Physician Travelers in Japan

Ilza Veith, PhD
JAMA. 1965;192(2):137-140. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080150067016.
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While Japan was pursuing its national policy of seclusion from the outside world (1640-1854), many European physicians nevertheless were able to visit that country. The Dutch East India Co., which alone enjoyed trading rights with Japan, employed physicians who brought European medicine to the Far East. In turn, they acquainted Europe with the totally strange world of Japan. Indeed, during the entire period of Japanese isolation they were the only ones who carried home any information from this distant and forbidden part of the world. In Japan they are remembered as excellent physicians and medical teachers; in the Western world, however, they are known for their superb detailed reports of Japan, its customs, its flora and fauna, and its medicine.

Engelbert Kaempfer  In Japan the changes and innovations introduced by European medicine were so gradual that they never entirely displaced the ancient belief in traditional medicine, particularly the belief in


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