Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Japan

  • Hanaoka Seishū, inventor of an early general anesthetic

    Kingston Bridges London, United Kingdom   Hanaoka performing the first operation with tsūsensan. University Hospital Medical Information Network Center. Since time immemorial, humans have sought to alleviate illness and suffering through surgical interventions. Amputations with improvised tools took place in the Upper Paleolithic period over 30,000 years ago, and skeletal evidence of trephining has been…

  • The use of force in medicine

    Angad TiwariIndiaMallika KhuranaJapan William Carlos Williams (1883-1963), regarded as “the most important literary doctor since Chekhov,” was an American Pulitzer prize-winning writer and poet who stands amongst the few full-time practicing physicians to have achieved literary distinction.1 He regarded art and medicine as “two parts of a whole,” and the intimate doctor-patient interface proved a…

  • Red Beard: A master clinician in nineteenth century Japan

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “One of the essential qualities of the clinician is interest in humanity, for the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient.”—Francis W. Peabody, M.D.1 Red Beard (or Akahige) is a film about an arrogant, inexperienced doctor who learns about caring and compassion from his chief, a…

  • Quincy—A crusading doctor played by a crusading actor

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden The television series Quincy, or Quincy, M.E. [Medical examiner], aired between 1976 and 1983 in the US. One hundred forty-six episodes of this program were televised. Quincy was originally conceived as a crime drama, with the police helped by the ideas and findings of Dr. Quincy (no first name), a forensic pathologist…

  • The life of a trailblazer: Ogino Ginko, one of the first female doctors in Japan

    Mariel Tishma Chicago, Illinois, United States   Photo of Ogino Ginko. From the National Diet Library. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. Ogino Ginko was Japan’s first female doctor of Western medicine. She lived a life full of struggles, achieved a flash of fame, and then quietly retreated into history. She advocated for the rights, safety, and…

  • Atrocities in Asia: Japan’s infamous Unit 731

    Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Bayonet practice, wherein Japanese soldiers used dead Chinese for targets. photographed by an Associated Press photographer near Tientsin. Date, 5 September 1937. Source, LIFE, Oct 11, 1937. page 30. Via Wikimedia In 1931 the Japanese army occupied the province of Manchuria in north-east China and continued to invade and occupy…

  • Plagues and prejudice

    Anne Jacobson Oak Park, Illinois, United States   Figure 1. Honolulu Chinatown fire of 1900. Hawaii State Archives.  It was a calm, clear January morning on the gritty streets of paradise. Honolulu, the capital of the newly-annexed U.S. territory of Hawaii, was ushering out a century of upheaval that had included the arrival of explorers,…

  • Hiroshima seventy-five years after the bombing

    Cristóbal Berry-CabánFort Bragg, North Carolina, United States “At exactly fifteen minutes past eight in the morning on August 6, 1945, Japanese time, at the moment when the atomic bomb flashed above Hiroshima, Miss Toshiko Sasaki, a clerk in the personnel department of the East Asia Tin Works, had just sat down at her place in…

  • Blood type and personality

    Nonoko KamaiNagoya, Japan Why do Japanese people believe in a relationship between blood type and personality? Beginning in the 1970s, the blood type personality hypothesis became fashionable in Japan and it is still popular today.5 A women’s magazine focusing on the topic once sold seven billion copies and there are still fortune telling books based…

  • Yellow blood: Learn from yesterday

    Meguna NakaiNagoya, Japan In 2020 Japan will host the second Tokyo Olympics. When the first Olympics were televised in 1964, people were surprised to find that Japan had developed so quickly even though only nineteen years had passed after World War II. Yet there remained much to be done. One urgent need was to improve…