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Finding the right medication, or 薬(くすり) (kusuri) in Japanese, can be tricky at the best of times. Entering a bright florescent lit drug store with a pounding headache makes the job even more of a pain. Add to your woes a foreign language, and you have a recipe for a bad time. Today we are going to look at common vocabulary found in a Japanese drug store, which will help you get in and out with confidence, so that you can get back to enjoying your time in Japan.

Where to buy medication in Japan

There are two types of stores that sell medication in Japan. First are the commonly found “drug stores”, or ドラッグストア in Japanese. Most drug stores will have a unique name, but include the word drug in their signage. The store in the photo above is called “Mine drug”. Drug stores are very common and plentiful in Japan. If you can remember the characters “ドラッグ” you will have no problem finding a drug store near you. Another way is to search through google maps with the keyword ドラッグ, as this will give you hits for all the different chain brands.

Drug stores sometimes have a registered pharmacist in store, but are generally more along the lines of a supermarket, specializing in medication. This means they primarily deal in over the counter medications, beauty care, toiletries and health foods. Somewhat ironically they are also a great place to buy snacks and sweets. If you believe you need more serious medication, you may need to visit a clinic and see a doctor or nurse. They can prescribe you better medication, which you can purchase at a pharmacy, or 薬局(やっきょく) (yakyoku) in Japanese.

Common ailments, lingo and their kanji

The most common ailments and their treatments can be obvious to us, but …continue reading