Modified and translated by CFJA
This is the eighth blog on acumoxa therapy. Since the content on acumoxa therapy is heavy due to its long history and it played a central role in the medical field in Japan and China, we will be breaking it down into pieces and writing several blogs. What is Eastern Medicine? 01 is about acupuncture therapy from the ancient times to the Asuka period (592 – 710); 02 is about acupuncture therapy until the beginning of the Edo period (1603 – 1868); 03 is about moxibustion therapy until the beginning of the Edo period; 04 is about acumoxa therapy after the Edo period; 05 is about China from the ancient times to 1960s; 06 is about how TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) was established in China in 1960; 07 was about “What is TCM?”. This one, “What is Eastern Medicine? 08” will be about how Japanese acumoxa techniques have been transmitted and adopted in China.
In China, herbal and acumoxa therapy has been practiced as a national medicine from the Han Dynasty, through Sui, Tang, Yuan, and Song Dynasties, to the Qing Dynasty. In 1822, the court physician caused medical malpractice on the son of the Daoguang emperor of the Qing Dynasty. The emperor raged with anger and edicted ‘Although acumoxa therapy holds a prolonged history, inserting a needle on one’s body or burning with moxa are unfavourable to practice on the emperor. Therefore, the department of acumoxa in the imperial medical hospital within the Qing dynasty shall be closed forever’ (鍼灸の一法、由來已に久し、然れども鍼を以って刺し火もて 灸するは、究む所奉君の宜しき所にあらず、太医院鍼灸の一科は、永遠に停止と著す). Prohibition of acumoxa therapy on the emperor, consequently, lead to prohibition amongst the civilians as well. Since then, acumoxa therapy continued to decline; Chinese medicine in general, including herbal therapy, declined. In China, the research on acumoxa stopped, and it became difficult to transmit as a medicine to the next generations and faced corruption in the early period of the Republic of China (ROC). The government of the ROC, established in 1911, did not acknowledge acumoxa and herbal therapy as national medicine, even after the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was established in 1949.
The Chinese, with the hopes of reviving acumoxa therapy in their country, came to Japan to study Japanese medicine. The key person was Cheng Dan’an 承淡安. He studied in Japan for eight months, from 1934 to 1935, to investigate the advanced education of the Japanese acumoxa. He studied at Tokyo High School of Acupuncture and Moxibustion 東京高等鍼灸学校 (Kuretake academy 呉竹学園 today), founded in 1929, for 6 months and received a certificate of completion. After returning to China, he attempts to integrate the educational content from the acumoxa school in Japan. It is said that there was not much difference between the schools in Japan and China – probably, the only difference was learning about Chinese classics such as Huang di nei jing 黄帝内経 (Jp. Kotei daikei, “Inner Classics of Yellow Emperor”). It is believed that it was around this time when there was no discrepancy between education in China and Japan.