Winter is the time for colds and flus, and nobody is immune. Many foreigners dread getting sick overseas, especially when they aren’t sure how the Japanese health system works or just what kind of medicine they’re being prescribed. During my nasty bout of sinus-related woes this winter, I stumbled across くすりのしおり(Drug Information Sheet), an online bilingual guide to Japanese medications.
While doctors in Japan will almost always give you printouts with information on the medications you’re receiving, they are seldom in English, which is where this site really comes in handy. You can look up your medication in Japanese or English, by company, or through other more specific means such as the active substance, dosage form, print on wrapping, or other keywords. There is also an option to look through names of medications alphabetically, which is great if you’re not that well-versed in Japanese and someone has told you the name but you don’t quite remember it.
Another wonderful feature of this site is that with each entry for the medications is a picture of what it looks like, so again, those with limited Japanese or those who aren’t quite sure what they’ve found is the same thing as what’s in their hand can compare it visually. If you’re searching for medications specific to a certain function or area of the body, the left-hand “advanced search” option allows you to search (in English) by area of the body or type of medicine (internal, external, etc.).
For each medication there is a brief explanation in English of what it is typically used for, and if you click for the Japanese version there is a full explanation with extensive details provided in Japanese. There are also direct links to the pharmaceutical company that produces each medication in case you want to investigate even further.
This is a really handy quick reference for those not familiar with Japanese medications, so be sure to bookmark it, just in case the occasion arises!