Japanese Medical Beliefs

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Japanese Medical Beliefs
Alison Sorrells
ANT 101
Instructor Patel
July 28, 2010

Japanese Medical Beliefs
Medicine is all around us. It comes in all forms and all types of beliefs. Each person has their own beliefs on what medicine can do to or for the body. No matter what country one visits, there will be a medical office to assist, however their views may vary that what one may be use to. In Japan, things are no different; however, Japan has some beliefs that contrast other countries. The Japanese has received influence from other countries, such as the Chinese, but they have turned everything into their own. They have their own superstitions, traditional medicine (including how they view modern medical needs), and different types of current trends that they follow.

Every country has its own superstitions. Certain things that are not allowed to happen on certain days or even certain things must be kept away because of its meanings. In 1998, an experiment was done to see if the Japanese was using the Taian-Butsumetsu superstition when discharging patients. The basis of the study was “To determine the influence of superstition about Taian (a lucky day)-Butsumetsu (an unlucky day) on decision to leave hospital. To estimate the costs of the effect of this superstition” (Hira, Fukui, Endoh, Rahman, & Maekawa, 1998). They took figures from patients discharged from Kyoto University Hospital from the beginning of April 1992 to the end of March of 1995, 3 years worth of patients. In the Japanese world, the Taian-Butsumetsu belief is related to the six day lunar calendar and affects the Japanese culture in a variety of ways since the Taian is suppose to be a lucky day where as the Butsumetsu is supposed to mean unlucky. Due to this superstition, some patients have asked to extend their stay so that they can be released on the following Taian day, which means more costs to the hospitals. To get the most accurate data, they used hospital records and calculated the amount of days that patients were released on each day of the six lunar cycle, and then estimated the costs that the extension brought on to the hospital. They also took into consideration the patients age and gender. The results showed that

“Of the 23677 patients discharged from the Kyoto University Hospital during the study period, 12613 (53.3%) were female and 11064 (46.7%) were male. The mean number of discharged patients was 21.6 a day with the mean age 42.3 years and the mean hospital stay 37.1 days. The mean number, age, and hospital stay of discharged patients were highest on Taian and lowest on Butsumetsu. The Kruskal-Wallis test showed significant difference among the days of this cycle regarding the mean number, age, and hospital stay of discharged patients” (Hira, Fukui, Endoh, Rahman, & Maekawa, 1998). Reports also showed that 3.3% of the discharged patients adjusted their discharge date due to their belief in Taian. It goes on to state the estimation that the mean of a typical hospital charge was 12 600 yen a day. The extra charges the patients caused the hospital to incur in order to stay to the next Taian, amount to 7.4 million yen a year all due to a superstition. If the patients would have shorted their stay to a prior Taian, there could have been a savings of roughly 12.1 million yen.

Another superstition for the Japanese is blood type. According to superstitions, your blood type can tell your temperament and personality. A man named Furukawa Takeji suggested a link between the two after working in a high school and observing the temperamental differences between applicants. His theory suggests that type A were generally mild tempered and intellectual, while blood types B were opposite (Thatcher). This superstition has influenced the Japanese so much that some companies have actually grouped their workforce together depending on their blood type. In the 1920’s and 30’s blood type grew more intriguing. Scientists in...
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