16th-century disease-causing critters from Japan

These 16th-century Japanese illustrations and descriptions of microbes are charming and fascinating. I want a copy of this book, translated into English. It would be great to read to my kids as bedtime stories.

Long ago in Japan, human illness was commonly believed to be the work of tiny malevolent creatures inside the body. Harikikigaki, a book of medical knowledge written in 1568 by a now-unknown resident of Osaka, introduces 63 of these creepy-crawlies and describes how to fight them with acupuncture and herbal remedies. The Kyushu National Museum, which owns the original copy of Harikikgaki, claims the book played an important role in spreading traditional Chinese medicine in Japan. Here are a few of the beasties found in the book.


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Jinshaku (Honton) resembles a tiny boar that runs wild through the body. Those infected with Jinshaku develop a weak pulse, a dark complexion, a craving for salty food, and bad breath. Acupuncture is an effective treatment.

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