Studying the history of disease and healing requires that we ask some of the most basic and intimate questions about the lives of people in the past. What social, environmental, and behavioural factors determined who fell sick and who recovered from sickness? How did people understand the nature of disease and the methods for treating it? How did new medical knowledge develop and what determined whether new medical ideas would be accepted or rejected? How was medical knowledge disseminated into the broader society? Addressing these questions offers us the opportunity to explore little-studied aspects of Japanese culture and society.