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:

???

?????

kazegusuri

cold remedies

Symptoms

?????

??????

nodo no itami

sore throat

??

??

seki

cough

??

??

tan

phlegm

?????

?????

hanazumari

stuffy nose

???

????

hanamizu

runny nose

?????

?????????

genetsu chints?yaku 

antipyretic analgesics

Symptoms

??

????

hatsunetsu

fever

??

???

zuts?

headache

???

?????

seirits?

dysmenorrhea or menstrual cramps

???

??????

ich?yaku

gastrointestinal medicines

Symptoms

????

????

imotare

stomach heaviness or upset stomach

?????

???????

i no fukaikan

epigastric distress or feeling of discomfort in the stomach

??/????

???/?????

its?/i no itami

stomachache

????

????

tabesugi

overeating

????

????

nomisugi

overdrinking

???

???

hakike

nausea

???

????

muneyake

heartburn, sour stomach

??

??

geri

diarrhea

??

????

megusuri

eye drops

?????????

??????????

kontakuto renzu y?

for contact lenses

Symptoms

??????

?????

me no kasumi

blurred vision

?????

?????

me no kayumi

itching eyes

?????

?????

me no tsukare

eyestrain

??????

?????

dorai ai

dry eyes

???/???

?????/?????

bi`en-yaku/tenbi-yaku

rhinitis remedies/nasal drops

????

??????

kafunsh?

hay fever

?????

????

kushami

sneezing

??????

???????

arerug?sei

allergic

?????

?????????

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, ???????? (do not drive or operate) or ?? (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:

?????

Dosage and administration

1?x?

x times per (1) day

???/??xx???

Within xx minutes before/after a meal

??/???

With water/lukewarm water

??/?/?

Morning/Midday/Evening

???

Age

??/??

Adults

??

Children

x?(?)??/??

x years old and above/ younger than x years old

??

Precautions

?????????????????????????

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

????????????????????????????????????

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. 

??

j?zai

tablet/pill

????

kapuseru

capsule

??

konagusuri

powder medicines

??

kary?

granule

???????

nomigusuri (ekitai)

liquid medicines

????

supur?

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)

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