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Prescription Drugs

Prescription Drugs in Japan Bringing Medication to Japan
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Prescription Drugs

Prescription Drugs in Japan


Depending on what country you come from, you may be used to prescription drugs looking a certain way or coming in a bottle instead of a blister pack. In Japan, all prescription pills come in blister packs like this.


Hybrid drugs are rare in Japan, so even if you just have a cold, it is common to get multiple paper bags of medications. Written on the front of each paper bag will be the name of the medication, what type of medication it is (pill, patch, cream, etc.), and how to take it. If you have doubts about drug combinations or want to know if you can take an OCT product with your prescription medications, ask a registered Pharmacist.

Bringing Medication to Japan


In countries like the United States, it is common to receive opioids for everything from wisdom tooth removal to major surgery. In Japan, you will be given little more than Tylenol (acetaminophen) for most things, including surgery. While stronger medicines do exist, they are reserved for truly serious situations. It should also be noted that bringing opioid medications into Japan, in some cases even with a prescription, is illegal. You can submit a Yakkan Shoumei (Import Report of Medication), but because narcotics are governed by different laws, you may be restricted from bringing them into the country regardless.

Drugs that cannot be brought into Japan in any amount are:

  1. Sudafed or any drug containing more than 10% pseudoephedrine
  2. Vick’s brand inhalers
  3. Amphetamine and methamphetamine (e.g. Adderall)
  4. Psychotropic drugs containing more than 1.8g of methylphenidate

If you need to bring a prescription with you from your country, you will need to submit a Yakkan Shoumei (薬監証明) to a Customs officer in Japan.

Click here to learn more about importing prescription medications from the MHLW (Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare).

Visit your local Japanese Consulate or Embassy website to find out what documents need to be submitted from your country in order to obtain a Yakkan Shoumei. (Typically, the necessary documents include a description of the medication and its purpose, and an official letter from your doctor stating the necessity of the medication in question. However, documents may vary by country, so be sure to check with your local Japanese Consulate or Embassy.)

Japanese Romaji Function

kusuri medicine
nomigusuri pills or liquid medication (medicine taken by mouth)
nurigusuri ointment or cream medication
harigusuri patch medication (transdermal patch)
chuushayaku Injectable medication (insulin, etc.)
choushokugo after breakfast
chuushokugo after lunch
yuushokugo after dinner/supper
maishokugo After each meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
fukusayou side effect

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