February in Japan, the peak of cold, cough, and flu season. In combination with last month’s OTC Pain Medicine in Japan post this should help you find medicines to make your time sick a little less miserable.

Please note, I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. If your symptoms are severe or persist for more than a day or two you should visit a doctor. Japan’s National Health Insurance (NHI) system makes visiting a doctor affordable—quite cheap actually! NHI also means the copay for prescription medicine is generally much less than the cost of OTC medicine. Many people skip buying OTC medicine completely and go straight to the doctor.

Cough Medicine

Japan’s most popular liquid cough syrup is BRON, and it comes in two main types:

  1. SS BRON Solution L which uses Dextrorphan (DXO) as its main active ingredient. You can see the maker’s website in Japanese here, and a Google Translate version in English here.
  2. New BRON Solution ACE which uses Dihydrocodeine as its main active ingredient. The maker’s website is available in Japanese here, and in English via Google Translate here.

It is difficult to recommend one over there other as the most effective type seems to depend on the individual person.


Many people think that the active decongestant ingredient in Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine Hydrochloride, 塩酸プソイドエフェドリン in Japanese) is banned in Japan but as of this writing it is the active ingredient in many Japanese OTC decongestants. I would be cautious about bringing Pseudoephedrine HCl into Japan however and you should contact your closest Japanese Embassy for confirmation about legalities. Laws and rules can change and Japan has zero tolerance for medicines that are not legal.

A popular and effective Pseudoephedrine HCl based decongestant is Pabron Bien Capsules S Alpha (パブロン鼻炎カプセルSα in Japanese). I find that two capsules can be too much and often take only one.

The “Pabron” brand is used for many different types of cough & cold medicine and quite a few are in similar packaging. If you are looking to buy the decongestant version at your local drugstore be sure to double check that you are buying the right product! You may wish to show the pharmacist the Amazon page (linked above) or the Japanese name from this page.

Cold Medicine

Benza Block L Plus (ベンザブロックLプラス) is one of the best comprehensive cold medicines available in Japan and is my go-to if I’m sick enough to take medicines like this. Each dose of two pills contains both 150mg Ibuprofen and 45mg Pseudoephedrine HCl (Sudafed) along with several other medicines designed to relieve cold & flu symptoms. Besides being available on Amazon Japan it is sold in nearly every Japanese drugstore.

Pabron S Gold W Tablets (パブロンSゴールドW錠) is probably the top selling comprehensive cold relief medicine in Japan and you will find it in every drugstore and of course on Amazon Japan. You can read the full ingredients list in this English PDF directly from the maker. It covers all the bases of the typical cold though: Fever, pain, coughing, phlegm issues, etc.

Stay healthy everyone and next month we’ll write about non-drowsy antihistamines!