The Rise of Western “Scientific Medicine” in Japan: Bacteriology and Beriberi

  • Christian Oberländer


The adoption of Western medicine was an integral part of Japan’s modernization from its very beginning,1 leading ultimately to the introduction of “scientific medicine,” a defining characteristic of the modern world. Scientific medicine started as a development in Western Europe, and after considerable conflict, came to be recognized as producing “true medical knowledge.” This, in turn, was made universal through exportation.2 Scientific medicine is based on two distinctive institutions, the hospital and the laboratory, which still prevail today. In hospital medicine, clinical investigation searches for correlations between symptoms and signs of disease, and internal changes of the body. Research focuses on anatomical pathology, and post-mortems are routinely performed. In laboratory medicine, causes of diseases are identified by experiments in order to create cures for them. Laboratory research concentrates on living processes like bacteriology, uses living animals for experiments, and depends strongly on scientific instruments like microscopes.3


Western Medicine Hospital Medicine Scientific Medicine Germ Theory Japanese Physician 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Christian Oberländer 2005

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  • Christian Oberländer

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