If you visit Takayama or Shirakawago and Gokayama, Toyama is easy to include in your itinerary. Since Hokuriku Shinkansen started the services to Hokuriku region, it has become easy to get to Toyama from Tokyo. Toyama is famouse for selling medicines which started in mid 16th century.
The Toyama medicine merchants’ system of selling medicine is very unique. The merchants first deliver several kinds of medicine to consumers who use them before they pay. Consumers can use medicine whenever they need and they don’t have to find doctors when they get ill. The merchants will come back to the consumers, receive the payment for the medicine they used and restock the medicine again for the consumers.
In Toyama, there is a museum of medical merchants Kokando where you can learn the history.
In the museum, old packages of medicine are displayed. Their retro-looking designs are somewhat nostalgic and also cute. Each package has a picture which explains the symptom that medicine covers. Here are photos of those wonderful packages.
The packages always have pictures so that even illiterate people can know what they are for. The medicine for hangover has a picture of a bear. It is because the ingredient of the medicine is derived from bear’s cholecystis.
Address of Kokando Museum: 9-1 Umezawa-cho 2-chome, Toyama City, Toyama
Opehing Hours: 9am – 5pm (closed during New Year period)