Understanding the Signs: Drug Store Aisles

During my recent trip to the drugstore to pick up some hydrogen peroxide, I figured I would also get some toothpaste. As you know, drugstores like to play hide-and-seek with the items you need most, so I began my search by looking at the signs that hang over each aisle.

Guess what? The signs were all written in Japanese! The English word “toothpaste” did not appear anywhere, but neither did 歯磨き粉 (hamigakiko), the Japanese equivalent. I finally found the word 歯ブラシ (haburashii, “toothbrush”), which was close enough. But it got me thinking: What do all of those other signs say?

If you are wondering the same thing, consider the following table, which documents many of the product categories available throughout the store.

芳香剤hōkōzaiair freshener
鎮痛薬chintsūyakuanalgesic, painkiller
ベビー用品bebii yōhinbaby goods
入浴剤nyūyokuzaibath powders
漢方薬kanbōyakuChinese herbal medicines
かぜ薬kazegusuricold remedies
せき止め薬sekidomegusuricough suppressants
胃腸ichōdigestive remedies
目薬megusurieye drops
柔軟剤jyūnanzaifabric softener
洗顔senganface soap
生理用品seiri yōhinfeminine hygiene
ドリンク剤dorinkuzaihealth drinks
住居洗剤jyūkyo senzaihousehold cleansers
衛生用品eisei yōhinhygiene products
台所用洗剤daidokoroyō senzaikitchen cleansers
衣料用洗剤iryōyō senzailaundry detergents
男性用化粧品danseiyō keshōhinmale grooming products
エチケット用品echiketto yōhinnail clippers, hair trimmers
鼻炎薬biengusurinasal remedies
基礎化粧品kisokeshōhinskin-care products

This table just scratches the surface of what drugstores have to offer, a scratch for which they likely offer a healing salve. If you want to see the full list of words from the aisle signs at my local drugstore complete with hiragana readings, click the link shown below.

Downloadable Content Available

Click here to access the vocabulary list for this article.

Tim Odagiri

Tim Odagiri is an author, software developer, and the host of Japan Everyday. He has published more than a dozen books and hundreds of articles covering technology, current events, and now life in Japan. Find his latest books at OwaniPress.com.

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