Japanese Prints: Fighting Measles with Care and Prayer


A new exhibit presents a selection of Japanese prints related to the cure and prevention of measles, and 2 hanging scrolls. Most of the prints in the exhibit were produced in response to a severe measles epidemic in Japan in 1862.

Some of the prints were intended to be placed in doorways and used as charms against the disease; others present advice for preventing or curing measles.

The prints illustrate a variety of folk cures, dietary advice, religious beliefs, and superstitions. Several of the prints stress the importance of diet in curing measles cases, as certain foods were believed to be good or bad for measles patients. Various talismanic objects were believed to have curative powers: wheat, the tarayo (Japanese holly) leaf, horses, certain toys, and Mt. Fuji. Shinto deities were called upon to fight measles, along with traditional heroes such as Shoki, the Demon Queller -- also featured in the two hanging scrolls on display.

Please enjoy these treasures from the Library's East Asian Collection, on view in the Parnassus Campus Library's first floor gallery during regular library hours. You can also view the entire UCSF Japanese Woodblock Print Collection online.

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