Eight folding leaves. 8vo, orig. brown wrappers, new stitching. N.p.: Afterword dated 1833.
First edition and extremely rare; we find no copy in WorldCat. Sasaki (1785-1861), who studied medicine in Kyoto, was an official domain doctor in Sendai in northern Japan. He specialized in women’s illnesses at the local medical school and oversaw the preparation of drugs from its botanical garden. This work was written in response to the great Tenpo famine, which began in 1833 in the northern regions and spread throughout the island nation in the following years.
Sasaki based this book on several classic Chinese works of materia medica, including the state-commissioned pharmacopoeia Bencao. The author lists 203 plants (including roots and leaves) and tree products (fruits and bark), all of which could be found in northern Japan and have medicinal and nutritional value. Instructions are given regarding the preparation of the products to make them edible, along with recommendations to find the correct balance of diet.
In an interesting passage, Sasaki urges farmers to grow a wider variety of food products (including beans, pumpkins, potatoes, burdock, and gourds) and dry them after the harvest to be ready for times of famine. Recipes for making medicines are also given.
We believe this is a privately printed book, issued in Sendai. The text uses a most interesting combination of kanji and hiragana for the names of the plants.
Fine copy, preserved in a chitsu. With the seal (and release seal) of Keio University. Our copy later entered the collection of Frank Hawley, scholar and one of the most discerning collectors of Japanese books and manuscripts. His stamp appears on the first page of text. See R.H. van Gulik’s “In Memoriam. Frank Hawley (1906-1961)” in Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 16, No. 3/4 (Oct. 1960-Jan. 1961), pp. 434-47.
Item ID: 8293