Senkintan

Proved by Princess Murakumo
Since 1875

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Senkintan's History

Sanuki Okauchi Senkintan Pharmaceutical Sellers

In the land of Sanuki, where Kagawa Prefecture faces the Seto Inland Sea, the climate is mild, and since long, long ago the scenic landscape has been relatively safe from natural disasters. In that same Sanuki, from the Meiji Era, to the Taisho Era, and up through the war in the Showa Era, spanning over three generations, Okauchi Senkintan sold pharmaceuticals as a part of the Sanuki phamaceutical industry that had spread throughout the nation. The medicine and pharmaceuticals we're talking about are today's home remedies. During this era, Sanuki was called the kingdom of home remedies, and at its peak there were over 300 large and small household medicine manufacturers in the prefecture with the production of home remedies being one of Sanuki's major industries.

One of these medicine dealers in Sanuki was Senkintan, whose history starts with the ideas of the first generation Okauchi Yoshimitsu. Senkintan was a chocolate-colored medicine that was made into a kind of bar with silver applied to it, so that there were 1cm squares marked out, which one would break off and chew or suck. It seemed to work especially well for the abdomen, and according to longstanding historical records, when the aunt of Emperor Meiji, the nun Murakumo of Zuiryuji Temple in Kyoto, was on a pilgrimage in March of 1887 and staying at Takamatsu's Nichimyouji Temple, she suddenly started experiencing intense abdominal pain. She was given Senkintan, and started to feel better immediately. She was elated, and allowed the use of her name with the product as a kind of trademark; thereafter, Senkintan began to spread to the wider world.

In order to sell Senkintan, a total of 200 to over 1000 traders dealing in various medicines went all over the country, and from the tools they carried, to costumes, songs, etc. they found various ways to be entertaining, which gained popularity and caught on with adults and children in various places. They would walk with a white umbrella dyed with "Senkintan," wear long underwear, carry big bags on their shoulders, and sing a song as they walked. Some of the words they would sing in a jolly tenor were as follows.

This is the Okauchi family's Senkintan made in Sanuki, Takamatsu.
This medicine will ease the discomfort in your paunch.
Gall stones, heartburn, and chest pains!
A tightness in your belly or a dizzy headache that makes it hard to stand!
For colic or if it's hard to breath, children come see us.
Sick from travel or just hungover, come to our town in east Sanuki in Takamatsu before you get to Kotohira.
Okauchi family's recipe for Senkintan; the seller's are working hard, walking the roads, hey! hey!

It is said that those selling the product, every year, would leave Takamatsu in March and return in October before the festival at the Iwaseo Hachiman shrine, and the songs of this group of traveling salespeople became a kind of seasonal poetry throughout various parts of the country.

Quoted from remarks in the 6th volume of the "Sanuki Folklore Map (Sanuki Minzoku-zu-shi" of Arai Tomizou