More than medicine: what you can buy at drugstores in Japan

By Tao
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Just like convenience stores, it seems as if there are drugstores everywhere in Japan. And rather than just sell medicine, they offer you so much more. Read on to find out what you can buy at a drugstore in Japan.

Popular drugstore brands

Some of the most popular drugstores you can find in Japan are:

  • マツモトキヨシ – Matsumoto Kiyoshi
  • ウエルシア薬局 – Welcia
  • サンドラッグ – Sun Drug
  • コクミン – Kokumin
  • アインズ&トルペ – Ainz&Tulpe
  • トモズ – Tomod’s
  • ダイコクドラッグ – Daikoku Drug

Drugstore in Japan - Beauty products

Beauty

You’re never short of shampoo or mascara in Japan as all drugstores sell beauty and cosmetic essentials. Some drugstore brands, such as Kokumin and Ainz&Tulpe, focus more on cosmetics and beauty products than others. But walk into any drugstore in Japan and it’s easy to find products from the likes of Maybelline, Revlon, Dove, Shiseido, as well as many Japanese brands.

Daily life necessities

You can buy many household essentials at drugstores in Japan, from bathroom cleaning spray and washing powder to onigiri and soft drinks. The variety of products at the shop will differ depending on the branch, but you should be able to find most things you need no matter where you go!

Medicine

It goes without saying that you can buy over-the-counter medicine at drugstores in Japan. Some common medicines you can get include:

General pain relief

イブ (Eve) – buy the “Quick” type for fast-acting relief for headaches, the “A” type for menstrual cramps and headaches, the “A Ex” type for extreme cramps and headaches and the “Melt” type for a pill you can swallow without water and which won’t leave you feeling sleepy.
Active ingredients: ibuprofen, allylisopropylacetylurea, and caffeine

バファリン (Bufferin) – can be used for headaches, cramps, hip and shoulder pain, fevers and colds. The “A” type is the standard, while the “Luna” type includes relief for menstrual cramps and “Premium” for extreme pain.
Active ingredients: aspirin, Dibuffer HT. Note that some Bufferin brands contain different active ingredients.

Cold and flu

パブロン (Pabron) – the “Ace Pro” (イースPro) type is designed to be consumed by adults only and contains ibuprofen to help ease cold symptoms. There are also types that target inflammation in specific symptoms and/or parts of the body, as well as medicine specifically for children.
Active ingredients: contains 7 active ingredients including guaifenesin.

ルルアタックEX (Lulu Attack Ex) – a common medicine that treats cold symptoms. Suitable only for those over 15 years old.
Active ingredients: several active ingredients including ibuprofen and tranexamic acid

Cough medicine

龍角散ダイレクト (Ryukakusan Dairekuto) – a dry herbal medicine that you ingest to help with coughs and sore throats.
Active ingredients: includes platycodon, senega, glycyrrhiza, and apricot kernel

カイゲン咳止錠 (Kaigen Sekidome Jou) – another type of medicine that helps ease cough symptoms.
Active ingredients: includes dihydrocodeine phosphate and noscapine

Stomach pain

ガスター10 (Gaster-10) – for stomach pain and reflux.
Active ingredients: Famotidine

ブスコパンA (Buscopan A) – for stomach and abdominal pain.
Active ingredients: Scopolamine butylbromide

Digestive medicine

ザ ガード (The Guard Kowa) and エビオス (Ebios) – helps improve gut health
Active ingredients: The Guard – bacillus natto powder; Ebios – dried yeast

Strong Wakamoto – aids digestion, regulates the intestines and offers nutritional supplementation, contains lactobacillus bacteria
Active ingredients: includes Aspergillus oryzae NK, lactobacillus culture

Insect bites and itchiness

ムヒ (Muhi) – a popular ointment used to treat itchiness, including heat and skin rashes
Active ingredients: includes diphenhydramine, menthol and glycyrrhetinic acid

キンカン (Kinkan) – liquid anti-itch medication
Active ingredients: Diphenhydramine hydrochloride, menthol

Muscle pain

サロンパス (Salonpas) – pain reliever and anti-inflammatory stick-on patches for muscle pain
Active ingredients: methyl salicylate, menthol and tocopherol acetate (vitamin E), and camphor

ドキシン (Dokishin) – pill that helps relieve muscle and joint pain and cramps
Active ingredients: includes methocarbamol and ethenzamide

ボルタレン (Voltaren) – anti-inflammatory and pain relief drug
Active ingredients: diclofenac

Travel sickness

Motion sickness relief medicine includeトラベルミン (Travelmin) and よいどめ (Yoidome).
Active ingredients: Travelmin – meclizine hydrochloride and scopolamine hydrobromide hydrate; Yoidome – includes pheniramine maleate and diphenhydramine

Drugstore in Japan - Matsumoto Kiyoshi

Vocabulary for buying medicine

Medicine – 薬 (kusuri)

Cold/flu – 風邪(kaze)

Heartburn – 溜飲 (ryuuin)

Headache – 頭痛 (zutsuu); can also say: “Atama ga itai” which means “My head hurts”

Stomach ache – 腹痛 (fukutsuu); can also say: “Onaka ga itai”, which means “My stomach hurts”

Sore throat – 喉が痛い (nodo ga itai)

Diarrhea – 下痢 (geri)

Travel sickness – 乗り物酔い (norimonoyoi)

Rash – 皮疹 (hishin)

Fever – 熱 (netsu)

“Do you have [medicine name]?” – “[Medicine name] wa arimasuka?

“Do you have medicine for ….?” – “…. no kusuri wa arimasuka?

e.g. “Do you have medicine for a cold?” – “kaze no kusuri wa arimasuka?

Got a question about living and studying in Japan? Contact us and one of our team would be happy to help!

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