From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The 22nd volume of the Ishinpō. The volume which has an only figure also in the Ishinpō

Ishinpō (医心方, ishinpō or ishinhō) is the oldest surviving Japanese medical text. It was completed in 984 by Tamba Yasuyori (also referred in some sources as Tanba no Yasuyori[1]) and is 30 volumes in length. The work is partly based on a Chinese medical work called Zhubing Yuanhou Lun 诸病原候论 (Treatise on the Many Illnesses), compiled by Sui Dynasty writer Chao Yuanfang. Many of the texts cited in Ishinpō have been lost in China, and have only survived to the present through their inclusion in the work. It is a national treasure of Japan.[2]

The structural organization of the text is as follows:

Volume Subject
1 Overview
2 Acupuncture and moxibustion
3 Internal medicine
4 Dermatology
5 Otolaryngology
6 Internal medicine
7 Surgery and internal medicine
8 Internal medicine
9 Internal medicine
10 Internal medicine
11 Internal medicine
12 Internal medicine
13 Internal medicine
14 Internal medicine
15 Surgery
16 Surgery
17 Surgery
18 Surgery
19 Pharmacology
20 Pharmacology
21 Gynaecology
22 Obstetrics
23 Obstetrics
24 Obstetrics and gynaecology
25 Pediatrics
26 Health
27 Health
28 Human sexual behavior
29 Dietary health
30 Dietary health

The Ishinpō preserved more than 200 important medical documents that were all Chinese in origin and no Japanese sources.[1] The medical knowledge in the tome covered clinical treatments that drew from the ancient Chinese traditional medicine and influenced by Indian medical theories found in Buddhist scriptures as well as Taoist references (e.g. Taoist drugs).[1] For instance, there was the so-called Scripture on Pregnancy, which outlined the physical developments and fetal movements.[3] Scholars cite its similarity with a prescription from the old Chinese medical text called Taichan shu, which contained doctrines about the development of embryo and fetus as well as proper hygiene for pregnant women.[4]

The Ishinpō is also notable for preserving some of the Taoist sexual manuals from the Han to the Tang dynasty. The twenty-eighth section of the Ishinpō contains a complete transcription of a Daoist text known as The Classic of Sunu which is a dialogue between the Dark Maiden and the Yellow Emperor, with the former providing advice on sexual practices to the latter.

While the text is written in kanbun, Japanese terms are written to the side in Man'yōgana for plants, animals, and minerals.


  1. ^ a b c Sugimoto, Masayoshi; Swain, David (1989). Science and Culture in Traditional Japan. Rutland, VT: Charles E. Tuttle company. p. 140. ISBN 9781462918133. 
  2. ^ Yoshida (2001: 192)
  3. ^ Jia, Jinhua; Kang, Xiaofei; Yao, Ping (2014). Gendering Chinese Religion: Subject, Identity, and Body. New York: SUNY Press. p. 185. ISBN 9781438453071. 
  4. ^ Suzuki, Chiharu (December 2004). "[Transition of the doctrine from ancient to medieval China for embryo and fetus on each month during pregnancy period]". Nihon Ishigaku Zasshi. [Journal of Japanese History of Medicine]. 50 (4): 569–589. ISSN 0549-3323. PMID 15818873. 


  • Mishima, Yasuyuki (2002). Ishinpō -- Dai 28 kan: Bōnai-hen. Izumi Shobō. ISBN 4-900138-71-1. 
  • Wile, Douglas. The Art of the Bedchamber: The Chinese Sexual Yoga Classics including Women’s Solo Meditation Texts. Albany: State University of New York, 1992.
  • Yoshida, Kanehiko; Hiroshi Tsukishima; Harumichi Ishizuka; Masayuki Tsukimoto (2001). Kuntengo Jiten (in Japanese). Tōkyō: Tōkyōdō Shuppan. ISBN 4-490-10570-3.