Cute Characters in a Japanese Old Medical Book

Long time ago, in Japan, illness was commonly believed to be the act of malevolent creatures inside the body.

A medical book written in 1568, “Harikikigaki” introduces 63 of those creatures, and describes how to fight them with acupuncture, moxibustion, and herbal medicine.

Although it is a serious medical book, the creatures were drawn cute like they can be in today’s art.






I am going to show one more picture from the book, along with a conversation which might be exchanged at a doctor’s office then.

Doctor: “What seems to be the trouble?”

Patient: “I have been hysteric and easy to get into a rage lately.”

Doctor: “Well… It must be ‘Kitai’ ’s work’.”

Patient: “Kitai?”

Doctor: “Yes, when Kitai moves or rages about in the body, the person becomes hysteric.”

Patient: “I don’t quite understand.”

Doctor: “Alright. Let me show you a picture of Kitai.”




Patient: “What the…! Are you saying this crazy thing is in my stomach?”

Doctor: “Right.”

Patient: “That’s bullsh*t!!!”

Doctor: “You see? Kitai began to act violently in you again.”


It is scary but maybe the cute characters eased patients’ anxiety (^_^)

Because they are so cute, the book’s owner, Kyushu National Museum, sells those creatures goods such as stuffed toy, key ring, and T-shirt, as souvenirs.



"jetalone" some rights reserved. flickr



"jetalone" some rights reserved. flickr


Citation: Ruriiro Tradition



This is JAPAN Style!


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