Prescription Medication 

If you’re prescribed treatment by a doctor, you may end up with several different medications. At some hospitals and clinics, you can pick up your medications at their in-clinic pharmacy: (byouin no yakkyoku 病院の薬局). Otherwise, you must take the prescription to a dispensing pharmacy (chouzai yakkyoku 調剤薬局). You can also look for the sign 処方せん受付 (shohousen uketsuke “prescriptions filled”)

Usually each medication will come in a separate envelope or paper bag with instructions written on the front (in Japanese).

Non-prescription drugs

Kusuriya (薬屋) or Yakkyoku sell over-the-counter medications. They cannot fill prescriptions.

Useful Terms

用療 youyou dosage
用法 youhou directions
用液 you eki solution
~ごと ~ goto every~
1日2回 ichinichi nikai twice a day
1日3回 ichinichi sankai three times a day
1日3回8時間毎 ichinichi sankai 3 times a day, every 8hrs hachijikan-goto
1時間毎 ichijikan-goto every hour
隔日 kakujitsu every other day
必要に応じて hitsuyou ni oujite take as necessary
食前 shoku zen before meals
食後 shoku go (about 30 mins) after meals
食間 shokkan between meals (about 2 hrs after last meal)
眠時 minji at bedtime
半分 hanbun half
経口的 keikou-teki by mouth
医師の指示道り ishi no shiji douri as instructed by your doctor

Importing Medication

Medications containing stimulants, such as Nyquil, are illegal in Japan. This may include many cold and flu medications you use at home. Even if they are available over-the-counter in your home country, you cannot import them into Japan. Other non-prescription medications can be imported (up to 2 months supply). You may not import anti-psychotic drugs, you must have them prescribed by a doctor in Japan.

You may import a one-month supply of prescription medication (including the birth control pill) without going through any procedures. It’s best to include a copy of the prescription with the drugs. If you ship more than one month’s supply, your medication may be seized by Customs, and you’ll have to obtain a yakkan shomei certificate. If you are a new (pre-departure) ALT, planning to bring medication with you in your luggage, please click here.

If you are a current ALT planning to have medications sent to you, please follow the procedure below:

1. Have the medication sent to Japan via the post office. Inside the parcel, the original copy of the prescription and doctor's letter should be included.
2. Whoever is mailing the medication should also send you a separate envelope, containing copies of the prescription and doctor's letter, plus the post office receipt for sending the parcel.
3. When the parcel containing the medication arrives in Japan, it will likely be impounded by Customs. You will receive a postcard informing you of this.
4. Send the postcard, copies of the prescription/doctor's letter, and the postal receipt to CLAIR (address below), with a letter explaining your situation.
5. CLAIR will then apply on your behalf for an import permit (yakkan shomei). Once the permit has been received, your medication should be released from customs and sent to you.
6. At this point, you may be liable for customs storage expenses.
For further information on the required documentation, please see the page on Yakkan Shomei

  CLAIR address:
  ATTN: Yakkan Shomei Desk
  Implementation Division
  JET Programme Management Department
  Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR)
  Hanzomon Sogo Building
  Kojimachi 1-7
  TOKYO 102-0083