The flower bud of Zingiber mioga Roscoe, known as ‘myoga’ or Japanese ginger, has a pungent aroma and is commonly consumed as a spice, with pickles, or as a health supplement in Eastern Asia. Here, we evaluated the activity of myoga in the brain, focusing especially on nerve growth factor (NGF), which is believed to mediate synaptic plasticity, supporting learning and memory. In a rat primary hippocampal astrocyte culture system, treatment with myoga extract for 24 h significantly stimulated the production of NGF. In mice administered myoga extract for 14 days, 200 and 400 mg/kg/day treatment resulted in increased NGF levels in the hippocampus. Myoga extract treatment also regulated the phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases and cAMP response element-binding protein in the mouse hippocampus, leading to increased synaptic plasticity. In addition, it significantly increased novel object recognition time and spontaneous alternation, indicating improvement in learning and memory. These results suggest that myoga helps regulate NGF and synaptic plasticity, increasing memory ability. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.