The oldest town for Kusurigari (medicinal herb and animal hunting event) in Japan

Sasayuri-Ann is in Uda city where medicinal herb has been famous since the 1400 years before (the Asuka period). Emperess Suiko was the first female and the 33rd monarch of Japan. The “Nihonshoki” (Chronicles of Japan) records Kusurigari was hold as the event in the Imperial Court at Udano (Uda Ono) in May of the 19th year of Empress Suiko’s reign (611 C.E.). This is thought to be the oldest historical reference to medicinal herb collection. Women picked medicinal herbs while men hunted deer for their antler velvet which was thought to have medicinal value.

The origin of Kusurigari was the event among the ordinary people picking up medicinal herbs on May 5th in the midstream of the Yangtze river in ancient China or the Goguryeo royal event hunting deer or wild boar on March 3rd. In the Suiko period, they would blend the aspects of two different culture harmoniously with the event in the Imperial Court of Japan. The primary reason why Uda was chosen as the hunting field during Japan’s Yamato reign was thought to be connected to “Shenxian thought”. The idea is an ancient China's folk belief about the eternity of human life in the existence of mountain wizards. People searched the medicine which enables them to be immortal based on the belief. “Nihonshoki” and “Nihon Ryoiki” (set of three books of Buddhist stories) record local people who had been eating “lawn grass” or “Chinese mesona” in Uda city were noted for their longevity and were able to fly in the sky like Tennin (Heavenly Person). It shows Uda has been thought as a place where gods and immortals lived. The other reason why Uda was seen as a “sacrificed place” is thought of as the production of mercury (cinnabar). Cinnabar used for ancient tomb and Shi Zhu (burying ritual) between the 3rd to 4th centuries was the main component for elixir which gives immortal life. However, it was impossible to take mercury which had highly poisonous. Therefore, they would try to take mercury indirectly by drinking pond water, eating wild game meat, wild grass and vegetables, mushrooms and fruits in Uda where enough mercury were produced. Homeopathy theory has been widely spread in Uda since ancient times and up to the present.

The oldest existing private medicinal herb garden “Morino kyuyakuen old medical herb garden” is affected by that theory. This ancient homeopathy theory may be proved from the fact that many pharmaceutical companies such as “TSUMURA & CO. = the former Tsumura Juntendo”, “Astellas Pharma Inc. = the former Fujisawa Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.”, “ROHTO Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.”, “Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited = Ohmiya Chobei who established the firm to sell Japanese and Chinese medicines comes from Uda city”, “Sasaokayakuhin Corporation” which is famous for its medicine “Inochinohaha”, “Kotaro pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.” and “Aifu (pharmaceutical company)” were established in Uda city. The distribution of pharmaceutical products had been flourished by Edo period. Now, many farmers produce the medicinal herb “Yamato Touki (Angelica acutiloba)” which has grown wild from a long time ago in Uda city. The perennial “Yamato Touki” which belongs to apiaceae and is found on the all-time herbalism list has been used for the medicine especially for women as an important crude drug. Velvet antler which is the dried cartilaginous antler in the growth stage of deer has been used in traditional Chinese medicine and treated as the panacea which are thought to be useful for immorality.

Sasayuri-Ann offers vegetarian or vegan dinner which is made from “Yamato Touki” and medicinal herbs made in Nara. Herbal bath which makes you to feel refreshed and relaxed is also available.

As countermeasures against covid-19, high antiviral activity medicinal herbs such as “olive, echinacea, holy basil Tulsi and allium ochotense” are grown in our private herb garden.

(About 4 images of “Kusurigari” in this page)

This large mural painting is on the wall over the slope in the main building of Hoshi University in Tokyo and was completed in May 1943. It shows the scene of Kusurigari in Uda city. Mr. Hajime Hoshi who established Hoshi University and Hoshi Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. suggested to create it as 3rd anniversary of Hoshi Pharmaceutical School. 6 painters who were employed by Hoshi Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. drew the mural painting realistically about “Kusurigari” and “Rokujyo hunting” in Suiko period after studying historical research. We would like to express our deep appreciation to Hoshi University for the kind support to offer the mural painting which is corroborative that Uda city is the oldest town for Kusurigari in Japan. Sasayuri-Ann owner Tetsuji Matsubayashi about Mr. Hajime Hoshi)