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Japan at Nature's EdgeThe Environmental Context of a Global Power$
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Ian Jared Miller, Julia Adeney Thomas, and Brett L. Walker

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780824836924

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824836924.001.0001

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Inventorying Nature

Inventorying Nature

Tokugawa Yoshimune and the Sponsorship of Honzōgaku in Eighteenth-Century Japan

Chapter:
(p.189) 10 Inventorying Nature
Source:
Japan at Nature's Edge
Author(s):

Federico Marcon

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824836924.003.0010

This chapter examines the organizational effort behind the honzōgaku surveys under the aegis of Tokugawa Yoshimune in eighteenth-century Japan. Yoshimune enlisted scholars to produce a complete survey of all species of plants and animals that could be found in Japan. The survey campaign was led by the pharmacologist Niwa Shōhaku. State sponsorship of specialized scholars affected in particular the structure and stakes of the field of honzōgaku, usually translated as “pharmacology” or “materia medica.” This chapter considers early attempts to give a comprehensive classification of all existing species of plants and animals, with particular emphasis on Shobutsu ruisan by Inō Jakusui. It also discusses the impact of the honzōgaku surveys on the field of nature studies. It shows that honzōgaku practitioners and the study of plants and animals both acquired cultural value due to natural history's connection to matters of economic livelihood and national prosperity.

Keywords:   honzōgaku surveys, Tokugawa Yoshimune, Japan, plants, animals, Niwa Shōhaku, honzōgaku, materia medica, Shobutsu ruisan, natural history

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