Medical Geology in Japan

Part of the International Year of Planet Earth book series (IYPE)


The relationship between medical treatment and geology in Japan has an old history. However, the distribution of man-made strata deserves special mentioning in the geology of the Japanese Archipelago. The population density of Japan is high, and the man-made strata abruptly increased due to consequences of high economic growth, mass production, and mass consumption. Therefore this chapter describes the background and the different methods used in solving environmental problems linked to man-made pollution, the geological environment, and health in Japan.

Geo-pollution in Japan is an anthropogenic subterranean pollution. The geo-pollution does not mean “chemical hazards” caused by geological factors, that is, the distribution of natural elements and constituents and processes. Pollutants from geo-pollution sites are often harmful for health. Therefore geo-pollution is an integrated part of medical geology, studying the effects of our natural environment including the anthropogenic impact and processes in the natural environment.

Also hot springs are included in the concept. Heavy metals and other constituents in hot spring waters can be very useful for health but sometimes also toxic for human health. Japan’s hot and cold springs have been utilized for bathing from ancient times mainly for medical and convalescent purposes. The unique methodologies for using springs have taken root as part of Japanese culture. The word onsen is known worldwide as a term that generally describes the culture originating from the unique utilization of hot and cold springs in Japan. The different properties of hot springs are described in this chapter.


Japan Hot springs Kogai Geo-pollution Balneotherapy Cadmium Mercury Man-made strata 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Japan Branch of the International Medical Geology AssociationKatori CityJapan
  2. 2.Research Institute of Environmental GeologyChiba CityJapan

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