A March 31st article in the Shinano Mainichi Shinbun 信濃毎日新聞 introduces a plan to create a hyakusou-no-mori 百草の森 in Otaki village. The project is a joint venture between the Otaki village government and the “Nagoya Citizens Ontake Vacation Village” (Nagoya-shimin-kyuka-mura 名古屋市民おんたけ休暇村), which is located in Otaki.
Hyakusou is a traditional herbal medicine with a history stretching back to the Edo Period (1603-1867). The medicine was first developed by mountain ascetics who were devoted to, and did religious practice on, Mt. Ontake (御嶽山), Japan’s second highest volcano and long an object of reverence in Japan. Hyakusou, which literally means “one hundred plants” was first given to villagers in Otaki by the ascetic Fukan-gyouja (普観行者) after they assisted him in “opening” Mt. Ontake for religious practice. This original medicine has been developed through the years and is now manufactured and sold by at least two companies based in Nagano. Hyakusou, which is an extract, is now often sold as small pellets, called “hyakusou-gan” (百草丸)-the character “gan”(丸) meaning circle or ball.
Hyakusou’s primary ingredient is the bark of the amur cork tree (Phellodendron amurense, or ki-ha-da キハダ in Japanese). The Shinano Mainichi article reports that
400 of this species will be planted in the hyakusou-no-mori being planned in Otaki. As a medicine hyakusou is used mostly for stomach ailments-pretty much whatever ails you in that particular region of the body. Pop twenty of the little black pellets before a night of drinking and you’ll see jut how effective hyakusou can be. Also, hyakusou is one hundred percent organic, so you can feel safe taking it over and over again.
Nagano Prefecture Pharmaceutical, located in Otaki Village (王滝村), and Hino Parmaceutical, located in Kiso Village (木祖村) both provide tours for those more interested in learning about hyakusou (see links below).
http://www.ontake-kyukamura.com/ (Japanese only)
“Nagano Prefecture Pharmaceutical” (Nagano-ken-seiyaku 長野県製薬)
“Hino Parmaceutical” (Hino-seiyaku 日野製薬)