HOW TO: Find pollen counts in Japan

Today's guest post comes from Paul of Just Another Day in Japan, a blog full of interesting and useful tidbits about Japan and life here. Please do go check it out after you've read his post below!  -Ashley

It's that time of year again - the days are getting warmer and longer, the flowers are blooming, the pollen is invading our bodies like a hostile enemy force...

Ashley has already written a couple of posts about how to battle this enemy (how to beat hay fever in Japan; allergies in japan - how to deal), packed with useful terminology and treatment techniques, but today I'm going to share a method for gathering some intelligence on (pollen) enemy movements and positions.

Our main tool in this conflict is a useful website I actually came across in another one of Ashley's earlier posts, how to find out how fast your laundry will dry: Think of it as our special spy satellite in the battle against... Whew, this war metaphor is growing a little cumbersome - time to shed that and get down to brass tacks.

Here's our starting point, Don't get distracted by all the links or that big ad (Ooo, 83%!). If your Japanese skills are non-existent to minimal, don't worry - I'm gonna walk you through this.

First, click on 花粉 (pollen) in the second row of links right below the main logo. You can see it below circled in red.

Click on our friend circled in red to go to the main pollen report.

If all goes well, you'll see something like the page below. Here we have a list of all the prefectures in Japan, along with their overall pollen status, from red to blue indicating different levels of severity (red being the worst). As of this writing, looks like we're right in the midst of a big pollen dump.

To find your prefecture, you'll want to look next to your region. The standard ordering is geographically from north to south, with Hokkaido (北海度) at the top and Kyushu (九州) at the bottom. Okinawa doesn't appear to be listed.

For example, I live in Hyogo (兵庫), which is in the Kinki region (近畿). You can see Hyogo circled in blue:

Someone ordered a code red...

If you don't know the kanji for your prefecture, you can have a look at Wikipedia for a list of prefectures in English. Click on yours and you'll be able to see the kanji in that prefecture's entry.

Voila! A turban-wearing pollen guru appears to share his wisdom.

And finally we're presented with a week-long outlook for our local pollen levels. The first entry April 7, circled in blue. You should be able to figure out the dates (month = 月 and day = 日).

This scale is pretty easy to understand, with pollen levels ranging from zero pollen granules, indicating no pollen in the air, to 4 nefarious pollen granules, meaning you'd better read some of Ashley's advice on dealing.

And there you have it. Personally I check this site every couple of days during this pollen season to see when my misery will abate, but you can also use it if you plan on traveling and want to know if you're going into a high or low pollen area.

Paul of Just Another Day in Japan
Paul (or Blue Shoe) is an American ALT currently working in Kansai. He began his epic struggle to master Japanese in university and has been fighting that battle ever since. Some of his other interests include music, video games, travel, and blogging. If you like this article, you can find more of his writing at Just Another Day in Japan.

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