Kanji Cheat Sheets

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.

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.

After using this guide you’ll be able to enjoy all the good things about spring minus that nasty hay fever.

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.

Paying attention to dosage

While it can be tempting to take as much of the medicine as possible to get rid of the symptoms, it’s wiser to know your dosage and take accordingly. On the package, 日 indicates how many times per day to take the medicine while にちぶん shows how many days’ worth are included. 

A dosage of three pills a day, one in the morning, noon, and night will look like this on the package: 1日3かい1じょうずつ. Also, look out for あさゆうwhich means that you take one in the morning then one in the evening.

Parents out there should also be aware of whether the dosage is suitable for an adult (せいじん), or a particular age range. Often these ranges are written with じょうfor the youngest age that can take it and まんfor the maximum age.

For example, 7さい以上15歳未満 means children from 7 to 14 years old can take the medication and 4歳以上7歳未満 means the medicine is suitable for children from 4 to 6 years old.

English  Japanese Romaji
How many days worth of medicine you have ~日分 ~nichibun
Take one pill three times a day 1日3回1錠ずつ ichinichi sankai ichijyou zutsu
Take one in the morning then one in the evening 朝夕 asayuu
Adult 成人 seijin
More than ~以上 ~ijyou
Less than ~未満 ~miman

Hopefully, after using this guide you’ll be able to enjoy all the good things about spring minus that nasty hay fever. Just remember that few suffer alone in this season, so don’t be afraid to ask your coworkers for their recommendations. Get out there and enjoy the season! If you have any recommendations for fighting the fever, let us know in the comments.

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