International Workshop “Creating Ethical Bodies”

Supported by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) - International congference: Bishops in ...



Ghent University, Japanese Studies Faculty of Arts and Philosophy , Blandijnberg 2, Ghent 9000 , Room 6.60, 6th floor 

15–16 August 2023 

15 August (Tuesday) 

NB: the university is closed on 15 August, due to national holiday. Student volunteers will ensure access to the Sint-Amandstraat side entrance of the main Blandijnberg 2 building; this side entrance is located 50 m to the left from the main building entrance and faces the Italian restaurant Firenze directly across the street. The side entrance is the closest to two elevators riding to the 6th floor. From the elevator, please turn to the left to proceed to room 6.60. 


14.00–14.15 Opening remarks by the conference organizers
(Angelika Koch, Andreas Niehaus, practical information: Anna Andreeva)

Panel I Panel chair: Andreas Niehaus (Ghent)

14.15–15.00 Daniel Trambaiolo (University of Hong Kong, in person)
Popularizing Medicine as Encyclopedic Knowledge:
Hongō Masatoyo’s Idō nichiyō kōmoku 医道日用綱目 (1709)

15.00–15.45 Yasui Manami (Nichibunken, Kyoto)
The Body and Yōjō in Visual Images in early modern Japan

15.45–16.00 Short break

16.00–16.45 Angelika Koch (Leiden)
Sexuality, Health and the Ethical Male Body in Early Modern Health Cultivation and Beyond

16.45–17.30 Joshua Schlachet (Arizona)
Knowing What’s Good for You: Moralism, Reprimand, and the Trouble with Eating Right in Early Modern Japan

17.30–17.45 Short break

17.45–19.00 Keynote lecture and Q&A
The Shadow of Time in the Art of Cultivating Life
Shigehisa Kuriyama (RIJS, Harvard University)


Daniel TRAMBAIOLO (Hong Kong)

Popularizing Medicine as Encyclopedic Knowledge:
Hongō Masatoyo’s Idō nichiyō kōmoku 医道日用綱目 (1709)

The mechanisms by which older styles of medical thinking and intervention were maintained and disseminated in early modern Japan have hitherto received less attention than the conceptual and practical innovations taking place during the same period. In this paper, I argue that one such mechanism of continuity in medical culture was the compilation and reproduction of popular kana medical manuals such as Hongō Masatoyo’s Idō nichiyō kōmoku 医道日用綱目 (1709), one of the most extensively reprinted medical treatises of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Japan. The contents of this manual were wide-ranging, from the structures and organs of the body, pulse diagnosis, and disease categories, to basic herbs and formulas, massage, and acupuncture; it thus presented a comprehensive practical overview of medical knowledge in a form suitable for moderately sophisticated but non-expert audiences similar to those of typical yōjō treatises. The continuing circulation and reception of this manual more than 150 years after its initial publication presents a challenge to simple linear accounts of changing medical culture in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Japan, suggesting a need to explore more thoroughly how popular and elite understandings of the body and medicine may have diverged.


YASUI Manami 安井眞奈美 (Nichibunken, Kyoto)

 The Body and Yōjō in Visual Images in early modern Japan 

Kaibara Ekiken’s Yōjōkun ([Teachings on Nourishing Life], 1713) had certainly influenced the Japanese literati, but as a practical book, it also had impact on the broader audiences in early modern Japan. The “art of nourishing life” (yōjō) entails restricting the desires that damage the body (food and drink, sex, and sleep), which prevents damaging one’s health or genki (“original energy”) and thus ascertains longevity. There were likely those who devoted their lives to yōjō and aimed for “ethical bodies,” but suppressing desires was not generally a standard practice.

Popular with large audiences were the colorful woodblock prints and the literature geared towards adult readers that included images, such as the “yellow cover books” (kibyōshi). They advocated the yōjō practices and also included playful and satiric images of the body.

The anatomical depictions of the body from the New Book of Anatomy (Kaitai shinsho, 1774) spread among intellectual circles, but with the masses, Toriyama Sekien’s Illustrated Night Parade of a Hundred Demons (Gazu Hyakki Yagyō, 1776) gained popularity. Not only it depicted the human bodies, but also those of yōkai. Subsequently, the external evils that caused disease were identified with yōkai, and compositions were made with body parts fighting yōkai, or maladies fighting medicines. In this presentation, I want to display the popular imagination on this subject and the unique developments in depicting yōjō and the body at a time when the Edo-period woodblock printing flourished. (transl. by Elias Bouckaert)


Angelika KOCH (Leiden)

Sexuality, Health and the Ethical Male Body in
Early Modern Health Cultivation and Beyond

Sex and the erotic famously occupied a central place in early modern Japanese culture, capturing the imagination of writers, painters and print-makers; but it also drew the attention of physicians, quacks, healers and lay health-seekers. This talk examines sexuality as a health and disease concept for men in early modern Japan, exploring the variety of cultural associations it encompassed in the medical field. Normative notions of gender roles, masculinity and the household all played a part in constructing sexual pathologies and, conversely, a ‘healthy’ sexuality. Through a discussion of a range of widely circulating healthcultivation manuals and medical texts, but also lay diaries, fiction and advertisements for patent medicine, the work reveals the tensions and competing attitudes which surrounded sexuality, from the viewpoint of both the medical expert and the lay public.


Joshua SCHLACHET (Arizona)

Knowing What’s Good for You:
Moralism, Reprimand, and the Trouble with Eating Right in Early Modern Japan

At first glance, the opening lines of Kaibara Ekiken’s iconic health treatise Yōjōkun (Precepts on Nourishing Life, 1713) may read like standard Neo-Confucian maxims. His focus on filial piety and heaven-granted longevity draw from a genealogy of thought so thick with precedent from across time and space in East Asia as to make it seem generic, expected. Yet his claims that your body is not yours alone, and that you are worthless without a well-nourished one, suggest a more specific conjunction between healthy bodies and the web of moralized relationships that constitute their social and historical contexts. According to yōjō guidance, surrendering to a desire for the delicious was tantamount to shirking one’s duty, inviting disease, and weakening not only the individual body but the household as well. My paper examines this tension between self-regulation and an expanded, socially and morally embedded conception of bodily care, which became the animating logic behind the dispensation and reception of dietary advice in early modern Japan.

By the early nineteenth century, most vernacular yōjō advice necessitated a constant counterbalance between knowledge internalized and expectations imposed. What one ought to eat for the purported purposes of health maintenance became equally bound-up in social and ethical imperatives on how a health body ought to behave. The market for yōjō-inspired dietetic manuals, however, emerged alongside intersecting genres of popular culinary publications that revelled in the glorification and celebration of luxury consumption. This dynamic necessitated near-constant reprimand to prevent lapses in moderation – the temperament most critical for right eating. In response, nourishing life guides urged consumers to know what was good for them, both in the sense of internalizing knowledge on proper dietary practices and in that of a warning to exercise caution in eating, lest their immoderate appetites invite decay upon their corporeal, social, and moral selves.


 16 August (Wednesday) 

Panel II  Panel chair: Angelika Koch (Leiden)

10.00–10.45 Clarence I-Zhuen Lee (Nichibunken, Kyoto)
An Exposition of Yōjō in a Time of Crisis: Suzuki Akira’s Yōjō Yōron (1834)

10.45–11.30 Amanda Seaman (Amherst)
Internal Affairs: A Yōjō Conceit in Ogino Anna’s Kani to Kare to Watashi

11.30–11.45 Short break

11.45–12.30 Anna Andreeva (Ghent)
How to Have a Safe Pregnancy, by a Cautious Physician 

12.30–14.00 Lunch

Panel III PhD training session
(20 min. paper + 10 min. Q&A), panel chair: Anna Andreeva

14.00–14.30 Elias Bouckaert (Ghent)
The Gozōron Texts in Edo Period Japan: A Different Kind of Ethical Body

14.30–15.00 Stephanie Van Rentergem (Ghent)
Nurturing Relationality: Yōjō in and as Interpersonal Bonds 

15.00–15.15 Short break

15.15–15.45 Jorinde Wels (KU Leuven)
“Wash your hands!” : Behavioral Change Campaigns to prevent Dysentery in Japan, 1868–1945

15.45–16.15 Masami Nakano-Hoffman (Frankfurt)
Exploring Representations of Sexuality in the ‘Common Urban Culture’ during the Edo Period: A Multi-faceted Analysis Across Various Genres

16.15–16.30 Short break

16.30–17.30 Remarks and general discussion


Clarence I-Zhuen LEE (Kyoto)

An exposition of yōjō in a time of Crisis: Suzuki Akira’s Yōjō Yōron (1834)

The Tenpō period (1830–1844) is often highlighted by historians as the beginning of the bakumatsu era. In addition to the growing presence of European colonizers in East- and Southeast Asia, the waning effectiveness of Tokugawa policies and the growing pressure placed on an antiquated social class system were beginning to be visible on an everyday level. The fourth year of Tenpō (1833), more specifically, marked the beginning of a horrific series of crop failures that resulted in famine and social upheaval. In this context, Suzuki Akira’s (1764–1837) Yōjō yōron 養生用論 (The main tenets of yōjō) provides us with a glimpse of the ways in which a kokugaku/confucian scholar attempted to address these social concerns via the method of yōjō. Written in 1834, when Akira was 71, the text is a collection of fifty-seven stanzas with a preface by his close disciple Niwa Bankan (1773–1841) that harked back at Kaibara Ekiken’s Yōjōkun. In my presentation, I will attempt the following: (1) a close reading of Yōjō yōron vis-à-vis Akira’s other writings on the topic of medicine; and (2) the contextualization of the text within the broader history of Sinitic medicine in the latter half of the Edo period, especially regarding Akira’s own expositions of his disagreements with the field of Sinitic medicine. In so doing, I hope to rethink how a Confucian/Kokugaku scholar such as Akira reworks the anthropocosmic ideology of working body as ethical social body using the concept/method of yōjō in a time of severe bodily disjuncture as a result of the growing crisis in society.


Amanda SEAMAN (Amherst)

Internal Affairs: A Yōjō Conceit in Ogino Anna’s Kani to Kare to Watashi

Utagawa Kunisada’s wood block print, Yōjo kagami, shows a seated, neatly coiffed, well-dressed man but his kimono is open, showing his insides. What stands out is that his internal organs are peopled with images of the familiar citizens of Edo, conducting the business that corresponds to what they do in their daily lives. This exteriorization of the internal body allows for understanding of the function of each organ. Yōjo or a balanced life was popular in the Edo, and Kunisada’s picture shows how each organ should work properly but it also shows how people should behave and not eat or drink excessively.

Author Ogino Anna (1957-), who is known for her love of parody and absurdism in her literature, gestures to this picture in the “Utage” [Banquet] chapter of her novel Kare to Kani to Watashi (2007) that she wrote about the death of her lover from cancer. Stunned by his diagnosis, Ogino seeks to understand his cancer, through metaphor and fantasy. In the “Utage” chapter, her lover is waiting in the hospital to have surgery to remove his cancerous esophagus. This will completely change how and what he is able to eat. She and her friend decide to throw him a farewell banquet for his esophagus complete with luxurious foods and wine.

As she watches her lover and her friend enjoy the meal, she ponders the mystery of cancer and his possible death, she is allowed to see inside his body. Once inside, she is able to understand cancer and the extent of its spread. Rather than seeing people performing the normal functions of the organs, she witnesses cancer, anthropomorphized as crabs, talking and spreading. Ogino’s story shows both the drive for exteriorization is traceable to the Edo era pictures as well as the banquet that she and her friend throw for her lover once they realize that the after his surgery, he will no longer be able to eat.

In this paper I will explore how the banquet they eat before his surgery plays with the rules of proper nutrition and lifestyle. I will also consider the juxtaposition of exteriorizing the healthy body and the sick body, probing how one is for amusement while the other is for medical and scientific reasons.


Anna ANDREEVA (Ghent)

“How to have a safe pregnancy, by a cautious physician”:
An annotated translation and study of an anonymous medical manuscript
from Sonkeikaku Bunko

Sonkeikaku Bunko, established by the Kaga lord Maeda Toshinari in Tokyo, has preserved an anonymous medical manuscript, currently titled Ika 9 医家九 ([Written by a] Physician’s House, MS 9) in the archive’s catalogue. It appears to be a late Kamakura-period handbook written by a court physician and focusing on the formulas and prescriptions for pregnant and postpartum women, most likely, of elite noble descent. There is no particular title on its modern binding cover, nor inside it. Such absence suggests that this manuscript may have been a part of one of the middle volumes in a multi-volume medieval work on women’s health, possibly lost by now. If its compilation indeed dates to the late Kamakura period, it could correspond with an approximate date of compilation of another important medieval Buddho-medical treatise, the Encyclopedia of Childbirth (Sanshō ruijūshō 産生類聚抄, ca. 1318), currently preserved in two versions at esoteric temples Daigoji 醍醐寺 in Kyoto and Shōmyōji 称名寺 near Kamakura.

What does the Sonkeikaku manuscript tell us about the ethical and practical concerns of medieval court physicians in medieval Japan? One of their main worries were dietetics, namely, the importance of ethically nourishing the developing fetus and strictly following the dietetic taboos during pregnancy. The contents of this work make it a thought-provoking addition to the volumes on pregnant women’s health included in the Japanese medical classic, the Ishinpō (984), and its less well known medieval successor, the Encyclopedia of Childbirth (1318).


Elias BOUCKAERT (Ghent)

The Gozōron Texts in Edo Period Japan: A Different Kind of Ethical Body

Besides yōjō texts, other types of literature pertaining to the care of the body circulated in Edo–period Japan. One example is the gozōron texts. Where yōjō is concerned with curbing the gluttony and desires that harm the body, the gozōron texts deal with the ontological predecessor to this discourse by asking the questions: “What is the human body composed of?How does it work?” They explain the internal structures of the body, particularly emphasising the make-up and topography of the so-called “five viscera and six entrails” 五臓六腑 (gozō roppu). In this presentation, I will identify the “ethical body” of gozōrontexts using primary sources and explore how it relates to that of yōjō literature. The ethical dimension of yōjō finds its counterpart in the esoteric Buddhist views of the body contained within the gozōron texts. The visual charts and diagrams that are typically included in many of these texts indicate the connections to such esoteric Buddhist views. This ethical body can be characterised as that of a male enlightened ascetic. It lives on breath and the vibrations of sound alone. The chanting of esoteric Siddhaṃ syllables sustains the viscera of this body and activates the seeds of enlightenment inherent in it. In contrast to the fascination with digestion in yōjō literature and despite its focus on the internal organs, food intake and digestion are barely discussed in the gozōron discourse. The implication is clear: this ethical body does not eat.


Stephanie VAN RENTERGEM (Ghent)

Nurturing Relationality: Yōjō in and as Interpersonal Bonds

Yōjō 養生, an ideology and practice of personal health care based on (Neo-)Confucianist and Daoist principles which was highly popular in the late Edo period, was not concerned simply with keeping the body healthy for its own sake. Rather, it emphasized the social and ethical dimensions of personal health care, presenting the cultivation and maintenance of a “fit” body as a moral duty to one’s parents as givers of that body and to society at large as the setting through and for which this accountable body moved. However, I would contend that the socioethical aspect of yōjō went considerably further than this one-way sense of dutifulness. Considering that feelings of connection with other human beings are vital to an individual’s well-being and ability to function, being a source of such feelings for another is equivalent to enabling them to fully live their appointed roles. Therefore, the performance of yōjō, though always socially oriented, was not a solo but a reciprocal undertaking, which, properly carried out within each pair of connected individuals, made up the building blocks of Tokugawa society even more fundamentally than did the ie 家 system, in that this “yōjō network” extended even to those operating outside of that system, such as the women employed within the licensed quarters and, by extension, their clients. Through the lens of these quarters, this paper serves as an illustration of the yōjō network’s functioning.


Jorinde WELS (KU Leuven)

“Wash your hands!” : Behavioral Change Campaigns to prevent Dysentery in Japan, 1868­–1945

This paper focuses on the visualization of dysentery as a tool in prevention campaigns in This paper focuses on public health campaigns and roundtable discussions among experts focused on prevention of dysentery in Japan from the Meiji period (1868­–1912) until the end of the Second World War. In this period, dysentery had replaced cholera as an acute waterborne infectious disease that demanded the attention of public health experts in Japan. As part of the efforts to prevent dysentery, various public health campaigns were spread with the aim to change unhygienic or unhealthy behavior, often with help of visual elements. This paper will discuss two of such campaigns, respectively of the Meiji period (1868–1912) and the Second World War, in order to compare the visualization of the dysentery, its pathogens, and preventive measures, and to analyze continuities and discontinuities. Both campaigns use a medium that is typical of their time. The campaign of the Meiji period made use of magic lantern slides, which were a popular medium before film was common. The second source is a paper theater play (kami shibai), which was a common wartime medium as it was cheap, easy to spread, and could be performed by anyone. How were these media employed, by whom, and how did this impact the representation of disease? How were new medical theories and subsequent preventive methods, but also traditional Sino-Japanese medical elements, reflected in health campaigns and their preparation? Doctors, bureaucrats, army officials, and hygiene police officers sat together to discuss the dangers of unhealthy behavior and to create health campaigns to educate the public on how to change that behavior and to protect their bodies, and by extension society, from infectious disease.


Masami NAKANO-HOFMANN (Frankfurt)

Exploring Representations of Sexuality in the ‘Common Urban Culture’ during the Edo Period: A Multi-faceted Analysis Across Various Genres

The purpose of this presentation is to investigate the representations of sexuality during the Edo period in Japan, focusing on the “common urban culture” (chōmin bunka 町人文化) from various perspectives, such as “humorous book” (sharebon 洒落本), “trivial literature” (gesaku 戯作), “advisory guide” (chōhōki 重宝記), “erotic literature” (enpon 艶本) and “treatise on the path of love” (shikidōron 色道論). These representations are not viewed as a gender study, but rather are investigated from a historical and cultural aspect. This talk focuses on three key characteristics of sexuality during the Edo period: Firstly, the contradictory representations of sexuality. While rules of yōjō methods regarding sexuality were accepted in some contexts, indulging in sexuality following bodily desires seemingly disregarded these yōjō considerations in other contexts. Nevertheless, when viewed holistically, these contradictory elements interacted with one another. Secondly, publications played a role in representing sexuality. They employed humor, wit, and parody as mediums. Lastly, there existed a playful portrayal of the human body. It is conspicuous in the realm of pornography and probably has to be seen in connection with encountering Western medical knowledge. The reception of Western ideas contributed to a gradual trend of scientification and categorization within pornography, and it started at a much earlier time than Kawamura Kunimitsu argued.