Air conditioners or エアコン (eakon) in Japan can help you through sweltering heat waves and blistering snow storms because each unit operates with both air conditioning and heating settings. As the text written on the リモコン (rimokon) are written in various combinations of kanji characters and katakana, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to distinguish one setting from another.
Accidentally blasting the heater on an already sticky June afternoon or having the air conditioner circumvent a cool breeze in the dead of winter are common occurrences that have happened at least once, even to the best of us.
In this guide, learn the basics of how to master your air conditioner to your liking.
Remote control basics
If you have a furnished apartment and can’t find the remote control, it might be mounted on the wall near the air conditioner, perhaps hidden behind the curtain.
Take note that the placement of the buttons or commands on the remote may not be in the same place, so take a close look at the kanji.
Some higher-end air conditioners may have additional functions not covered in this guide, such as an タイマー (taima, on-off timer), 内部クリーン (naibu kurin, self-cleaning setting) or 衣類乾燥 (irui kansou, clothes drying setting).
|Self-cleaning setting||内部クリーン||naibu kurin|
|Clothes drying setting||衣類乾燥||irui kansou|
Turning your air conditioner on and off
The on and off button is labeled 運転 and 停止 (unten/teishi) literally meaning operation and suspension respectively. Sometimes this button will be labeled 運転切/入 (unten setsu/iri) or just 切/入 (kiri/iri). Press this button once and the A/C will come on.
Once the A/C is on, the little screen on the remote control will also come on. The temperature will be displayed, possibly along with other settings.
|On (operation) Off (suspension)||運転切||unten setsu|
Changing the temperature and function of a Japanese air conditioner
The “change temperature” buttons are usually in the shape of an up and down arrow or have a plus or minus sign on them. In kanji, they are labeled 温度 (ondo) which means temperature. Press the up arrow or plus sign to raise the temperature. Press the down arrow or minus sign to lower the temperature.
When you press the 運転切換 (unten kirikae) button, the little arrow on the screen will go down and point to a different operation.
Sometimes, buttons themselves on the remote control will be labeled with the name of the type of operation. In this case, you would press the button labeled with the operation you desire.
Types of functions on Japanese air conditioners
|Switch operation||運転切換||unten kirikae|
|Ventilator that dries inside of a/c to prevent mold||送風||soufu|
|Low power-usage||省エネ||shou ene|
While many Japanese A/C remote controls have additional buttons, these are the most basic and most used. Hopefully, this Japanese air conditioner guide can help you create a cool space of your own this summer. Good luck out there.
This post was updated from the original published in 2014 on 06/14/2021.
Surviving and thriving in Japan
- For more practical tips and how-to’s related to living in Japan, check out our Japan 101 section.
- Having an air-con emergency that you need help with straightaway? Post your question to our GaijinPot Facebook Group and the community will help you.
- Keen to level up your kanji? Learn Japanese with our original study materials on GaijinPot Study or take a look at the GaijinPot Study Placement Program for information on studying at a Japanese language school.