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Words of Tohkaku Wada: medical heritage in Japan
  1. Masatoshi Matsumoto,
  2. Kazuo Inoue,
  3. Eiji Kajii
  1. Fujihashi Clinic, Gifu, and Jichi Medical School, Tochigi, Japan


    The origins of Japan's medical ideas, which are deeply rooted in its religion, culture and history, are not widely understood in medical societies of other countries. We have taken up the task of summarising this tradition here so that some insight can be gained into the unique issues that characterise the practice of medicine in Japan. We borrow from the sayings of Tohkaku Wada, a medical philosopher of late eighteenth-century Japan, for a look at Japanese medical tradition. Wada's medical thought was very much reflective of the Buddhism, Zen, and swordsmanship that informed eighteenth-century philosophy in Japan. His central concepts were “chu” and “sei”, that is, complete and selfless dedication to the patient and the practice of medicine. This paper explores Wada's thought, explaining it mainly from the standpoint of Japanese traditional culture.

    • Tohkaku Wada
    • ethics
    • philosophy
    • Buddhism
    • Zen
    • Japan

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    • Masatoshi Matsumoto, MD, is a Family Physician, Fujihashi Clinic,Gifu, Japan and Senior Resident, Department of Community and Family Medicine, Jichi Medical School, Tochigi, Japan. Kazuo Inoue, MD, PhD, is a Family Physician, Towa Clinic, Department of Community and Family Medicine, Jichi Medical School and Eiji Kajii, MD, PhD, is Professor in the Department of Community and Family Medicine, Jichi Medical School. Correspondence to: Dr M Matsumoto, Department of Community and Family Medicine, 3311-1 Yakushiji, Minami-Kawachi, Tochigi 329-0498, Japan. Telephone: 0285-58-7394; fax: 0285-44-0628. Email: matmolo{at}