VI-3. “Comparative Study on the Use of Medicinal Plants in Indonesia and Japan: Case Study of Medicinal Plants Production Areas near the Former Royal Capitals” (R3 FY2021)

  • Project Leader : Sugino Yoshimi (Kyoto University, Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies)

Outline of Research

This study compares how medicinal plants have been a part of people’s daily life and healthcare in areas near the former royal capitals of Indonesia and Japan, and traces how their usage has transitioned over time. In Indonesia, use of the traditional herbal medicine jamu spread from the former Mataram Kingdom in Java to ordinary people. In Japan, the former capital and cultural center of Kyoto has also influenced the development of traditional medicine. Today, holistic health care is being reappraised to mitigate increasing chronic diseases and mental disorders. This study conducts a literature review and fieldwork to explore and compare the influence of the respective royal capitals on the modern use of medicinal plants.


This study investigates how the exsistence of royal capitals has influenced the usage of medicinal plants to this day in both Japan and Indonesia. Despite their environmental differences, both countries had medicinal plant production areas near their former royal capitals. This study explores the universality, similarity, and regional peculiarity of the two countries.

Using both a literature review and fieldwork, the study will elucidate how traditional and folk medicine and medicinal plants have been used and how suppliers, users, and policy makers have interacted with each other, focusing on the role of the royal capitals in the usage and spread of medicinal plants. The study compares Japan, where a reassessment of alternative medicine is underway amid mainstream use of modern medicine, with Indonesia, where traditional and folk medicines continue to play important roles as modern medicine becomes mainstream and a universal insurance system is being initiated.

We expect the study to provide insights into and a reevaluation of traditional and folk medicine and medicinal plants, and how they will be able to contribute, along with modern medicine, to community health in the future. This research offers a valuable case study of traditional and folk medicine and medicinal plant usage to this day, thus providing a practical study for community health in both countries. Its comparative analysis will also contribute a meaningful case study to the field of area studies.

Jamu beverage (in a glass center of the photo) sold at a stall in the Royal Palace of Mangkunegaran, Indonesia (Photo by Yoshimi Sugino, August 2019)

Medicinal herbs from Mt. Ibuki used as herbal bath and herbal tea.(Photo by Yoshimi Sugino, October 2020, at Mt. Ibuki Culture Museum, Shiga Japan)