Open Access Research article

Current status of Kampo medicine curricula in all Japanese medical schools

Makoto Arai1*, Shuichi Katai2, Shin-ichi Muramatsu3, Takao Namiki4, Toshihiko Hanawa5 and Shun-ichiro Izumi6

Author affiliations

1 Department of Oriental Medicine, Tokai University School of Medicine, 143 Shimokasuya, Isehara, Kanagawa, 259-1193, Japan

2 Faculty of Health Sciences, Tsukuba University of Technology, 4-12-7 Kasuga, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-8521, Japan

3 Division of Oriental Medicine, Center for Community Medicine, Jichi Medical University, 3311-1 Yakushiji, Shimotsuke, Tochigi, 329-0498, Japan

4 Department of Japanese-Oriental (Kampo) Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, 1-8-1 Inohana, Chuo-ku, Chiba, 260-8670, Japan

5 Oriental Medicine Research Center, Kitasato University, 5-9-1 Shirokane, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 108-8641, Japan

6 Department of Academic and Student Services, Tokai University School of Medicine, 143 Shimokasuya, Isehara, Kanagawa, 259-1193, Japan

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:207  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-207

Published: 2 November 2012



There have been a few but not precise surveys of the current status of traditional Japanese Kampo education at medical schools in Japan. Our aim was to identify problems and suggest solutions for a standardized Kampo educational model for all medical schools throughout Japan.


We surveyed all 80 medical schools in Japan regarding eight items related to teaching or studying Kampo medicine: (1) the number of class meetings, target school year(s), and type of classes; (2) presence or absence of full-time instructors; (3) curricula contents; (4) textbooks in use; (5) desire for standardized textbooks; (6) faculty development programmes; (7) course contents; and (8) problems to be solved to promote Kampo education. We conducted descriptive analyses without statistics.


Eighty questionnaires were collected (100%). (1) There were 0 to 25 Kampo class meetings during the 6 years of medical school. At least one Kampo class was conducted at 98% of the schools, ≥4 at 84%, ≥8 at 44%, and ≥16 at 5%. Distribution of classes was 19% and 57% for third- and fourth-year students, respectively. (2) Only 29% of schools employed full-time Kampo medicine instructors. (3) Medicine was taught on the basis of traditional Japanese Kampo medicine by 81% of the schools, Chinese medicine by 19%, and Western medicine by 20%. (4) Textbooks were used by 24%. (5) Seventy-four percent considered using standardized textbooks. (6) Thirty-three percent provided faculty development programmes. (7) Regarding course contents, “characteristics” was selected by 94%, “basic concepts” by 84%, and evidence-based medicine by 64%. (8) Among the problems to be solved promptly, curriculum standardization was selected by 63%, preparation of simple textbooks by 51%, and fostering instructors responsible for Kampo education by 65%.


Japanese medical schools only offer students a short time to study Kampo medicine, and the impetus to include Kampo medicine in their curricula varies among schools. Future Kampo education at medical schools requires solving several problems, including curriculum standardization.

Kampo medicine; Traditional Japanese medicine; Education; Medical school; Curriculum standardization; Questionnaire survey