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Outstanding to see! The Naito Museum of Pharmaceutical Science in Gifu Prefecture is amazing!

Outstanding to see! The Naito Museum of Pharmaceutical Science in Gifu Prefecture is amazing!


Drugs are an indispensable and familiar part of our lives, but few people know when and how they were created. The Naito Museum of Pharmaceutical Science in Gifu Prefecture is a place where visitors can learn about the history of pharmaceuticals. This article introduces many highlights of the museum.

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This place is amazing! Naito Museum of Pharmaceutical Science

The Naito Museum of Pharmaceutical Science is located in Kakamigahara City, Gifu Prefecture, and is the first museum in Japan dedicated to pharmaceuticals.
It was established in 1971 by Toyoji Naito, founder of major pharmaceutical manufacturer Eisai Co.

The museum houses approximately 65,000 materials related to the history and culture of medicine, the handling of drugs, and knowledge of health, as well as 62,000 related books.
Of these, approximately 2,000 items are on permanent display. The actual pharmaceutical tools used at the time and reconstructions of drugs are displayed along with the history of the company.

A variety of easy-to-understand and fun exhibits

"Some people may think that exhibits of pharmaceuticals look stuffy and boring ...... ", but the exhibits at the Naito Museum of Pharmaceuticals are all very interesting!

For example, there are many materials on display, such as medicinal plants used in prehistoric times and a human wheeled medicine machine used in the Edo period, that even a quick glance at them will give you an idea of what they are like.

Even if something is difficult, it comes with an easy-to-understand explanation panel, so even those who are not familiar with medicine can enjoy it.
It is also recommended that parents and children go on a tour together, as even children can understand the content if an adult explains it to them.

Free tours available

Surprisingly, admission to the Naito Museum of Pharmaceutical Science is free!
Whatever it is, Eisai is making it available to the public free of charge as part of its contribution to society.
You need to register at the reception desk, but it is very nice to be able to visit the museum for free at any time.

The special exhibitions, which change once a year, are also worth seeing.

In addition to permanent exhibits, the Naito Museum of Pharmaceutical Science holds special exhibitions with different themes each year.
The themes were researched and studied by the curators, and in FY2021, a special exhibition was held under the theme "Infectious Diseases Afflicting the Japanese People and New Coronavirus Infections ".
In 2022, the exhibition will continue to focus on new coronaviruses with the theme "The World of Viruses - From Discovery to 2021 New Coronaviruses ".

Highlights of the Naito Museum of Pharmaceutical Science

The highlights of Naito Memorial Kusuri are the main building and the exhibition hall!
Since there are a large number of materials here, the permanent exhibition alone is quite worth seeing.

machine for making people's cars and carts

Upon entering the main building, the first thing that catches the eye is the jinrikisha drug machine.
It is said to be a reconstruction of one used in the Edo period (1603-1867), and this machine was used to powder medicinal herbs in those days.

Two adults step inside a large wheel and turn a gearwheel, which moves the stone wheel.

statue of Shirasawa (white elephant)

Then, entering the exhibition hall, the first thing you meet is the legendary divine beast, Shirasawa-sama.
"Shirasawa (白沢) "and write "Hutaku "
Six horns and six eyes...a visual that might make a child cry uncontrollably, but in fact, the shirasawa is a great creature that has long been believed to have the power to ward off disease and misfortune.

Many people in Japan may think of "amabie" when they think of disease-fighting, but shirasawa is a superstar of disease-fighting that has been handed down from even older times.
Originally an imaginary creature from China, it was believed to appear before virtuous people to ward off disease.

Therefore, it is said that during the Edo period (1603-1867), many travelers in Japan carried a picture of Shirasawa as a good-luck charm, believing that it would protect them from misfortune and illness.
Even during the cholera epidemic in the late Edo period, Shirasawa's paintings were sold.
In these days of "With Corona," if you visit the Naito Museum of Pharmaceutical Science and Industry, be sure to wish Shirasawa good health.


It is said that in the days when medicines were not as plentiful as they are today, people tried to protect themselves from illness by praying to gods and Buddha or relying on spells.
This is clearly shown on the ema (votive picture tablet) displayed in the "Wishes for Health "corner.

The ema we are familiar with have words such as "Pray for good health "and "for good health ", but at that time, only the illustrations were drawn literally.
There are many ema (votive picture tablet) that you may understand, such as the pine tree drawn upside down "praying for healing of upside-down eyelashes "and the deer illustration "praying for safe delivery ". Please check them out as well.

Medicinal Plants and Animals

"The Dawn of Medicine "section presents methods for curing illnesses that people have learned from their past experiences.
Of particular note are medicinal plants and animals.

In the past, when people lived by eating plants, trees, and insects in the great outdoors, it was not always possible to distinguish what was edible and what was poisonous, as is the case today.
This sometimes led to vomiting and belching ....... In the worst cases, it must have caused death.
However, it is said that through such experiences, human beings acquired wisdom and began to incorporate drugs and medicine into their lives, albeit in a primitive way.

The zone where medicinal plants and animals are exhibited is filled with cicada shells, snake dragonfly larvae, dried snakes, and more.

The explanatory panel also describes what effects and benefits are available, and it is educational just to look at it.

meridian puppet

Another exhibit to see in the Dawn of Medicine zone is the Meridian Doll (Keiraku Ningyo).
After the 5th century, Oriental medicine spread "herbalism "and "Chinese medicine "to cure the human body from the inside, and "acupuncture and moxibustion "to cure the body from the outside.
Meridian dolls were used to study acupuncture points, so-called acupoints, and were used in the study of acupuncture and moxibustion medicine.

It is quite powerful when seen up close.
Near the meridian dolls, there are also exhibits called "side man sutra diagrams" (側人経穴之図), which are also used to study meridians, and "moxa moxa diagrams" (灸艾図), which are illustrations of moxa being applied to a patient.

Zone for the manufacture and trade of pharmaceuticals

Then go to "Making Drugs ""Trading Drugs "Zone.
This one is especially full of highlights among the various zones!
Tools used in the development of medicine and the production of pills and dispersants are on display, as well as mannequin dolls that recreate the conditions of the time.

This is a round medicine measuring spoon. Although they are now made by machine, they were used in those days to measure and shape the quantity of medicines.

Don't miss the zone displaying the mannequins of a drug dealer!
This is a nice brother selling loquat leaf tea (biwa-yotou) from the Edo period.
Biwa leaf tea is a medicinal tea made from loquat leaves with nickel and sweet tea, and is said to be effective against summer fatigue and diarrhea.
In those days, they sometimes let people drink in front of their stores for publicity.

medicine box

On the second floor of the exhibition hall, tools for measuring drugs and cosmetics from the past are on display.
This is a medicine case from those days. Yes, it is an inro (medicine case) familiar from those period dramas.
It is surprising that they were actually used as medicine cabinets! It seems that there were many different types of inro (medicine cases).

Mortars and pestles from around the world

"The Overseas Collection "zone displays mortars and pestles used to grind and mix medicines.
In the West, many mortars are made of metal because they were also used for the purpose of crushing drugs.

Old Medicines

"Modern Pharmaceuticals The "zone displays a variety of familiar drugs, albeit in a different design than today.

The Showa-era feel of the product can be felt from its appearance. Nowadays, there are even individually packaged versions, and the world has become a more convenient place.

Experience Corner

After learning about medicines, let's finish up by playing in the hands-on corner where you can measure your height, weight, blood pressure, body fat percentage, and more.
You can also print out the results to take home as a memory!

Not to be missed! Also check out the Medicinal Botanical Garden!

One of the highlights of the Naito Museum of Pharmaceutical Science is the medicinal plant garden that stretches in front of the exhibition hall.
About 700 kinds of medicinal herbs and trees are grown here, and like the exhibition hall, they can be seen for free!

A variety of flowers can be seen in this medicinal botanical garden depending on the season.
In fact, it is as popular as the exhibition hall.

After all, the plants being grown are interesting!
From what is said to be the elixir of immortality: ......

The plants are highly toxic and even cause headaches and dizziness if consumed.
There are also plants used as raw materials for essential oils and familiar plants used in herbal teas, making it a sight to behold.
Some of them "can't get around in a short time! "Some of them say, "I can't go around in a short time!

These are cacao nuts, the raw material for chocolate.
You will be surprised at how much larger it is than you imagined.
Cacao is used as an ingredient in suppositories because its oils and fats melt at body temperature.

Vanilla beans are also used in ice cream and other products.
Today, vanilla beans have a well-established image of being used for flavoring, but it is surprising to learn that vanilla beans were also used as a medicinal herb.

In addition to these plants, you will also see many plants that you often hear about, such as chamomile, basil, and kumquats.
When you visit the Naito Museum of Pharmaceutical Science, be sure to check out the Medicinal Botanical Garden.


The Naito Memorial Museum of Pharmaceutical Science is free of charge, yet is a great place to visit.
The exhibits are easy to understand and full of interesting items, so even those with no knowledge of pharmaceuticals can enjoy the tour and highly recommend it.
The time will surely fly by as you tour the exhibition halls and the medicinal plant garden!
If you are going on a trip to Gifu Prefecture, or if you live nearby, please visit us.

"Facility Information "
Address: 1 Kawashima Takehaya-cho, Kakamigahara-shi, Gifu 501-6195
Phone number: 0586-89-2101
Hours: 9:30-16:00 (last admission at 15:30)
Closed: Sunday, Monday, Year-end and New Year holidays

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