What You Need to Know When Buying Medicine in Japan

You'll have to pinpoint what your symptoms are.


If you’re feeling under the weather and have run out of over-the-counter medicine from your home country, chances are, you’re going to have to buy them from a Japanese drugstore. Doing that will seem daunting at first, but we’ve compiled a list of the most common Japanese words and phrases you need to know when buying medicine in Japan. Plus, we’ll help you figure out the kind of medicine you should get and in what dosage.


And if that’s not enough, we have something at the end of the article that might prove useful to you. Read on below to find out.



Common OTC Medicines and Symptoms by Category 


When you enter a drugstore, you’ll find medicines in racks categorized as follows: cold remedies, antipyretic analgesics, gastrointestinal medicines, eye drops, and rhinitis remedies.


Looking at the medicine, you’ll notice that the symptoms are written in large fonts at the front of the packaging. Sometimes they are written in hiragana, and other times, in kanji. 


Sample medicine package in front


You only need to go through this list to find out what your symptoms are called in Japanese:

風邪薬

かぜぐすり

kazegusuri

cold remedies

Symptoms

 喉の痛み

のどのいたみ

nodo no itami

sore throat

 咳

せき

seki

cough

 痰

たん

tan

phlegm

 鼻詰まり

はなづまり

hanazumari

stuffy nose

 鼻水

はなみず

hanamizu

runny nose

解熱鎮痛薬

げねつちんつうやく

genetsu chintsūyaku 

antipyretic analgesics

Symptoms

発熱

はつねつ

hatsunetsu

fever

頭痛

ずつう

zutsū

headache

生理痛

せいりつう

seiritsū

dysmenorrhea or menstrual cramps

胃腸薬

いちょうやく

ichōyaku

gastrointestinal medicines

Symptoms

胃もたれ

いもたれ

imotare

stomach heaviness or upset stomach

胃の不快感

いのふかいかん

i no fukaikan

epigastric distress or feeling of discomfort in the stomach

胃痛/胃の痛み

いつう/いのいたみ

itsū/i no itami

stomachache

食べすぎ

たべすぎ

tabesugi

overeating

飲みすぎ

のみすぎ

nomisugi

overdrinking

吐き気

はきけ

hakike

nausea

胸やけ

むねやけ

muneyake

heartburn, sour stomach

下痢

げり

geri

diarrhea

目薬

めぐすり

megusuri

eye drops

コンタクトレンズ用

こんたくとれんずよう

kontakuto renzu yō

for contact lenses

Symptoms

 目のかすみ

めのかすみ

me no kasumi

blurred vision

 目の痒み

めのかゆみ

me no kayumi

itching eyes

 目の疲れ

めのつかれ

me no tsukare

eyestrain

 ドライアイ

どらいあい

dorai ai

dry eyes

鼻炎薬/点鼻薬

びえんやく/てんびやく

bi`en-yaku/tenbi-yaku

rhinitis remedies/nasal drops

 花粉症

かふんしょう

kafunshō

hay fever

 くしゃみ

くしゃみ

kushami

sneezing

アレルギー性

あれるぎーせい

arerugīsei

allergic

乗物酔い薬

のりものよいぐすり

norimonoyoigusuri

medicine for motion sickness


How to Read Medicine Directions


Medicine directions are usually written at the back of the packaging. Since the age and dosage are written in Arabic numerals, you may find it difficult to read them.


Here’s a tip: If you don’t want to get drowsy or you’re nursing, 運転操作をしない (do not drive or operate) or 授乳 (nursing) are the precautions you might want to look out for. Sometimes, they are written in bold font.


Sample medicine package at the back


These are what the Japanese words mean:

用法・用量

Dosage and administration

1日x回

x times per (1) day

 食前/食後xx分以内

Within xx minutes before/after a meal

 水/お湯で

With water/lukewarm water

 朝/昼/夕

Morning/Midday/Evening

 年齢

Age

成人/大人

Adults

小児

Children

x歳(才)以上/未満

x years old and above/ younger than x years old

注意

Precautions

服用後、乗物又は機械類の運転操作をしないでください

After taking this drug, do not drive a car or operate machinery.

授乳中の人は本剤を服用しないか、本剤を服用する場合は授乳を避けてください

Nursing women should either not take this medicine or stop nursing while taking this medicine.


Medicine Types



As you know, medicine comes in different forms—pills, capsules, powder, etc. Sometimes, you’ll be able to tell what it is from the picture on the packaging. But, it also won’t hurt to know what these mean in Japanese. 

錠剤

jōzai

tablet/pill

カプセル

kapuseru

capsule

粉薬

konagusuri

powder medicines

顆粒

karyū

granule

飲み薬(液体)

nomigusuri (ekitai)

liquid medicines

スプレー

supurē

spray


Still worried about which medicine to take? We’re glad to hear that you’re being careful. Note that you’re also going to have to fully understand the dosage and directions of the medicine you’re taking.


But what if we told you that you can actually find an English version of your medicine’s directions online?


With the support of Japan Self-Medication Industry, Japan Self-Medication Data-Base Center has a
website where you can find most of the OTC medicine directions in English! If this article hasn’t covered the medicine you’re looking for, this website may be able to help you find it. 

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW


Next time you buy medicine in Japan, don’t forget to refer to this article. 


 (26 October 2019)

More stories

How do you feel about this article?

Win
LOL
0
Total votes
View more stories tagged ""

Read more stories about

Comments

Latest Stories

Load More Stories