HOW TO: Beat hay fever in Japan

[Updated Feb 14. 2012]

Considering it is now hay fever season in Japan (and boy has my nose let me know about it!), I'm sure many of you are already attempting to (if you haven't already) thwart the runny nose, watering eyes, and incessant sneezing, to name just a few symptoms. Fortunately, for those of you who haven't already gotten it under control, I wrote a post last year about dealing with allergies. And believe me when I say, I have some incredibly obnoxious allergies. So much so that they even partially contributed to my 6 month illness of labrynthitis one year ago.

So to start you off, be sure to check out allergies in Japan - how to deal for the very essentials (plus a few extras), and continue on below for more ideas. You might also want to learn 15 ways to survive hay fever season in Japan (options mentioned below are also included).

First off, if trying to find any sort of hay fever treatment, then the following words may come in handy:

花粉症    かふんしょう       kafunshou    hay fever, pollinosis
花粉     かふん             kafun           pollen
アレルギー                  arerugii        allergy

So, some additional possibilities for beating hay fever (though I do not take responsibility for whether these work or not - but could be worth trying, or feel free to comment if you have tried them and if you found them to be effective):

Nettle tea 

This Japan Times article states that nettle tea is an effective relief for allergies. I haven't tried nettle tea, only beni fuuki (you can read about this in the allergies post above), but could be worth a try.

Nose mask (鼻マスク) 

I've been seeing "nose masks" more and more lately. It almost looks like mini goggles you attach to the underside of your nose, and then each flat piece that covers the nostril contains a filter. Seems a bit strange, but hey, maybe it works.

Best ranked

For even more ideas,, a ranking website for folks to review and choose what products and services they like best, has a list of what many people have voted to be the most effective forms of dealing with hay fever (and to make it fair, they include neutral and poor reviews as well.) I wanted to get a better idea of what all Japanese folks do in regards to controlling hay fever, other than the obvious (medicine, masks, etc.), and found this to be enlightening. You can find the list here, all in Japanese, but the top 5 items are, in order:

1. Unicharm face mask  (ユニチャーム 超立体マスク)  - This mask is not just any regular mask, it's molded to keep its shape around your mouth to allow for breathing space, and also supposedly won't mess up your lipstick, if you wear any.

2. Fumakilla Pollen nose block  (フマキラー 花粉 鼻でブロック)  - Essentially some kind of petroleum jelly you swab in your nose and it's supposed to catch the pollen. Though I don't see why you couldn't just use regular Vaseline...

3. Calpis Interbalance L-92  (カルピス インターバランス L-92)  - A concentrated yogurt drink with healthy bacteria strains. Of course, the "good" bacteria are definitely good for you, and the premise here is that they will help with allergies.

4. Kikkoman Allergy Clear Plus  (キッコーマン アレルクリア プラス)  - A supplement made of tomato polyphenols and heathy bacteria. I don't know the science behind the tomato... b

5. Fumakilla Clothes Block  (フマキラー 花粉 服でブロック)  - A spray you put on your clothes that is supposed to repel pollen.

Please note I claim no effectiveness to any of these, nor am I endorsing any of them or the brands. Some people on the site say they work, and others don't, so you never know. These are just ideas. Underneath the top 5 is an entire list of other supposed allergy treatments and countermeasures, including sleep, plain yogurt, various teas, supplements, etc.

Needless to say, various ideas exist as to how to deal with allergies - the key is finding something that fits you and your lifestyle, and there certainly are a variety of options to try here in Japan. You never know, you might discover something you wouldn't have been aware of in your home country (such was the case for me with beni fuuki tea).

And now, it's your turn - what are your hay fever/allergy secrets? What gets you through this allergy sufferer's season here in Japan? Leave your ideas in the comments below!

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