Medicine in Japan
How to find and buy
Paracetamol / acetaminophen /
Ibuprofen / Aspirin in Japan
We have loads of different types of medicine / tablets
but I think most people want to use the same one that
you are used to taking in your own country.
Plus Japanese tablets usually contain some different ingredients such as caffeine
so I’m only listing tablets that DO NOT contain caffeine or other ingredients.
Acetaminophen / Paracetamol / Tylenol
(For headache, fever etc… *Please check what you need online)
You can get
Tylenol= タイレノール (tairenooru).
On the official US website ( https://www.tylenol.com/safety-dosing/usage/dosage-for-adults)
it says adults can take 2 tablets every 4-6 hours.
One regular-strength tablet contains 325 mg and one extra-strength tablet contains 500mg.
As for Paracetamol, each one contains 500 mg and adults can take 2 tablets up to four times a day.(Both paracetamol and tylenol are the same thing.)
So basically in the West most people take 1000mg of acetaminophen at once.
But in Japan for most of the tablets, the desired dose is set a lot lower than the West.
(I think it’s based on many factors like height and weight and what the government decides.)
So when you look at the package of Tylenol sold in Japan, it says that
one tablet contains 300mg and you are supposed to take ONLY one tablet
every 4 hours up to 3 times per day.
But as the ingredient is the same (acetaminophen),
you can follow the dosage that your doctor advised in your country.
So you COULD take 3 tablets (325 x 3 = 975mg) of Tylenol.
But if you are worried, just take one tablet and see if it helps.
If the symptoms don’t get better, you could try taking another one.
The best thing is to ask your doctor if you can, of course.
This is not medical advise.
According to the Japanese website (http://tylenol.jp/tylenola.html)
This is the only type they have and it is non-drowsy
and you can take it on an empty stomach.
(But you should have something if you have a fever.)
Ibuprofen / Advil
(Headache, toothache, fever, menstrual cramps)
The Japanese name is イブプロフェン (ibu-purofen).
*The pronunciation is very different from English so be careful!
The tablet you should get :
リングルアイビー200 (ringuru aibii)
Each one contains 200 mg of ibuprofen.
In Japan (if you are Japanese) you normally take one (200mg)
every 6 hours to maximum of twice per day.
In the UK most people take 200-400mg
so again you could take 2 at once if that’s the dosage you are used to.
(I’ve taken 400mg at once and I was fine.)
Bufferin A （バファリンA bafarin ee)
I think it’s sold in the US too?
It’s quite popular among Japanese people and it’s normally the easiest find in a store.
Each contains 330mg of aspirin
and you can take 2 tablets to a maximum of twice per day.
Avoid taking on an empty stomach, and wait 6 hours before taking again.
Personally I like to take Tylenol + Ibuprofen but it really depends on individuals. :)
Where to get them
First we call both pharmacy and drugstore “薬局（やっきょく）”
Drugstore （薬局 yakkyoku / ドラッグストア doraggu-sutoa）
VS Pharmacy （調剤薬局 chouzai-yakkyoku）
薬局 (yakkyoku) / ドラッグストア (doraggu-stoa)
is the place you want to find if you want any of these tablets above.
Look for this kanji – 薬 (kusuri) which means “medicine”.
The biggest chain is called “マツモトキヨシ (matsumoto-kiyoshi)”
or “マツキヨ (matsu-kiyo)” for short.
You can find them pretty easily.
Their logo looks like this (blue, yellow, red) so it stands out a lot.
And outside looks like this :
As you can see, normally there is no door and it’s open.
You just walk straight in off the street.
Some of the products are placed basically outside. (Don’t nick anything though!)
Pharmacy – 調剤薬局 (chouzai-yakkyoku)
They normally only sells prescribed medicine.
So you have to first see a doctor and then you visit there and get the medicine prescribed.
In other words, you can’t get any medicine without prescription （処方箋 shohousen） / seeing a doctor.
And this type of pharmacy is located usually right next door to the clinic.
If you just want non-medicine stuff like surgical masks, vicks (cough drops), you can get them too.
While drug stores are open (no doors), this type of pharmacy always has a door and it’s inside.
Almost looks like a clinic.
They look like this :
How to ask for them (tablets above)
It depends on the drugstore but it seems like Tylenol is usually not on the shelf.
So go up to the cashier and ask :
Tairenooru wa ari-masu ka
= Do you have Tylenol?
(~ wa ari-masu ka = do you have / is there ~?)
And they will give it to you.
If you want ibuprofen (ringuru aibii), then say :
Ringuru aibii wa ari-masu ka
= Do you have “ringuru aibii”?
Unlike Tylenol, this should be on a shelf too
as it’s popular for girls to take during their period.
It goes the same for Aspirin (Bufferin A), you can probably find it on a shelf quite easily too.
But if not, just ask them.
Or you can buy them on Amazon from the link above.
After pill / Morning pill
/ Birth control pill
You have to see a doctor and ask them to prescribe for you.
You can check this clinic if you are in Tokyo.
How much would it cost
to see a doctor in Japan?
You should get travel insurance before coming to Japan
but if not you should think that you will end up paying
at least 5,000 jpy (roughly 50usd) just to see a doctor.
But it really depends on your situation so unfortunately
I cannot say the exact amount of how much you’d pay.
That’s it! If you are scared of speaking Japanese,
some pharmacists would speak English if you are in Tokyo
so don’t be shy and try asking them in English.
Your health is more important than anything!
I hope this article helps you anyhow!
Thank you for reading and take care!!!（お大事に o-daiji-ni）