Huqingyutang in Hangzhou is one of the two extremely famous traditional Chinese medicine stores in China, the other being Tongrentang in Beijing.
Founded in 1864, Huqingyutang used to be a famous State pharmacy and workshop devoted to the production of traditional medicine.
Known as a court-style pharmacy, it features a high roof and a plethora of shelves housing the medicines distributed by the clinic.
Patients who come to Huqingyutang can watch their prescriptions being prepared and measured by hand by the pharmacists.
When referring to Huqingyutang, one man can never be forgotten - Hu Xueyan, the founder of the famous store.
A merchant in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), his illustrious commercial exploits are often overlooked in the history books in favor of his status as Hangzhou's renowned man of medicine.
In the late 1800s, life was good for Hu inside the cozy confines of Hangzhou's most luxurious mansion. Having made a fortune from the local silk trade, Hu felt confident in his power to do whatever he wanted.
He quickly poached the best doctors around Hangzhou and built the imposing headquarters of Huqingyutang, roughly translated as "Hu the 'auspicious happiness in superabundance' traditional medicine maker."
Though launched later than Zhangtongtai, the most ancient such store in Hangzhou, Huqingyutang enjoys far greater popularity in China's TCM sector.
"Huqingyutang is more famous than Zhangtongtai, because the founder of Huqingyutang was a mandarin-merchant. He could provide sufficient capital and a spacious workshop, but the founder of Zhangtongtai was a poor scholar. So it is reasonable that they grew stronger than us," said a TCM doctor from Zhangtongtai.
In addition to the stores of Huqingyutang and Zhangtongtai, there is a newly developed TCM store that is also making a name for itself in Hangzhou - Guangxingtang Chinese Medicine Hall.
Debuting in November 2005, Guangxingtang is an unassuming center for the study and application of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Located in the former residence of a government official, the premises appear more like an artist's abode than the home of a TCM museum.
It is possible to make an appointment with a TCM doctor in one of the small, calligraphy-adorned rooms or simply browse the exhibition hall showcasing ancient texts and TCM equipment. A special massage room at the medicine hall provides visitors with a room fragrant with a therapeutic combination of incense and herbs for traditional healing.
(China Daily November 23, 2007)