Guide On Navigating Japan’s Pharmacies

Whether you’re a seasoned resident of Japan or just visiting for a short stay, knowing your way around a pharmacy can be invaluable. Unlike many Western countries, pharmacies in Japan are categorized into two distinct types: drugstores and 薬局 yakkyoku. This guide will walk you to different places to get medicines and the vocabulary and phrases you can use.

A Quick Jump To…

調剤薬局 Drugstores

These are the most common type of pharmacy and sell a wide variety of products, including cosmetics, toiletries, household items, and even food. They are usually open longer hours, often staying open until late in the evening. Popular drugstore chains in Japan include Matsumoto Kiyoshi, Cocokara Fine, and Sun Drug. 

Matsumoto Kiyoshi

Location: Use this to find the nearest location to you

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 9:00 – 21:00 (varies by location)

Cocokara Fine

Location: Use this to find the nearest location to you

Opening Hours: 10:00 – 22:00 (varies by location)

Sun Drug

Location: Use this to find the nearest location to you

Opening Hours: 10:00 – 20:00 (varies by location)

薬局 Yakkyoku

These pharmacies focus solely on the sale of medication and typically have more limited hours than drugstores. They are usually located near hospitals or clinics. To purchase any medication here, you are required to provide a doctor’s prescription. However, some do not fill foreign prescriptions, so make sure to keep in mind that.

Commonly Bought Medications

  • Pain relievers: ロキソニン (Roki-sonin), バファリン (Bufferin)
  • Cold and flu remedies: パブロン (Paburon), コンタック (Kontaku)
  • Allergy medications: アレジオン (Allergic), クラリチン (Claritin)
  • Digestive aids: キャベジン (Cabein), 正露丸 (Seirogan)
  • Eye drops: ロート (Rohto), サンテ (Sante)

You can also buy a number of other items at a Japanese pharmacy, such as:

  • Bandages and other first-aid supplies
  • Sunscreen and other skin care products
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Vitamins and supplements
  • Cosmetics
鎮痛剤Chintsū-zaiPain relievers
風邪・インフルエンザ治療薬Kaze infuruenza chiryō-yakuCold and flu remedies
アレルギー治療薬 Arerugī chiryō-yakuAllergy medications
胃腸薬Ichō kusuriDigestive aids
目薬MegusuriEye drops
救急用品Kyūkyū yōhinfirst-aid supplies
スキンケアSukin keaskin care products
生理用品Seiri yōhinFeminine hygiene products
vocabularies on things you can get at a Japanese pharmacy

Common Phrases for Japanese Pharmacies

  • 〇〇薬をください。〇〇 Kusuri o kudasai. – I would like some 〇〇 medicine.
  • 何日分になりますか。Nan’nichibun ni narimasu ka. – How many days’ worth is this?
  • 痛みがあります。Itami ga arimasu. – I have pain.
  • 熱があります。Netsu ga arimasu. – I have a fever.
  • 風邪を引きました。Kaze o hikimashita. – I got a cold.
  • 咳が出ます。Seki ga demasu. – I do cough.
  • 喉が痛いです。Nodogaitaidesu. – My throat hurts.
  • 腹痛がします。Fukutsū ga shimasu. – I have a stomachache.
  • アレルギーがあります。Arerugī ga arimasu. – I have allergies.
  • おすすめはありますか。Osusume wa arimasu ka. – Do you have any recommendations?
  • 副作用はありますか。Fukusayō wa arimasu ka? – Are there any side effects?

Additional Tips

  • Bring your passport or other form of identification with you.
  • Be prepared to pay in cash, as not all pharmacies accept credit cards.
  • If you are unsure about a medication, ask the pharmacist for help.
  • Be sure to read the label carefully before taking any medication.
  • By following these tips and learning some basic Japanese phrases, you can easily navigate Japan’s pharmacies and ensure you get the medication you need.

You Might Be Wondering…

What medications can I buy without a prescription?

A wide range of over-the-counter medications are available, including pain relievers, cold and flu remedies, allergy medications, and digestive aids. Be sure to speak to a pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns about taking medication.

What are the typical opening hours of pharmacies?

  • Drugstores: 9:00 am – 8:00 pm
  • Yakkyoku: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Most pharmacies are closed on Sundays and holidays.

Can I use my foreign insurance at a Japanese pharmacy?

  • Unfortunately, most foreign insurance plans are not accepted in Japan. You will be required to pay for your medication out of pocket.

Do any pharmacies have English-speaking staff?

Some pharmacies, especially those located in tourist areas, may have English-speaking staff. Carrying a translation app or phrasebook with you is always a good idea.

Test your Japanese level!

Do a self-test to see which course fits you.

Check your level