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Tweet of the Week #114: Old-fashioned Japanese Remedies Crack Twitter Up

Should you really wear cabbage on your head to reduce a fever?

By 2 min read

Since the earliest days of medicine, fearless and curious folks have tried numerous and hazardous ways to ease pain and cure ailments, sometimes based on superstitious beliefs.

Home remedies are passed down from generation to generation, and you’d be surprised to hear some Japanese people still give credit to traditional medicine.

Grandma in your pocket

“750 old-fashioned housework secrets and tricks”

Published July last year, むかしながらの家事かじコツとうらワザ750せん or 750 Old-Fashioned Housework Secrets and Tricks, provides advice for cleaning, beauty, cooking and health.

The book is built on the belief that traditional wisdom is still valuable in the modern era and brings eco-friendly, cheap solutions to everyday problems. Japanese readers commented that having the book is like having a grandmother’s knowledge in your pocket.

While we can’t guarantee the validity of the book’s tips and tricks, it certainly looks like an entertaining read judging from the pages shared on Twitter.

Will cabbage fix a fever?



“My wife was laughing out loud.”

Twitter user @neuro_gucci shared two very traditional folk remedies that you can use with ingredients you’ll find in your kitchen. According to the book, using freshly washed cabbage on a child’s head helps relieve a fever. Another tidbit suggests sticking a green onion up your nose if you’re congested.

Keep in mind that folks that came up with these home-made remedies were not bound by the old Hippocratic Oath. You might not want to try this at home.

How to use Japanese conditional form たら

Sotsugyo shitara, ryugaku suru!

We briefly talk about the たら form in a previous Tweet of the Week, but let’s refresh your memory. The たら form is built on the casual-past tense of verbs, nouns and adjectives, to which you add ら.


  • Verb: った → 行ったら (to go)
  • Noun: 旅行りょこうだった → 旅行だったら (trip)
  • い adjective: あたらしかった → 新しかったら (new)
  • な adjective: 安心あんしんだった → 安心だったら (safe)


  • Verb: かなかった → 行かなかったら
  • Noun: 旅行りょこうでわなかった → 旅行でわなかったら
  • い adjective: あたらしくなかった → 新しくなかったら
  • な adjective: 安心あんしんでわなかった → 安心でわなかったら

Conditional たら

Kodomo ga hatsunetsu shitara kyabetsu de oukyuushochi.

The conditional たら expresses a causal relationship between what comes before and after. Depending on the sentence context, たら can be translated as “if,” “when” or “after.” If you’re talking about a condition that will be fulfilled for the next action or event to take place, you’ll translate it to “when” or “after.”

However, if the condition is more of a hypothesis from the speaker, then it’ll likely be translated as “if” (the もし is often a good clue).

  • どもが発熱はつねつしたらキャベツで応急処置おうきゅうしょち

     (If your kid runs a fever, give first aid with a cabbage.)
  • はなまったら、鼻のあなにねぎをれる (If you have a congested nose, put green onion in your nostrils.)

Depending on the sentence context, たら can be translated as “if.”

たら is also a good Japanese expression to politely make a suggestion or give advice in passing without insisting too much. For instance:

  • つかれた・・・(I’m tired)
  • 今日きょうはやめにたら? (What if you go to bed early today?)


Japanese Romaji English
むかしながら mukashi nagara traditional, old-fashioned
家事かじ kaji housework
コツ kotsu secret, know-how
うらワザ urawaza trick
声出こえだして koedashite out loud
わら warau laugh
発熱はつねつする hatsunetsusuru run a fever
応急処置おうきゅうしょち oukyuushyochi first aid
まる tsumaru congest
鼻のあな hana no ana nostrils


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