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Kanji Cheat Sheet: Buying Hay Fever Medication in Japan

Achoo! Hay fever season is back with a vengeance. Get rid of your sniffles with this seasonal vocabulary.

By 2 min read

My favorite season in Japan is definitely spring. You’ve got cherry blossoms, fair weather, and the official end of winter. The only problem is that with spring comes hay fever. You know the deal, constant sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy eyes that that can only come from an overabundance of pollen.

So these bastards are the ones responsible for my itchy eyes.

So with hay fever hell just around the corner, it’s time to stay ahead of the curve with some potent hay fever medicine. The only problem? Navigating through all those labels. After all, drugstores literally have entire sections dedicated to fighting off that pesky pollen.

Know the basic language surrounding hay fever

Here are some kanji found on over-the-counter medicine to look for depending on your symptoms.

English Japanese Romaji
Hay fever 花粉症 kafunshou
Cedar-tree pollen スギ花粉 sugi kafun
Sneezing くしゃみ kushami
Runny noses 鼻水 hanamizu
Itchy eyes 目がかゆい me ga kayui
A general word for anti-allergy treatments 抗アレルギー薬 kouarerugiyaku
Medicine for  itchy eyes 花粉症目薬 kafunshoumegusuri
Non-drowsy medicine 眠くならない薬 nemukunaranaikusuri
Medicine for stuffed nose 鼻炎薬 bienyaku
Anti-histamine 抗ヒスタミン薬 kouhisutamingusuri
Herbal medicine 漢方薬 kanpouyaku

Should OTC not be enough to relieve your symptoms, Japan has a whole host of hay fever products that help with those itchy eyes.

Looking at the package

One thing that I never appreciated before coming to Japan is that there are many different ways to take your medicine. After all, not all of us are okay swallowing pills the size of a reasonably big beetle. Here are a few different types.

English Japanese Romaji
Tablet form ~錠剤 ~jyouzai
Swallow 飲み薬 nomigusuri
Liquid form 液体 ekitai
Nasal drops 点鼻薬 tenbiyaku
Eye drops 点眼薬 tenganyaku
For internal use only 内服 naifuku
Containing fexofenadine hydrochloride フェキソフェナジン塩酸塩 fekisofenajin ensanen
Containing epinastine hydrochloride エピナスチン塩酸塩 epinasuchin ensanen

Medicines that contain fexofenadine, are mainly used to alleviate allergies related to skin conditions like dermatitis or eczema. Those with epinastine hydrochloride are used to treat bronchial asthma or food allergies.

These may be joined with the kanji , meaning inside the packet, so don’t be confused if you see this mark next to any of these.

Read the full article on GaijinPot Study.

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