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Toyama Pharmacy

placeImmediately outside Exit 1 of Monzen-nakacho Station

Beat the Autumn Blues at Toyama Pharmacy

Published: October 25, 2017

Conveniently located directly outside Monzen-nakacho Station on Eitai-dori Street in Koto-ku, Toyama Pharmacy is more than an ordinary pharmacy shop. Mr. Aiba, the proprietor and vice-chairman of the Koto Ward Pharmacists Association, recently introduced me to his shop and its special products.


“I’m the third generation in my family to run the shop,” he said. “My grandfather founded the business some 80 years ago. We’re a dispensing pharmacy of course, giving out medicine for prescriptions, but we also offer some over-the-counter remedies unobtainable in the major chain stores.”



“Basically, I consult with the customers as and when they come in and make recommendations based on what they say. In Japan there are some 30 major pharmaceutical companies and hundreds more minor ones, many of which make a limited number of products. One such company is Nippo Yakuhin, maker of Jacko.” Jacko (若甦, which literally translates to ‘youth resurrection’ in English) is a herbal medicine that contains, amongst other things, top quality ginseng, bovine gallbladder, taurine and methionine.




Mr. Aiba diluted a small bottle of Jacko with hot water to create a pleasant, warming drink with a mild medicinal flavour. “Many Japanese women suffer from poor circulation and sensitivity to cold (hiesho in Japanese) and medicines like Jacko can help. They improve the circulation, warm the body and impart a boost to the system.” I certainly felt enlivened on a wet and cold Friday afternoon.



Another unusual remedy on offer at Toyama Pharmacy is this stomach medicine: Keimeigashinsan from Yakushima in Kagoshima Prefecture. Yakushima is well known as the home of turmeric (ukon) in Japan and this medicine contains zedoary (Curcuma zedoary), a relative of turmeric. Known as purple turmeric (murasaki ukon), it’s a sensitive and effective remedy for those suffering from stomach upsets. This medicine is also unusual in that it consists almost entirely of powdered zedoary.



As autumn gives way to winter many people pick up sniffles and sneezes. Drinks such as Yunker Kotei and Komyakuho from Asgen are popular ways to revitalise aching bodies.



Before long, the annual year-end round of drinking parties will be upon us. If you take a tipple but want to feel sparky the morning after, then Mr. Aiba is the man to talk to as his pharmacy carries a wide range of remedies to ease that morning-after feeling. This Miraguren, for example, contains a variety of ingredients from Chinese medicine as well as taurine and vitamin B compounds. It will revitalize and protect your liver during the seasonal festivities.



Whatever your needs, why not drop in and have a chat with Mr. Aiba. He’s a walking advertisement for his products; youthful, glowing with health, and still playing the bass guitar with his old band mates from pharmaceutical university days.




Story and Photos by Stephen Spencer