English speaking pharmacies in Tokyo

Poste date: Wednesday, February 21, 2018

If you're new to Tokyo or if you've ever lived anywhere other than your home country, then you know that having your medical needs met can be very different from what you are used to back home. That's not to say that the Japanese medical system isn't first rate, it is. It just has its own way of doing things. This includes some unique characteristics with regard to pharmacies and medical prescriptions. With that being said, here is what a Tokyo expat needs to know about filling prescriptions in Japan and where to find a pharmacy that provides services in English.

What to know about prescription drugs in Japan

There are two primary things to know about prescription drugs in Japan.

The first thing is that while many prescription drugs are available in Japan, they may not be exactly the same formulas as you have been using back home. While your doctor may prescribe a medication for you to meet your ailments, it may not provide the same relief as you'd expect. You should consult with your doctor about the specific effects and desired outcome of the medication prescribed if you have any questions or concerns.

The second thing is that in many cases, traditional herbal remedies, also known in Japanese as kampo, may be prescribed in addition to or instead of prescription drugs. This is not to say that the Japanese medical community doesn't believe in modern medicine, but rather that the traditional remedies still retain a great deal of respect even today. Medicinal herbs are regulated just like drugs so you can be confident of their quality if prescribed by your doctor. One thing to note is to only take these regulated medicinal herbs under the care of a doctor. Some of the herbs can be dangerous in the wrong doses so please don't assume it's harmless just because it's referred to as an herb.

When to fill your prescription: In Japan or abroad?

If you are planning to move to Tokyo and considering whether or not to get your prescription filled in Japan or in your home country, here are a few things to consider.

  • There are some drugs that can often be obtained in other countries with a prescription that are illegal in Japan, so be careful when considering whether to fill a prescription abroad. Consult the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare's guidelines for additional details.
  • For allowable prescription drugs, you can bring one month's supply into the country for personal use. If you are planning to bring more than this, you need to get a “Yakkan Shoumei” in advance, which is an import certificate approved by pharmaceutical inspectors appointed by the Japanese government. The process is outlined on the above ministry site.
  • If you have specific injectable drugs (like an insulin pump) or other medical equipment like a CPAP device, these also need to be approved by pharmaceutical inspectors. Make sure to get the Yakkan Shoumei prior to traveling to Japan with these items.
  • Also be aware that there are several classes of over-the-counter drugs that are common in other countries that are illegal in Japan. Examples include some painkillers and some allergy medicines.

What you need when refilling a foreign prescription at a Japanese pharmacy

Another important thing to note is that Japanese pharmacies cannot fill a foreign prescription. If you need a prescription filled, either do it before you travel to Japan (subject to the above guidelines) or else wait until you arrive in Japan and make an appointment with an English-speaking doctor to obtain your prescription.

English-speaking pharmacies in Tokyo

If you need to get a prescription filled in Tokyo, below are a few options for pharmacies that provide services in English and will be able to help you.

National Azabu Supermarket Pharmacy

Yakuju Pharmacy Roppongi Izumi Garden

  • This pharmacy is located on the 4th floor of the Izumi Garden complex, which is directly across the street from Roppongi-Itchome Station. They can fill prescriptions from any doctor in Japan and are open from 10 am–6 pm, Monday–Friday. In addition to filling prescriptions, they also offer over-the-counter medicines of all types as well as other common medical supplies.
  • 1-6-1 Roppongi, Minato-Ku, Tokyo
  • http://izumigarden.jp/en/shop/4-e.html
  • 03-3568-3370

The Pharmacy at Tokyo Medical and Surgical Clinic

Conclusion

Knowing that you have someone to talk with in English about your prescription needs can be a huge relief, and we hope that this article has been helpful. For more information about English medical services in and around Tokyo, check out our medical articles.

  • Hay Fever in Japan - Kafunsho

    Hay Fever season in Japan is generally from mid-February till mid-April. Those suffering from Hay Fever (Kafunsho) may find it hard to go outside or even get through a days work without going through a box or two of tissues. Here is some general information about hay fever in Japan, its history, why it persists, and some useful tips to survive.
  • Childbirth in Tokyo: Maternity Hospitals and Clinics for Expats

    Many options are available to foreigners giving birth in Japan. Maternity care in Japan is offered through a variety of institutions including large hospitals, small specialized maternity clinics, and midwife practices that emphasize natural birthing. Maternity hospitals with English-speaking staff are listed below.
  • Plastic Surgery Tokyo: Expat’s Guide to English-Speaking Surgeons

    Tokyo is already a world leader in plastic surgery, and the practice only becomes more popular with time, even with international clients. If you are in need of English-speaking services in Tokyo, we can help guide you to the right surgeon for the procedure you are seeking.
  • Health Care in Japan

    Everyone living in Japan is required to enroll in its health care system. In Japan, anything that is considered a medical treatment is covered under the health care system. For those enrolled, the co-payment will not exceed 30% of the total cost of a treatment provided.
  • Health Insurance in Japan: A Guide for Long-term Residents

    National Health Insurance is required for all residents in Japan, including foreigners. Private insurance in Japan does exist, but is not mandatory as the National Health Insurance covers everything that can be categorized as a medical treatment. Here is a guide to health insurance in Japan to answer all your questions.
  • Bringing Medication to Japan: What to Know Before You Travel

    Japan has strict rules on the amounts and types of medication that can be brought into Japan. Be sure to read our guide before you travel to Japan or if you plan to import medicine from countries outside of Japan.