Chinese Medicine (kanpo)

. Medicine in Edo .

Chinese Medicine (kanpo), medicine (kusuri)

***** Location: China, Japan
***** Season: Non-seasonal Topic
***** Category: Humanity


In the times before the advent of modern western medicine, Asia relied heavily on the use of traditional remedies, medical plants and minerals and then prayers to the various deities !

medicine from China, kanpoo, kanpooyaku 漢方薬
as used in Japan

Below are some kigo related to the word "medicine 薬".


Traditional Chinese medicine
(also known as TCM, Simplified Chinese: 中医学; Traditional Chinese: 中醫學; pinyin: Zhōngyī xué) is a range of traditional medical practices originating in China that developed over several thousand years. These practices include theories, diagnosis and treatments such as herbal medicine, acupuncture and massage; often Qigong is also strongly affiliated with TCM.

TCM is a form of Oriental medicine, which includes other traditional East Asian medical systems such as traditional Japanese, and Korean medicine.

© Wikipedia has more !


Kampō (or kanpō, kampoo, kanpoo 漢方)
medicine is the Japanese study and adaptation of Traditional Chinese medicine. The basic works of Chinese medicine came to Japan between the 7th and 9th centuries. Since then, the Japanese have created their own unique herbal medical system and diagnosis. Kampo utilizes most of the Chinese medical system including acupuncture and moxibustion, but is primarily concerned with the study of herbs.

© Wikipedia has more !


Koojusan 香需散

© PHOTO 長刀香需

This special medicine is used in summer to prevent overheating of the body and also against summer diarrhea and skin rashes. It is carminative and astringent.
It is a pulver made of the dried leaves and stems of a plant from the Shiso family, naginata kooju ナギナタコウジュ, 長刀香需, Elsholtzia ciliata.

In the United States it is commonly called "crested latesummer mint."
Elsholtzia ciliata / Wikipedia

Perilla, beefsteak plant, shiso 紫蘇
kigo for summer
Perilla frutescens
green beefsteak plant, aoshiso 青紫蘇

! more KIGO with shiso !


"eating medicine" kusuri gui, kusurigui 薬喰
kigo for all winter

"seller of deer horn", roku uri 鹿売(ろくうり)
"food for the cold season" kangui 寒喰(かんぐい)
Special food that was known for its medical properties was eaten in winter. Friends would gather for example around a hodgepot of bear liver (and lots of rice wine), to try and keep healthy.

. momonjiya ももんじ屋 ・百獣屋 in Edo .
selling meat "from one-hundred wild animals"


medicine (cream) for split skin on hands and feet
hibi gusuri 胼薬(ひびぐすり)
kigo for late winter

akagire gusuri 皸薬(あかぎれぐすり)
Especially for women, who had to wash the dishes and cloths in the cold water, their fingers would split around the nails (hibi 胼 /akagire 皹/皸) and hurt very much.

frostbite medicine, shimoyake gusuri 霜焼薬(しもやけぐすり)


"medicine day" kusuri no hi 薬の日
kigo for mid-summer

collecting medicine, "hunting for medicine)
..... kusuri gari 薬狩 (くすりがり)
picking medical herbs, yakusoo tsumi 薬草摘(やくそうつみ)
"picking a hundred herbs" hyakusoo tsumi
..... 百草摘み(ひゃくそうつみ)

The actual day nowadays has been placed as May 5. This has been decided by the Associaton of Selling Medicine in 1987. So the mention of the exact day is a kigo for early summer.
The medicine of old, which has been freshly picked since early summer, had started selling a bit later. A special day, KUSURIBI 薬日, had already been fixed by Suiko Tenno as early as 611.

In summer, it is the time to pick the leaves and blossoms for medicine, in autumn, as seen below, is the time to dig for the roots.

kusudama 薬玉 (くすだま) "medicine ball"
choomeiru, choomei ru 長命縷(ちょうめいる)/ 続命縷(しょくめいる)
"threads of long life"
fragrance balls with different smells and threads of five different colors at the bottom. They are hung on the wall and protect from evil influences, especially on May 5, the Boy's Festival.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

kusudama 薬玉(クスダマ)is another word for kusamochi
mugwort rice cakes, eaten on the Girls Festival


"water of God", shinzui, shinsui
神水 (しんずい, しんすい)

kigo for mid-summer

"it is raining medicine", kusuri furu 薬降る (くすり ふる)
take no tamarimizu 竹の神水(たけのたまりみず) "water collected in bamboo"

According to the Asian Lunar Calender, when it rained on May 5, the water would collect in the bamboo joints. This was thought to be of special properties to ward off illness during the coming summer.
May 5, the Boy's Festival


"digging for medicine", kusuri horu 薬掘る
kigo for late autumn

collecting medicine, kusuri toru 薬採る(くすりとる)
digging for medical plants, yakusoo horu 薬草掘る(やくそうほる)
digging for the madder plant, akane horu 茜掘る(あかねほる)

kurara hiku 苦参引く (くららひく) pulling out kurara (Sophora flavescens)
kusa enju horu 草槐掘る(くさえんじゅほる)
digging for Sophora flavescens

senburi 千振 (せんぶり) Japanese green gentian
Swertia japonica
tooyaku 当薬(とうやく)
senburi toru 千振採る(せんぶりとる) pulling Japanese green gentian
. . . CLICK here for Photos !


kigo for summer

biwayootoo 枇杷葉湯 (びわようとう) biwa yootoo, biwa yoto
drink from dried loquat leaves

tooyootoo 桃葉湯 (とうようとう)
bath with (dried) leaves of the peach tree

koojusan 香薷散 (こうじゅさん)
pulver medicine against summer weariness

tenkafun 天瓜粉 (てんかふん)
yellow snake gourd powderagainst sweat


biwa yootoo uri 枇杷葉湯売り
vendor of loquat leaves medicine

They walked in Edo and other towns from the beginning of summer till the 8th lunar month.
The drink contained a brew of loquat leaves, dried salted plums (bainiku), licorice (kanzoo) and mokkoo 木香 Saussurea family plant.
This brew was used for all kinds of ailments on the great heat, including diarrhea and cholera.
The origin of this medicine was in Kyoto. In Edo it was sold by the store of Yamaguchiya 山口家. In Edo they often stood on bridges to sell their ware. They carried two boxes on a shoulder pole, one with tools to make hot water and prepare the brew. In the first few days they even gave away the drink for free.
The name "biwa yootoo" was also used for women who were willing to give in to the wishes of men . . . since it was sold free on bridges.

. kanzoo 甘草 licorice, liquoric .


CLICK for original LINK ... takenosuke.net

joosai uri, joosai-uri 定斎売 (じょうさいうり) vendor of Josai medicine

joosaiya, joosai-ya 定斎屋(じょうさいや)
During the Momoyama period, the owner of a medicine shop in Osaka, Murata Joosai, prepared this medicine according to Chinese tradition. It is supposed to help with all sorts of summer ailments. The vendors did not wear a straw hat in summer, since they were supposed to take this medicine and thus never become ill, even in the strongest heat wave.

source : wind.ap.teacup.com/6rats-winterflog

The vendors kept the medicine in two wooden boxes, carried on a shoulder pole (tenbin) and call out loud for the medicine, which was already popular in the times of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
The boxes had some metal fittings at the bottom drawers which produced a noisy sound too, kattan kattan カッタンカッタン to promote their trade.
When the folks of Edo heared that rattling noise, they knew it was a hot day ahead.


Kondoo Yoshimi 近藤芳美 Kondo Yoshimi, waka poet


Details about the
. Medicine used in SUMMER kigo   


Daranisuke 陀羅尼助
topic for haiku

This purely Japanese household medicine is especially used in Western Japan.

It is made by boiling the bark of the Chinese cork tree (kihada キハダ, Phellodendron amurense) for a while. It has an antibacterial effect in the digestive tract, especially the colon and was used for dysentery, cholera infections and against staphylococcus. It is a well-known cure for stomach complaints. Nowadays you can buy it in the Ominesan holy mountain area, where it has been handed down since the time of En no Gyoja. The medicine had been handed down amongst the mountain ascetics who helped spread it in all of Japan.

The ninja used this medicine in a slightly unusual way; a quick lick after days on a mission would make the ninja feel fully refreshed.

DARANI 陀羅尼 is a Buddhist kind of spell against evil influences.

CLICK for more photos !

haru no yo ya onna ni nomasu Daranisuke

Kawabata Bosha (Kawabata Boosha 川端茅舎, 1897 - 1941)
He suffered from tuberculosis.

spring evening -
I give her some
traditional medicine

Tr. Gabi Greve

. Daishi Darani joo 大師陀羅尼錠 
Kobo Daishi Darani Stomach Medicine .

from Daisho-in 大聖院, Miyajima

Worldwide use

Haiku is the best medicine.
A haiku a day keeps the doctor away.

Join Gabi Greve !

Things found on the way

Medicine sellers from Toyama 富山の薬売り

Toyama in the old Echigo province was famous for the medicine production before the modern area.
A lot of their medicine packs had a face of Daruma on it for good luck too.
Their sellers used to walk from home to home with their large backpacks and exchange the old unused medicine from last year to the new one. Most households kept a box with medicine for daily ailments. Toyama no kusuri uri, the medicine sellers, would keep their customers through many generations.

Lately, the medicine with Daruma has been revived and I have quite a few in my Daruma Museum.

- Toyama Medicine Sellers -


humanity kigo for all summer

medicine sellers from Echigo

dokukeshi uri 毒消売 (どくけしうり) vendors of antidote

dokukeshi 毒消(どくけし) antidote
For the many illnesses that occured in former times during summer, like food poisoning and upset stomach.
The medicine was made in Toyama and two girls in ikat kimono would walk together to sell it. Their loud voices calling out the merchandise were wellcomed by the villagers. Now these vendors have become obsolete.


Daruma himself was considered a healer and when children in the Edo period got ill, especially with the smallpox, a doll was placed beside the bed to ensure healing.

Daruma, Smallpox and the color Red, the Double Life of a Patriarch

Daruma Museum Japan

Yakushi Nyorai 薬師如来、Buddha of Medicine

Medicine Buddha of Tibet  


sansei 三聖 three most famous doctors of their time:
. Manase Dōsan 曲直瀬道三 Manase Dosan (1507 - 1594) .
田代三喜 Tashiro Sanki (1465 - 1537)
永田徳本 Nagata Tokuhon (1513 - 1630)


Yakuzen 薬膳 ( やくぜん) "Eating Medicine"
dishes prepared according to the teachings of Chinese traditional medicine.
Including the ingredients given above.

Fresh food of the season is the best medicine.

The liver starts to be active. You want to boost the physical power.
Shellfish, salmon, celery, apples, potatoes.

Heat will affect the heart.
Cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, banana, pinapple, oranges to cool the body.

Autum :
Dry air might affect the lungs.
Radish to warm your lungs.

Cold affects the blood circulation.
Oysters, carottes, radishs and other rood vegetables.
Keep the body warm, strengthen the kidneys.

yurine 百合根 Lilium auratum


. go oo en 牛黄円・牛王円 round tablets of ox gall stones
and the sacred seals of the Kumano shrines
Go-Oo Hooin 牛王宝印 sacred seal of the ox treasure


koojusan inu ga nebutte kumo no mine

Kikaku 其角

The dog is licking
The koojusan medicine;
Billowing clouds.

Tr. Blyth


nomikiri shi tabi no hi kazu ya koojusan

many days on the road
with nothing left any more -
my summer medicine

Tan Taigi 炭太祇 たんたいぎ(1738-1791)
(Tr. Gabi Greve)


. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .

ôedo ya tada shi go mon mo kusuri-gui

Great Edo--
four or five pennies
for winter medicine

Tr. David Lanoue

hitori mi ya ryôgoku e dete kusuri kuu

my life alone--
all the way to Ryogoku Bridge
for medicine

Tr. David Lanoue

. Ryoogoku, Ryōgoku 両国 Ryogoku and bridge 両国橋  .


medicine day -
the old cat nibbles
some weeds

Gabi Greve, May 2007

enrich your energies
to dispel medicines
trees extend helping hand

© Aju Mukhopadhyay, India, May 2007


isha goroshi sagashite aruku kusuri no hi

walking around
looking for cranesbill -
day of medicine

Yamada Michiko 山田満子
ishagoroshi is a medical plant. Literally it means "killing the doctor", because people get so healthy they will not need him any more.


kigo for early summer

gen no shooko 現の証拠 (げんのしょうこ) cranesbill
..... isha irazu 医者いらず(いしゃいらず)
"no need for a doctor"
tachimachisoo たちまち草(たちまちそう)
mikoshigusa 神輿草(みこしぐさ) mikoshi plant

Geranium nepalense


eiyoozai nonde hakusho no kusuri uri

drinking a health drink
at the beginning of summer -
the medicine seller

Yamada Ichiryoo 山田一良


juuyaku ya kono yo ni tochuu gesha o shite

strong heartleaf medicine -
getting off the train
halfway in this life

Fujita Kumiko 篠田くみ子
Juuyaku, dokudami (Houttuynia cordata), a strong medical plant, literally "worth ten medicines".

Heartleaf, lizardtail, dokudami ドクダミ, juuyaku 鱼腥草
kigo for summer
Houttuynia cordata

Related words

***** Moxibustion (moxabustion) Japan


Mythical 16th-century disease critters


Long ago in Japan, human illness was commonly believed to be the work of tiny malevolent creatures inside the body. Harikikigaki 針聞書(はりききがき), a book of medical knowledge written in 1568 by a now-unknown resident of Osaka, introduces 63 of these creepy-crawlies and describes how to fight them with acupuncture and herbal remedies. The Kyushu National Museum, which owns the original copy of Harikikgaki, claims the book played an important role in spreading traditional Chinese medicine in Japan.

Here are a few of the beasties found in the book.
Kanshaku, Hizo-no-kesshaku, Kanmushi; Gyochu, Haimushi; Kagemushi; Hizo-no-kasamushi, Akuchu; Haishaku, Kakuran-no-mushi; Umakan; Koseu (Kosho); Kameshaku; Koshi-no-mushi; Chishaku, Hizo-no-mushi; Kiukan and Kishaku; Jinshaku...
CHECK them all here
© www.pinktentacle.com

Japanese is here: Kyushu National Museum


Other KIGO with medicine

Cooked rice with wolfberry leaves (kuko meshi) Japan

Tonburi berries from Akita

Deafness-curing sake (jirooshu)





Anonymous said...

Plenty of good things
around us in nature to keep
us healthy and fit.

(c) Aju Mukhopadhyay, India 2007

Gabi Greve said...

More DARUMA medicine bags !


Anonymous said...

Korean Folk Medicine

In ancient times illness was thought to be due to something entering the body, and recovery meant ridding oneself of this contamination. Shamans, usually female, were employed to drive away this evil spirit.

The original function of the shaman was not just to drive evil spirits from the body, but to charm away all the spirits that bring unhappiness. The shaman also performed rites invoking the gods' blessings for good fortune, the birth of a male child or a good harvest, etc.

To cure the sick, the shaman made offerings of food and wine, and sometimes even sacrifices of animals, symbolizing the ill person. In return for the offerings, the shaman would request the spirits to leave the body and home of the sick person and never return.
Making the entreaty, the shaman would sing, chant, dance and pray.

If this was not effective, a more active and hostile approach was made. The locality of the spirits would be sought out and if found, beaten, shut up in a bottle, floated down the river, buried in the ground or wounded with a sharp knife or stick through a performance that symbolized these actions.

These performances, lasting anywhere from an hour to a week, were accompanied by music.

Fortunetellers were often consulted in the treatment of illness. Through divination, it was believed they could determine the causes of the sickness and advise an appropriate treatment.

Not only illness, but also misfortune, and calamities of various kinds, were attributed to evil spirits. To protect against these forces, Koreans would often post pujok, or talismans, at certain places in and around the house such as the gate, the ceiling beam, over the door, and in the barn.

Most talismans were painted in red ink on yellow or white mulberry paper. Red has traditionally been thought to possess the power to suppress evil, and for this reason, red beans, red clay, red gowns and other red items are often used in shamanistic rites.

Korean talismans range in style from highly structured, geometric patterns to free-form swirls and doodles. Some consist of a single Chinese ideograph and others incorporate lines of Chinese or Sanskrit into a maze of effigies, figures, star charts and religious symbols.

Used not only for exorcising evil spirits, some talismans were also seen as assisting those in need of special help.

The employment of such talismans is an involved process requiring rites of purification, performing chants, painting the talisman, and posting it in the appropriate place. At the beginning of the lunar year, Buddhist monks often prepare talismans and send them to their followers for posting.

The beginning of springtime is an important season and, by custom, families usually post a talisman in the hope that spring will bring happiness and harmony to the family.

Information provided by the Korean Embassy

Anonymous said...

History and Traditional Uses of Kihada

Phellodendron amurense Rupr.

Kihada is native to Japan, where it grows wild in the mountains. A deciduous tree growing up to fifteen meters, it has outer bark of a cork or buff color. In Japanese, Ki means yellow and hada means skin, which indicates one of the interesting features of the tree. If you peel the buff outer bark, a bright yellow inner cortex is revealed. It is this inner cortex that is used for medicinal purposes.

Traditionally, this inner bark is harvested in summer. Contemporary research has proven the wisdom of this process. At that time of the year, the bark's most active constituent, berberine, is in its highest concentration. Once again, science has established that the ancients really knew what they were doing!

One very unique and interesting use of this plant has to do with record keeping. Kihada bark is used as source of yellow color dye - with an added feature. It repels insects. As a result, people used Kihada bark to dye important papers - birth, marriage, death certificates and the like! Papers you would not want eaten by insects.

Kihada is one of the most important plants in Japanese folk medicine, so important, it is registered in the Japanese Medicines Codex, an honor awarded very few herbs !

Legend goes that a famous Japanese Buddhist monk, Kukai, went to China and brought back a formula for a powerfully healing concoction. The concoction was called Daranisuke.

The monk brought this prescription back to Japan early in the ninth century AD. The prescription was very simple in composition. Kihada cortex plus two other herbs, the root of Gentiana scabra and the leaves of Aucuba japonica.

Like Kihada, Gentiana scabra is a digestive bitter. Aucuba japonica is a demulcent which adds viscosity to the mixture. The three herbs are decocted several times until a thick fluid extract is produced. This fluid extract is then dried until a solid extract results. The extract is extremely bitter which makes it, amongst other things, an excellent digestive tonic! Bitters increase the digestive tract's production of essential digestive enzymes.

So bitter was this herbal extract, monks used it for an amusing and practical purpose. Monks would take a small amount in their mouth to wake themselves up when they found themselves falling asleep while studying. History reveals that as monks spread the word of Buddha, they also spread the word of Daranisuke and Kihada.

Since then Daranisuke has become a household remedy, with many traditional uses to back it up. It is a digestive tonic used in stomachache, gastroenteritis, jaundice, diarrhea, food poisoning, hangovers, nausea and indigestion. It is also used to treat boils, ulcers, conjunctivitis, cystitis, dermatitis, dysentery, eczema, enteritis, meningitis, acute conjunctivitis, fever, flux, gonorrhea, leucorrhea, melaena, rheumatism, stomatitis, urethritis, vaginitis, and worms!

If one were to summarize Kihada's use, it could be seen as a healing agent for the skin and mucous membranes. It is used internally and applied externally for all chronic skin conditions. The mucous membrane lines the digestive, reproductive, urinary, and respiratory tract and many of the problems affecting those systems are rooted in mucous membrane malfunction. For mucous membrane disease, Kihada is used internally.

Anonymous said...

das ist ein Thema, das mich sehr interessiert
danke, liebe Gabi

Gabi Greve - saffron said...

safuran no shibe kawakashite kanpoo i

he dries the stamen
of autumn saffron -
doctor for Chinese medicine

Yasaki Masako 矢崎正子
source : NHK Haiku October 2012

Gabi Greve - Buson said...

Yosa Buson

tsuma ya ko no negao mo mietsu kusurigui

wife and children asleep
he also glances at their faces -
eating medicine

Tr. Gabi Greve

MORE about sleep

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Daishi Daranisuke medicine
Shin Daibutsu-Ji 新大仏寺 New Daibutsu Temple
Iga town, Mie, Shin-Daibutsuji 三重県伊賀市富永1238

Gabi Greve - Kappa said...

Kappa the Water Goblin

- Kappa no kizugusuri カッパのきず薬 / 河童の傷薬
Kappa makes an ointment for wounds -
河董膏 Kappa Cream

Gabi Greve said...

The Science of Chinese Buddhism: Early Twentieth-Century Engagements – August 11, 2015
by Erik J. Hammerstrom (Author)

Kexue, or science, captured the Chinese imagination in the early twentieth century, promising new knowledge about the world and a dynamic path to prosperity. Chinese Buddhists embraced scientific language and ideas to carve out a place for their religion within a rapidly modernizing society.

Examining dozens of previously unstudied writings from the Chinese Buddhist press, this book maps Buddhists' efforts to rethink their traditions through science in the initial decades of the twentieth century. Buddhists believed science offered an exciting, alternative route to knowledge grounded in empirical thought, much like their own. They encouraged young scholars to study subatomic and relativistic physics while still maintaining Buddhism's vital illumination of human nature and its crucial support of an ethical system rooted in radical egalitarianism. Showcasing the rich and progressive steps Chinese religious scholars took in adapting to science's rising authority, this volume offers a key perspective on how a major Eastern power transitioned to modernity in the twentieth century and how its intellectuals anticipated many of the ideas debated by scholars of science and Buddhism today.
more at amazon com

Gabi Greve said...

The Nobel Prize versus traditional Chinese medicine
by Orac on October 12, 2015
Last week, in response to the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Chinese scientist Youyou Tu, who isolated Artemisinin and validated it as a useful treatment for malaria back in the 1970s, I pointed out that the discovery was a triumph of natural products pharmacology, not of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). So did Scott Gavura, a pharmacist who blogs at my favorite other blog, Science-Based Medicine, who also emphasized that the path from TCM remedy for fever to pill used to treat malaria was the very model of how pharmacologists isolate medicines from plants. Basically, we both noted that Artemisinin is extracted from wormwood, but that the process of turning it into a drug involved a lot of trial and error, the elucidation of which wormwood plants contained enough Artemisinin to be useful for manufacturing larges amounts of it, and chemical modification fo the compound to make it more potent. None of this had anything to do with the basic ideas at the heart of TCM, such as the five elements or the imbalances in heat, damp, and the like to which TCM ascribes the cause of all diseases.
Read on

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

yakudansu, kusuridansu 薬箪笥 chest for Chinese medicine

more about tansu 箪笥

Gabi Greve said...

Pierce Salguero wrote
... the launching of
a scholarly blog site for Asian medical humanities.
We currently have 50 blogs contributed by Carla Nappi, Sabine Wilms, Daniel Trambaiolo, Michael Stanley-Baker, Jonathan Pettit, and myself.

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Sugiyama Waichi 杉山和一 (1614–1694)
was a Japanese acupuncturist, widely regarded as the "Father of Japanese Acupuncture".


Gabi Greve said...

Woodblocks associated with Japanese medicine, healing:
There is an amazing resource online at the University of California.
Their entire woodblock is related to medicine and health, and most of it is online and well-documented.

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Sennin no shokuji 仙人の食事 Food of the Sennin
The Elixir of Life and Immortality