Psychotherapy in Japan

  • Kiyoshi NishimuraEmail author


In order to understand the nature of psychotherapy in Japan, one must first understand the nature of Japan. The early modern period of Japanese history (hereafter referred to as the Edo period) not only continued to have a profound impact on various fields in the late modern period of Japan, but has also had an influence on modern-day Japan. During the Edo period, to prevent cultural erosion mainly by the Christian states, a national isolation policy was started by the Samurai in power in the early seventeenth century, which almost isolated Japan from the rest of the world. This continued for more than 200 years until the mid-nineteenth century, when Shimoda and Hakodate ports were opened as a result of the Convention of Kanagawa, which Japan was forced to sign in 1854 under military threat from the USA. It was not until 1866 that the ban on overseas travel was lifted in Japan, and foreigners were granted residency only after 1899. During the Edo period, there was movement of goods and people between Japan and the Korean dynasty (present-day North Korea and South Korea), the Ryukyu Kingdom (present-day Okinawa Prefecture), the Ming and Qing Dynasties (present-day China), and certain parts of the Netherlands. At this time, Japanese medicine was a mixture of Chinese-influenced Kampo medicine, Western medicine that entered Japan through the Netherlands, and magical healing systems rooted in the cultural traditions. In the early days of the Meiji period (1868–1912), when Japan had already opened its doors to the world, while English medicine (clinical medicine) also had an influence on Japan, German-style medicine (basic medical sciences) prevailed in Japan for political reasons. Fifty years ago, elderly doctors still filled out medical records in German. During this period (?), folk medicine that had been passed down for generations and magical healing systems that had played a role similar to that of current clinical psychology became localised.


Psychotherapy Japan Japanese Transcultural psychiatry Cultural norms Shamanism 



Professor Shimoji is a rare psychiatrist in Japan who is able to look over the magical healing systems while standing in the universal cosmopolitan medical system. Professor Shimoji was awarded THE 2017 ACADEMIC AWARD for the publication of “The spectrum of illness: an encounter between psychiatry and anthropology” in 2015. I am sincerely grateful to Professor Shimoji for providing me with the article related to the theme of this manuscript.

Interface between Shamanism and Psychiatry in Miyako Islands, Okinawa, Japan: A Viewpoint from Medical and Psychiatric Anthropology [18].


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Japanese Society of Transcultural PsychiatryShinjukuJapan

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