Medication in Japan – One of things we take for granted when heading to or traveling around a foreign country is our health and well-being. The dreams and excitement of experiencing new and wonderful things and making memories with family and friends often overshadows the reality that often different climates take tolls on our bodies.
For many people traveling to Japan, the weather may come as a shock, especially during summer and winter. In summer, the weather is annoyingly humid, and during winter, it gets devastatingly cold especially in the northern regions (unless you’re from a country like Russia!).
With this change in climate comes the chance that you may fall ill. From sniffly noses to sore throats, headaches and even dehydration, catching a sickness whilst overseas is definitely not fun. In a country like Japan where English is not widely spoken, it can be a struggle to purchase medicine to help you get better.
Below we’ve listed some basic information on medication in Japan you need if you do fall ill.
Best Medication In Japan For Common Type of Sicknesses
Fever Medicine in Japan
A fever happens when your body temperature rises above normal.
- Tylenol A – This is a medicine that is used to lower the temperature of fevers.
- Lulu Attack EX – This medication is used to combat common cold symptoms including fever and chills. They come in a pill format.
- Bufferin – Bufferin is a small box of pills that is taken to treat fevers, colds, headaches, and cramps. There are various options of Bufferin which include Premium (high level of pain), Luna (cramps and related pains), Kaze EX (cold-related), and standard.
- Loxonin S – This is a pill-type medicine that’s taken for fevers, headaches, cramps, joint pains and more. This is a stronger option than those previously listed.
Stomach Pain in Japan
Feeling pain in and across your stomach area will put you completely off the mood to do pretty much everything. The below listed medication will hopefully provide you with much-needed relief.
- GASTER 10 – This stomach medication comes in various forms including tablets, powder, and liquid. It’s usually taken on an empty stomach to help reduce the pain. You will need to purchase this at a pharmacy with a pharmacist present as it is an over-the-counter medication.
- Ohta Isan – This is a herbal-type medication that is usually used to treat discomfort in the stomach area, vomiting, nausea and even hangovers. Note that the smell of this is quite strong!
- Taisho Kampo – This is a Chinese stomach pain medication that is sold in Japan. It targets stomach pain and excessive stomach acid. There are two types: the yellow box is the weaker one, and white box is the more potent version.
- Kyabejin KOWA a – This medication has been sold in Japan for a long time. It addresses the following symptoms: stomach pain, excessive eating and drinking, stomach acid, and indigestion.
Headache Medicine in Japan
Headaches sometimes come out of nowhere and can really dampen your energy level and spirits. Below are some common medications to help with headaches.
- Bufferin – This box of pills is a general pain killer that will ease your headaches in a short amount of time.
- EVE A – This is a common painkiller that provides relief of pain and refer. It is also commonly used in Japan for mild headaches.
- Norshin Tablets – This pain relief medication also contains caffeine, meaning that it can help you with your headache pain without making you drowsy.
Sore Throat & Cough Medicine in Japan
Waking up with a sore throat is possibly one of the worst feelings ever! If you need something to combat this, we’ve listed Japan’s best sore throat and cough medications below.
- Pabron – This is a common medicine that is used for cold symptoms including (but not limited to) sore throat, coughs, runny noses, etc. Grab a pack of these the moment you start feeling sick in order to prevent it from becoming worse.
- Esutakku Ibu Fine EX – This medication contains ibuprofen and acts quickly to address sore throats and fevers. It can also assist with runny noses, coughing, headaches and joint pain.
- Benza Block L Premium – This particular medication is designed specially to treat sore throats. It eases throat pain and suppresses mucosal inflammation.
Diarrhoea and Constipation Medicine in Japan
Feeling like you need to situate yourself near a toilet *just in case* is not fun, and it’s ten times less fun when you’re overseas. In Japan, there are some great options for medication to fight diarrhoea and constipation.
- Seirogan – This medication has been around for more than a century. It’s got a strong smell that may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is known to be super effective against diarrhoea, loose stools, and stomach aches.
- Takeda Kampo Benpiyaku – This is one of the most popular medications for constipation in Japan. You can purchase it at most drug stores. It is commonly used for constipation, piles and appetite problems.
Medicine in Japan for Tired Eyes
Japanese eye drops actually have a global cult following. For those who have dry tired eyes for a number of reasons, try some of the below listed for temporary relief.
- Rohto Z Pro C – This flashy packaged eyedrop won’t let you down. It contains a healthy amount of menthol which will sting a bit when first applied but will quickly give way to sweet relief. It’s refreshing and also aids in preventing UV ray damage, which is great for outdoor adventurers.
- Sante Beauteye – For a little more luxe, the pink Sante Beauteye is a great option. It does also sting when applied, but will clear the eyes and provide a brighter outlook.
If you’re interested in reading more about Japanese eye drops, we have a wonderfully detailed article which talks about the 10 best Japanese eye drops that we recommend.
Medicine for Muscle Aches and Soreness
Your body usually feels sore and tired after a few days of exploring, maybe due to the fact that you usually walk around more and spend the entire day out.
- Vantelin – This gel medicine works wonders for sore muscles. Rub it over your muscle pains and feel refreshed the next day.
- Salonpas – Salonpas is possibly the most popular and widespread method of combating muscle soreness in Japan. It is a compress that you stick directly onto your skin where the soreness resides. It works to soften the pain and dullness. It also has a lovely herbal scent.
- Anmerutsu – You can apply this medication directly onto the sore part of your body and feel the effects of it as it reduces pain and soreness as well as loosen stiff shoulders.
Best Medicine For Hangover
We’ve all been there. Waking up from a big night feeling nothing but nausea and regret. Luckily for you, Japan has plenty of medication to combat the nausea (but you’ll need to figure out the regret on your own!).
- Hepalyse – One of the best ways to treat a hangover is to prevent it. Hepalyse is a drink that is taken before drinking to eliminate or wildly reduce the symptoms of a hangover.
- Ukon No Chikara – Another option to prevent hangovers is drinking a Ukon No Chikara before a big night out. Find this at Konbini in the healthy/drink section.
- No Mikata – If you’ve drunk yourself into oblivion and have woken up super hungover, try taking No Mikata, which comes in the forms of a pack of granules or liquid. It’ll hopefully get you back on your feet!
Where To Buy Medicine In Japan
You can easily purchase medicine at any drugstore or pharmacy in Japan.
The difference between the two is that drugstores are typically sprinkled around shopping districts and also sell everything from daily necessities to cosmetics, and even food!
Pharmacies in Japan only sell medicine and are usually connected to a hospital. You generally require a prescription to purchase medicine at a pharmacy.
Here are the most convenient English-speaking pharmacies / clinics in Tokyo.
National Azabu Supermarket Pharmacy
This pharmacy is located in Minami-Azabu and is frequently visited by expats and foreigners. You can get your prescription filled in English here and grab some groceries along the way!
- Address: 4 Chome-5-2 Minamiazabu, Minato City, Tokyo 106-0047, Japan
- Hours: 9:30am – 7:00pm daily
Tokyo Medical and Surgical Clinic Pharmacy
The Tokyo Medical and Surgical Clinic as an on-site pharmacy. If you have a doctor’s appointment, you can easily swing by and grab your medication from there and speak to someone in English.
- Address: 3 Chome-4-30 Shibakoen, Minato City, Tokyo 105-0011, Japan
- Hours: Mon – Fri, 9:00am – 5:30pm, Sat, 9:00am – 1:00pm
Yakuju Pharmacy Roppongi Izumi Garden
Directly across from Roppongi-Itchome Station is the Izumi Garden complex, home to this english-speaking pharmacy. They can fill prescriptions from most doctors across Japan. You can also purchase many other over-the-counter medications here.
- Address: Yakuju Pharmacy Roppongi Izumi Garden
- Hours: Mon – Fri, 9:00am – 7:00pm, Sat, 9:30am – 2:00pm
Useful Words/Phrases To Know Before Going To A Drugstore
Before to visit a drugstore, it’s always good to learn some Japanese terms in case the staff don’t speak English. Here are common words that you may want to use when you go buy medicine in Japan:
- Cold (風邪): pronounced ‘ka-ze’
- Constipation (便秘} : pronounced ‘ben-pi’
- Cough (咳): pronounced ‘se-ki’
- Diarrhoea (げり): pronounced ‘ge-ri’
- Fever (熱): pronounced ‘net-su’
- Headache (頭痛): pronounced ‘zut-su’
- Ill (病気): pronounced ‘byo-ki’
- Pain (痛み): pronounced ‘i-ta-mi’
- Pharmacy (薬局) : pronounced ‘yakk-yo-ku’
- Prescription (処方): pronounced ‘sho-ho’
- Runny Nose (鼻水): pronounced ‘ha-na-mi-zu’
- Stomach Ache (腹痛): pronounced ‘fu-kut-su’
- My ____ hurts: pronounced ‘(insert sickness) ga itai’.
- Do you have ____?: pronounced ‘(insert sickness) wa arimasu ka?
We hope you found this article to be super helpful!
Please remember, all medication is different with various precautions and possible side effects. Read carefully and follow the instructions provided on the packaging. If you have any concerns or questions, consult the pharmacist or a doctor before consuming any of these medications.
To contact an ambulance, call 119.