Ben Cao Gang Mu, he translated them into Japanese. In addition, his book supplements and corrects some herb pictures after referring to pictures in Ben Cao Gang Mu and his own observation, which is helpful for doctors to identify herbs. Although his book only translates parts of Ben Cao Gang Mu, it is still a successful translation work.
| Matsuoka Gentatsu (松冈玄达) – Taught Ben Cao Gang Mu|| |
In the Edo period, an array of famous scholars competed for taking Ben Cao Gang Mu as a textbook to teach herbal medicine, such as Hayashi Razan, Kaibara Ekiken, Abe Syou-ou (阿部将翁), Inoro Jyakusui(稻生若水), Matsuoka Kentachi, Ono Ranzan (小野蘭山), Sousensyun (曾占春), Yamamoto Bouyou (山本亡羊), and Iwasaki Kan-en. There were often more than a thousand followers to attend their class. Their efforts contributed to an unprecedented craze of learning and studying Ben Cao Gang Mu. Matsuoka Gentatsu was a well-known herbal educator at that time. He taught Ben Cao Gang Mu in person, until the end of his life.
Matsuoka Gentatsu (1668–1746), literary name Seisyou (成章), courtesy name Igansai (怡颜斋), Koukankyo (苟完居), or Hanisuzuou (填令翁), is often called Joan(恕庵) and lived in Kyoto. He used to learn Confucianism from Yamazaki Ansai (山崎闇斋) and Ito Jinsai (伊藤仁斋) and later studied herbal medicine from Inoro Jyakusui(稻生若水) and medicine from Asai Shuhaku (浅井周伯), an excellent doctor.
As an educator of traditional medicine and herbalism, Matsuoka Gentatsu opened a private school in Kyoto. In 1744, he started to teach Ben Cao Gang Mu at the age of 74. He trained a large number of herbalists such as Ono Ranzan, Tsushima Jyoran (津岛如兰), and Emura Jyokei (江村如圭). His notes on Ben Cao Gang Mu were compiled into a book called Ben Cao Gang Mu Bi Ji (《本草纲目笔记》Notes on Compendium of Materia Medica). From this book, we can find that Matsuoka Gentatsu's explanation starts from the 5th chapter of Ben Cao Gang Mu to the 47th chapter, covering the most parts. He is one of the representative herbalists in the early Edo period and has devoted his life to promoting and popularizing Ben Cao Gang Mu.
| Ono Ranzan (小野蘭山) – Promoted Ben Cao Gang Mu|| |
The lectures on Ben Cao Gang Mu of famous professors, such as Matsuoka Gentatsu, Ono Ranzan, and Yamamoto Bouyou (山本亡羊), have been compiled by their respective followers into many herbal works in the form of notes. They have been passed down from generation to generation. Among them, Ono Ranzan's thoughts on Ben Cao Gang Mu were collected and compiled into a book called Ben Cao Gang Mu Qi Meng (《本草纲目启蒙》Enlightenment of Compendium of Materia Medica).
Ono Ranzan (1729–1810), last name Sahaku (左伯), literary name Ibun (以文), courtesy name Ranzan (蘭山), is also called Motohiro (职博) and Kinai (喜内). He was born in Kyoto, and at the age of 13, he learned herbal medicine from Matsuoka Gentatsu. Later, he decided to follow his teacher's career and set up a private school to teach Ben Cao Gang Mu. He also organized field investigation and built a garden to plant herbs. At the age of 71, Ono Ranzan followed the order of the shogunate to become a medical officer in Edo and taught herbal medicine at the medical academy.
Ben Cao Gang Mu Qi Meng is a representative work of annotation. The superior masterpiece has the dual characteristics of herbalism and natural history. It is also one of the most important representative works of the Japanese version of Ben Cao Gang Mu.
Ben Cao Gang Mu Qi Meng originates from his lecture notes. The book was compiled by his student Okamura Syuneki (冈村春益) and his grandson Ono Mototaka (小野职孝) [Figure 2] and corrected by Ono Ranzan. First published in 1803, the book is a representative work of annotation. Stemming from Ben Cao Gang Mu, it gave Japanese explanation of herb names and pronunciations for 1882 herbs recorded in Ben Cao Gang Mu with referring to over 200 ancient Chinese, Japanese, and Korean books. It contains 48 chapters of Ben Cao Gang Mu from the 5th chapter to the 52nd. The superior masterpiece has the dual characteristics of herbalism and natural history. It is also one of the most important representative works of the Japanese version ofBen Cao Gang Mu.
| Iwasaki Kan-En (岩崎灌园) – Making the Most Use of Ben Cao Gang Mu|| |
In the late Edo period, Dutch studies were popular. Japanese combined Chinese herbalism with the social culture and real life in Japan and Western scientific knowledge to study Ben Cao Gang Mu. A number of works on it were published at that time. Among them, Iwasaki Kan-en achieved fruitful results and was particularly outstanding.
Tsunemasa (常正), Gentsuu (玄通), or Genzou (源三). He was the student of Ono Ranzan in his later years. As a disciple of Ono Ranzan, Iwasaki Kan-en was devoted to the study of Ben Cao Gang Mu and herbalism. He paid great attention to the drawing of the drug picture and believed that pictures are especially important for the study of the herbal medicine. Ben Cao Tu Pu (《本草图谱》Sketch Book of Herbs), the representative work, reflects the spirit of the school.
Ben Cao Tu Pu contains a total of 93 chapters in 56 volumes and two index chapters. The book was written in 1828 and published in 1842. Mainly based on the description of botanical drugs, the book has collected more than 2000 species of plants, and their information was compiled according to the categories recorded in Ben Cao Gang Mu. It explains part of Ben Cao Gang Mu from the 12th chapter to the 38th in the form of colorful pictures and Japanese annotation. Colorful pictures in Ben Cao Tu Pu [Figure 3] are carefully reviewed. The book is the earliest large-scale colorful sketch work written by Japanese. It is also a useful supplement to Ben Cao Gang Mu and is regarded as the largest book of plant illustrations in the Edo period.
| Maeda Toshiyasu (前田利保) – Made Textual Research on Ben Cao Gang Mu|| |
Influenced by the textual research in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Japanese scholars also applied the method to the study of Ben Cao Gang Mu. Ben Cao Tong Chuan (《本草通串》) [Figure 4] is the most detailed work on the study of Ben Cao Gang Mu outside mainland China.
Maeda Toshiyasu (1799–1859) was also known as Keitarou (启太郎), literary name Hakukou (伯衡), courtesy name Ekisai (益斋) or Mankatei (万香亭). He used to be a student of Kurimoto Tansyu (栗本丹州) and Iwasaki Kan-en. He was deeply involved in the theory of herbal medicine and became one of the top five herbalists in Japan. The other four experts are Inoro Jyakusui, Yamamoto Bouyou, Ono Ranzan, and Iinuma Yokusai (饭沼欲斋).
Ben Cao Tong Chuan has 94 chapters and 56 volumes. Published in 1852, it is an herbal work with the maximum length in the Edo period. As the lord of Toyama domain(富山藩), Maeda Toshiyasu was capable of reading a large number of ancient books of China and Japan. When compiling Ben Cao Tong Chuan, he selected herbs recorded in Li Shizhen's Ben Cao Gang Mu and followed its order. This book contains numerous theories of herbal medicine of Japanese scholars and different Chinese dynasties from the period of three emperors to the Ming Dynasty as well as a wide range of historical books. It examined herb medicine in Ben Cao Gang Mu in detail, and it is a representative work of textual research on Ben Cao Gang Mu.
| Conclusion|| |
Focusing on the eastward spread ofBen Cao Gang Mu, Japanese masters represented by Hayashi Razan studied the book from different aspects. A group of Japanese medical scientists continued to do the work of annotation, investigation, and teaching for more than 260 years. Although these medical scientists have different focuses and achievements in the research of herbal medicine, they were deeply influenced by Li Shizhen, and their research works are largely based on the contents of Ben Cao Gang Mu. These doctors have done a lot of work for the extensive dissemination of Ben Cao Gang Mu in Japan and effectively promoted the development of Japanese herbal science and natural history.
Financial support and sponsorship
Project funded by China Postdoctoral Science Foundation(No.2018M632153); New Youth Teacher Training Funding Scheme at Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (No. A1-U17205010471).
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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[Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4]