Often when you visit another country, one thing on everyone’s to-do list is a little shopping. It’s always interesting to see what products a foreign country offers that you can’t find back home. It’s also weird and fun to see the products you are familiar with presented in a different way.
One of the main reasons Chinese tourists visit Japan is to shop. It’s not uncommon to see a Chinese visitor enter a store and drop the equivalent of hundreds of U.S. dollars – usually in cash – on seemingly everyday products like clothes or electronics, but in some cases store shelves are picked completely clean.
But what’s on these tourists’ shopping lists? Here are 11 “godly” pharmacy products that Chinese visitors simply have to buy when they visit Japan.
When thinking about your next vacation, you normally wouldn’t consider over the counter medicinal goods to be the purpose of your trip. That’s exactly the reason for many Chinese tourists, though, who come to Japan and line up in front of drugstores before they even open. These shoppers will buy a bunch of items in bulk and leave having spent on average 20-30,000 yen (US$160-240), with some big-time shoppers spending close to 50,000 yen at one drug store.
Can’t think of $200 worth of things to buy at a drugstore? Well, maybe you will after reading this list.
- Eye drops
- Anti-inflammatory medicine
- Liquid bandages
- Cooling patches
- Headache medicine
- Keratin softener
- Cysteine medicine
- Constipation medicine
- Canker sore medicine
- Feminine hygiene products
- Throat lozenges/cough drops
It may seem strange for eye drops to be at the top of the list, but it’s not uncommon for Chinese people to carry them in their purse, back pocket or pencil case. When Chinese shoppers are asked why they buy these in Japan, they reportedly answer, “Chinese products don’t work at all, whereas Japanese items, especially painkillers, are really effective.” We suppose it makes sense to stock up after all!
Another popular commodity is adhesive bandages/plasters, especially amongst women. They claim that Japanese plasters don’t come off when you are cooking or getting your hands wet, making them much more convenient. Adhesive bandages are also cheap and light, so they make for a good souvenir and can be bought in bulk.
Chinese shoppers’ comments that Japanese medicine is more effective might seem odd to expatriates living in Japan, since dosages for painkillers and other medicine are usually quite a bit lower than versions you can find in western countries. However, since China is much closer to Japan than the U.S., Chinese travelers looking to buy some non-prescription drugs will continue to flock to Japan, and around 10 million Chinese tourists are expected to visit Japan this year alone.
If you happen to be suffering from dry eyes while in Japan and pop into a store to find them all sold out of eye drops, now you know why. You may find yourself lining up before the stores open just to get some!