The Record of Women’s Great Treasures

Pregnancy and Childbirth in the Edo Period: A Translation of Volume Three of Onna chōhōki

  • 1 Institute of Asian Cultural Studies, International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan
  • 2 K, awasaki, Japan
Reiko Tanimura
  • Corresponding author
  • Institute of Asian Cultural Studies, International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan
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and David Chart

Abstract

Onna chōhōki was a bestselling practical guide for women published in Japan in the late seventeenth century. This article translates volume three, concerning pregnancy and childbirth. It covers the whole period from first suspicion of childbirth to early childcare, and briefly describes childhood rituals. The advice can be divided into two broad categories: practical advice on diet, behaviour, and medications, and descriptions of customary rituals that should be performed on certain occasions. It also includes a significant amount of information on fortune telling for a child’s future, and a number of charms for such things as increasing the flow of milk. While it does include a list of the Buddhas who watch over the foetus, the contents are overwhelmingly practical and secular in character, with very little discussion of moral issues.

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