Illness and Culture in Contemporary Japan

An Anthropological View

Illness and Culture in Contemporary Japan

Health care in contemporary Japan - a modern industrial state with high technology, but a distinctly non-Western cultural tradition - operates on several different levels. In this book Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney provides a detailed and historically informed account of the cultural practices and cultural meaning of health care in urban Japan. In contrast to most ethnomedical studies, this book pays careful attention to everyday hygienic practices and beliefs, as well as presenting a comprehensive picture of formalized medicine, health care aspects of Japanese religions, and biomedicine. These different systems compete with one another at some levels, but are complementary in providing health care to urban Japanese, who often use more than one system simultaneously. As an unequalled portrayal of health care in a modern industrial, but non-Western, setting, it will be of widespread interest to scholars and students of anthropology, medicine, and East Asian studies.


'For sheer virtuosity it would be difficult to find another book like this in the field of Japanese studies; and it also exceeds the range of any book I know on health and illness. Ohnuki-Tierney has written about central aspects of Japanese society and thought in so persuasive a way that anyone interested in Japan will have to read this book. It will be a landmark.' Robert J. Smith