This article aims to shed light on the multifarious relationship between medicine and literature in Tokugawa Japan (1603-1867) by focusing on a humorous-informative work of popular fiction entitled Yōjō kyōkun isha dangi (1759). Firstly, this essay provides an overview of Isha dangi explaining how medical knowledge is grafted onto narrative structure. Secondly, it analyses the didactic and entertaining aspects of this text and describes how Isha dangi was influenced both by works of comic literature and by instructive medical manuals produced during the Tokugawa period. In doing so, this study supports the hypothesis of genre hybridism in Japanese early-modern literature. Finally, using Isha dangi as a case study, this article takes into account issues of authorship and readership in medically-themed literary works.
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See Fukuda‘Igakusho to yomimono to’8. Kōshokumankintan and Kōshokuhaidokusan are two works of popular fiction with titles that play with the word kōshoku (erotic libidinous) and the names of medicines mankintan (a kind of sedative) and haidokusan (against high fever) respectively.
See ShibataDaisō zōsho mokuroku to kenkyū669-71. In this group we can number several of the so-called dangibon and other instances of medically-themed literature namely Bokusai banashiChikusai ryōji no hyōbanKyōkun manbyō kaishun.