HOW TO: Find ibuprofen in Japan

This is for all those die-hard Advil fans out there, like myself. Though I try to use any kind of drug sparingly, at least once a month I find myself growling for drugs (I’m sure you can guess which “once” I’m referring to, ladies). And then I take two. Sometimes three. No matter how tough I am the rest of the month, I run to the drug cupboard with my proverbial tail between my legs.

Yes, I admit, I did bring a large bottle of Advil with me when I first came to Japan, and last time my mom sent me a care package I asked for some Advil. It’s almost like a comfort drug – you know, comfort food. The very sound of it just puts you at ease. Advil. No pain. Ahhh…

Anyway! What if you have no Advil, because you’ve completely emptied your bottle, and in extreme I-NEED-DRUGS pain? Fear not, you (or someone in your place if you’re unable to move due to said pain) can find ibuprofen in Japan. Probably most, if not all, drug stores and pharmacies will carry it. The amount of ibuprofen per dosage is typically the same as a regular Advil dosage (which may be either 1 or 2 tablets in Japan, depending on the brand, versus 1 tablet of Advil, so read the instructions to check. You'll want to look for 用法・用量, and for number of pills it will say the number and 錠). Although, be forewarned, they often put caffeine in the pills too. I've heard caffeine increases the effectiveness of medicine, so you can check that out elsewhere to learn more. In any case, it’s not less effective, but keep in mind gel caps are harder to come by, if that’s your thing.

The word to look (or ask) for is: イブプロフェン (pronounced almost the same as in English except the “i” sounds like a long “e” instead of “eye").

Some of the more common brands I’ve seen are Eve and Meridon, although others exist as well.

If, by looking at labels, you can’t find it (or have no idea where to look), simply ask a store employee, “ibuprofen ga arimasen ka?” or “ibuprofen wa doko desu ka?” Or, look at the category/section labels or names. Most likely, you’ll see the kanji or word for pain: 痛み (いたみ, itami). You’ll be finding relief in no time.

You may also want to check out HOW TO: Look up Japanese medicine.

*If you just can't LIVE without Advil, by all means, have it sent to you. Or order from the Foreign Buyer's Club, they've got some too.

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