Okigusuri 置き薬 – “Use first, pay later” medicine

kusuri

In my June 18 column in The Japan Times, I wrote about okigusuri 置き薬, a very old way of selling medicine in which a selection of products are left in a home or office without payment or deposit. You use what you need and pay for only what you’ve used. This sales method is called senyō kōri 先用後利 (use first, pay later).

Here is a picture of pre-war okigusuri products. The woven baskets on either side at the back are the cases salesmen used to carry them door-to-door.

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If you understand Japanese, or are happy to look at the pictures, check out this NHK video for children about Toyama Prefecture. To skip ahead to the material on ogikusuri, click on “scene 03″(on the right side of the screen). An interview with an okigusuri salesman starts at about 7 minutes, 20 seconds and follows him on a typical sales call.

The 5-minute video below shows okigusuri in use in Mongolia and Thailand. It’s quite interesting and has English subtitles.

A copy of World Health Organization materials reporting on the Mongolian project can be downloaded here.

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