Harada Pharmacy For a Healthful Life
Published: January 25, 2022
Harada Yakkyoku Nishi-ojima is a brand new dispensing pharmacy near Nishi-ojima station.
It’s the first branch of the long-established Harada Pharmacy in Kitasuna, where we spent a highly enjoyable afternoon in September 2020 chatting with the three generations of the family that run it. On a recent afternoon, we dropped into the new place for a chat with pharmacists Mr. Yohei Hayashi and his wife Manami.
Harada Yakkyoku Nishi-ojima is located on the ground floor of a new six-story building some five minutes’ walk north of Nishi-ojima station on the right hand side. The building faces directly onto Meiji street. North of the pharmacy, it’s just a few minutes’ walk to Kameido station.
The interior of Harada Yakkyoku Nishi-ojima is exceptionally modern, resembling nothing less than a stylish Ginza cafe. As Mrs. Keiko Hayashi, daughter of the founder and mother of Mr. Hayashi said with a laugh when we pointed out the similarity, “We asked the designer for exactly that!”
The wide entrance allows access for both wheelchairs and baby carriages. Inside, there’s a spacious lobby that includes a children’s corner, leading to a waiting area and then a curved counter where customers receive their medicine. It’s in marked contrast to the Kitasuna store which is comfortably 1950’s in design, with the original shop window still intact.
The primary business of a pharmacy is filling prescriptions, of course. However, there’s a lot more to the job, as Mr. Hayashi explained. “The Kitasuna area has many long-established families and senior citizens who have been our customers since the 1950s. Here though, there are many more workers and younger people, including many who haven’t taken medicine before. They’re obviously concerned about their health so our job is explaining about their medication and giving advice.”
Both Ms. Manami and her husband are experts in traditional Japanese medicine (TJM, Kampo in Japanese), and actually first met in the Kampo research club at university. Wholesalers of traditional Japanese medicines are extremely selective about who they partner with, indicating a high level of trust with the pharmacy, developed over the last 70 years.
Harada Yakkyoku Nishi-ojima also offers a variety of what are known as natural medicines (shizen yakuhin in Japanese). One of the most popular is Sunchlon, a natural medicine derived from a species of bamboo native to the upper mountains of Shinshu, roughly equivalent to Nagano Prefecture. Kumazasa bamboo leaves have long been used to preserve food and as folk medicines in the area. They are said to be effective for lethargy, loss of appetite, halitosis, bromhidrosis, mouth ulcers, and gum inflammation.
The staff at Harada Pharmacy are food experts as well, stressing the importance of healthy eating habits as part of a regular lifestyle. Those who prefer traditional and/or natural medicines together with regular medicine are very welcome to drop in to discuss a balanced approach with the staff. They’re extremely friendly and very easy to talk to, whatever the problem may be.
Customers can also enjoy a healthy drink while waiting. There’s a choice of green tea, roasted green tea (hojicha), plum and seaweed tea (umekobucha), apple water, and Everpure filtered water, all hot or cold. Lovely.
Outside the shop there’s a postbox for prescriptions. If the shop is closed or the customer is too busy to wait, simply pop the paper in the box and the Hayashis will have it made up and ready for collection around 10am the following day. That’s a terrific service!
While Harada Yakkyoku Nishi-ojima may resemble a modern Ginza cafe, the customer care and warm-hearted family welcome is classic old town Koto-ku style, the result of 70 years experience in the business. If you’re in the area and in search of a contemporary pharmacy with the traditional touch, look no further!
Story and some photos by Stephen Spencer