Return to
Japan With Kids Home Page

Forum Main Page
Keyword Search
New Posts
Last Week

Getting Started
Register Here
Edit Profile
Contact Admin

For Admins
Forum Software


Japan With Kids - Forums: Health Topics: Allergies
By Cornelia on Monday, April 8, 2002 - 5:44 pm:

In Tokyo, from early February to about May the pollen starts flying. In the south this season would start earlier and in Hokkaido of course somewhat later. The Japanese word for allergy symptoms is kafunsho which may include irritation of eyes, nasal obstruction and sometimes asthma.

Chronologically first and famous is the Japanese Cedar pollen allergy, sugi kafun. There is a higher incidence in urban areas than in the country side. The cause is believed to be the pro-longed exposure over time to an element of diesel fuel exhaust which is very similar to the sugi pollen and causes urban people who are prone to the allergy to be sensitized more quickly.

Japanese Cypress (hinoki) pollen is released after the Japanese Cedar and continues until after Golden Week sometime.

Many pollen allergies are geographically pinpointed. For example, in Nagano white birch (shirakaba) pollen is famous.

Prevention of symptoms is best, with a drug taken before the pollen starts flying. Zaditen (brand name) is an antihistimine (ketotifen fumarate) prescribed in Japan a few weeks ahead of the season starting. Also commonly used is Intal (brand name), an antiasthmatic, also known as DSCG (cromolyn sodium). It is used by external application only (eyedrops, nose spray and inhaler) and thus has no side effects. If the allergy reaction is very severe than a pill may be prescribed.

On the subject of trees, kusunoki is the big camphor tree in the movie "Spirited Away" (Sento Chihiro), but there isn't much talk of a camphor pollen allergy perhaps because there aren't that many of them in Tokyo. There is, however, a famous one close to Hongo San-chome station in Bunkyo-ku, where I live.

There are a couple of very useful pages on allergies in the Japan Health Handbook, a book I highly recommend if you don't speak Japanese and will be living in Japan (Kodansha International, 1995). For allergy detection and treatment the Japan Allergy Center in Shimbashi, Tokyo (03)3591-5464 and the National Children's Hospital in Setagaya-ku (03) 3414-8121 are among those listed.

By Cornelia on Thursday, October 31, 2002 - 6:31 am:

Apparently last weekend we changed seasons. NHK weather report's winter weather chart is now in place. Saturday (23 Oct) to Sunday (24 Oct) the typhoon season ended.

Air pressure over the Japan sea is now low (the west) and over the Pacific Ocean it is high (the east). This means that temperature goes down and humidity stays low.

This is really pertinent to people who suffer allergies and allergy related asthma. September and October are statistically the worst months for childhood asthma attacks in Japan. From now the conditions have changed and the number of incidents will decrease or go to zero until Spring.

My daughter is suffering childhood asthma (allergy induced), so I am very relieved that we have a few fairly clear months ahead of us. I'm happy with the doctor she has, the explanations and the treatment. But it has been a learning process for both of us.

By Patrice Lancien on Monday, April 21, 2003 - 10:15 pm:

Does anyone know of an allergist that does P/N (provocation and neutralization) treatments here in Tokyo? Has anyone had these done for food allergies? Also, does anyone know about biokinetics and their effect on allergies?

I am having a lot of issues with my almost four year old son and food allergies and would appreciate any information.


By Sraboni Dutta on Monday, April 21, 2003 - 11:40 pm:

Hi Patrice,

I can't tell you much about food allergy. But my 4 year old son also has got a lot of allergic problems. Initially it was skin rashes (all red and itching and really bad) after one year of treatment the skin rashes are all gone but then came another problem - asthma.
I stay in Musashi Koyama, Meguro-ku. There is one Doctor in this area, very near the station, who speaks some English and he is an allergy specialist, treating all kind of allergic problems. I am quite happy with him.
As per as the food is concerned, somebody suggested me "Organic Food". So, I have shifted totally to organic Food (Radish Boya).

Regards, Sraboni

By Cornelia on Tuesday, April 22, 2003 - 10:55 am:

My pediatrician has a particular interest in allergies. I have written about her under the sub-category called "Health Topics: Doctors: Pediatricians"
She practices at a hospital in Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo.

However, we have not found any major food allergies with my daughter yet, just dust mites, and cat dander.

Here, for fun, is a photo of a super enlarged dust mite:
dust mite

By Carmen on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 1:07 pm:

What kind of medications/treatments do doctors use to treat asthma and allergies in Japan? Both of my boys (3yr, 10 month) suffer from allergies. The younger one is allergic to fruits and the old one has asthma (the doctor is still trying to figure out what he is allergic to.) Do doctors prescribe Flovent, Albuterol, SingularEtc? I am just wondering if I should stock up on the medications before our move in August.

By Arunee Salonsky on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 10:53 pm:

Hello, My name is Arunee. I am very concerned about my 3 months old baby has been coughing for about 2 months. Does anyone know a pediatrician who can speak English that lives in Narita city, I would appreciate your help.
Thank you
Arunee Salonsky

By Paula on Friday, March 19, 2004 - 7:26 pm:

I found this on the web, never been there but seems close to you.

Narita Red Cross Hospital
90-1, Iidacho,
Narita-Shi, Chiba-Pref.

Tel: (0476) 22 2311 Departments: except Dentistry
Contact: Ms Ryuzaki, Interpreter/qualified nurse in Japan & Canada

By Cornelia on Wednesday, April 28, 2004 - 10:25 am:

My daughter is allergic to the dust mite droppings. Several people have told me in so many words that it's my housecleaning that is causing her allergy attacks... The first thing I found out is that where there are humans there are dust mites. They are called dust mites because they are too small to see, but they actually feed on human skin that has been shed, not on dust.


One of the most common sources of year-round allergies are tiny creatures called dust mites that are found in almost every home. These little critters feed on the skin we shed. It's not dust mites themselves that cause problems but their droppings, which contain proteins that can trigger allergic symptoms in susceptible people.

The good news is that she is growing out of it. We've only had one major episode so far this year, and it was triggered in someone else's house (they were moving so there was a lot of debris in the air). Anyway, for any other Mums out there struggling with allergies in a young child, I totally sympathize. Some people shed skin at a faster rate than others, and the very person who is telling you your cleaning isn't good enough might be the one providing more food for the dust mites. I found that keeping the window open actually helps because refreshing the air in the room helps remove airborn dust mite droppings. Of course if your child has additional seasonal allergies to pollens, then that might not be an option.

The single biggest thing is keeping the sheets on the bed washed. And this helps a lot. Especially since the majority of child hood asthma attacks actually start between 2 and 4 am while sleeping.

By Yuko Kubota on Wednesday, April 28, 2004 - 1:06 pm:

I've been there. My son was highly allergic to chicken eggs and he still can't eat that much of it at age 12, but is much better now. The annoying thing was that we kept no chicken nor eggs in our house until he was 2 years old, and still his rash never disappeared during that time. I sense it was dust.

I wouldn't call it "discrimination", but there's a whole lot of "ignorance" when it comes to allergy and people _including doctors_ give you every harrassing comment they can make to make you feel like you're a horrible mother.

Yes, some might comment on your cleaning, but I tell you, look around and you'll notice you're the best cleaner around. It's just that it requires such hard work to keep your house clean enough for an allergic kid, and there is no limit to it.

One tip might be to get rid of everything you can and keep the house as spacy and mite-nest-free as possible. In particular, cloth and corrugated cardboard (is this how you call "danboru"?), stuffed animals and cushions can be a very comfortable place for mites.

Maybe it was my imagination that natural soap made my son better. But at the same time, natural soap don't wash away fat and protein so easily and will attract mold on your washing machine, so you shouldn't forget to clean the machine occasionally (there are natural cleansers available), and check if the child's underwear is not blackened.

But all this has been a mere suggestion from me. It's best to become a member of a neutral organization for allergic people (I was a member of Atopikko Chikyu no Ko) and collect reliable info on your own, because allergy can be different on each person.

Good luck to people with allergic families. You're not alone!

By Ritu on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 12:00 am:

Hi Everyone:

I'm writing to ask if anyone is aware of any anti house-mite sprays available in Japan, or on line? We're living in a 2 level house with carpeting and can do nothing to get rid of what is probably the cause of the problem. My long suffering spouse is at his wits end - we've tried acupuncture, dermatologists, internal medicine etc. etc and what seems to have become round the clock cleaning - all to no avail.

Also, is there any pharmacy that sells U.S.prescription drugs? I need augmentin and cefzil for my 6 and 4 year olds who don't seem to respond too well to the anitbiotics dispensed here.

Anyone out there with any information on the above or any advice/suggestions, especially on the house mites problem, I would be eternally grateful!

Many thanks. (I'm in Tokyo, by the way).

By Yuko Kubota on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 1:58 am:

Hi Ritu,

Although I've never tried them, anti house-mite poisons are available at almost any drug store in Japan. Just tell them you're having trouble with "dani."

But I'm wondering if you have already discussed with your landlord to see if you can have all the carpeting taken off from your house. Wooden floors are more popular, and I see no reason for the landlord to refuse it, unless there are financial reasons.

Good luck from another allergy family.

By Vicky Kobayashi on Wednesday, November 10, 2004 - 8:42 pm:

My 8 year old son has been diagnosed with severe nut allergies. We live in Hokkaido so I am looking for an allergy specialist in the Sapporo area - does anyone have any leads?

Also, does anyone have information sheets in Japanese for the school? They are having a hard time getting it, and it is frightening and frustrating me.

Thanks in advance!

By Cornelia on Thursday, November 11, 2004 - 6:44 am:

Dear Vicky,
My daughter's pediatrician has made allergies sort of her sub-specialty (as I've mentioned above) and I will ask her if she can find some web links in Japanese for you to print out and take to the school. Also I read in Newsweek a few months ago that they have found that the severity of peanuts allergy in young children often lessons with age, and that the child should be re-tested later. (we are in Tokyo)

By Vicky Kobayashi on Thursday, November 11, 2004 - 7:56 pm:

Thank you for that Cornelia - would you also ask her if she has anyone she could recommend in Sapporo?

Thanks for your quick response!

By Scott Hancock on Sunday, May 1, 2005 - 10:12 pm:

At National Clinic recently, I noticed they now supply EpiPen ( ), which I thought was not previously sold in Japan. Seems maybe a new situation.


By Ellie Miller on Saturday, January 14, 2006 - 1:19 pm:

I am hoping someone can please help me with this. I am travelling to Japan with my 6 year old for 3 weeks in April. She has a life threatening allergy (anaphylaxis) to peanuts. I am a nurse and will be carrying emergency equipment, but if the worst happens, I will need an ambulance and hospital.
(I am hypervigilant about avaioding peanuts and will be carrying cards in Japanese to show food preparation staff etc. I will be on constant gaurd to ensure she has no exposure.)
Unfortunately, our travel insurance does not cover food allergy. ( am still trying to find one that does - no luck).
I need to know roughly how much cash to have on hand for an emergency.
As tourists, will we need to pay for an ambulance?
How do you pay for emergency care in Japan?
And, most importantly, please reassaure me we won't be turned away in an emergency due to lack of insurance. ( I can and will pay, but will I be believed? I speak some Japanese)
Any help very much appreciated.

By Scott Hancock on Saturday, January 14, 2006 - 3:24 pm:


In addition to the cards with Japanese for food preparation, I'm sure you are also preparing some for the medical condition / terminology. That would be helpful, I think.

Emergency care is usually paid by citizens' national health insurance. The one time I used it, I didn't have the card and they said "never mind". So, I would not worry about being denied emergency care. Ambulances are called for more trivial things than in the U.S. and I have always found the crews to be very caring. Their training & equipment is only recently being improved to the standards of N.A. But, still a ways to go on that.

They don't usually speak much English, but case-by-case.

The procedure for the ambulance crew, when they pick up someone in need is that they have to get on the radio with a dispatcher to find a hospital with a room and the matching service for the moment. In other words, they don't just zoom off to the nearest ER.

Credit cards are accepted at hosptials now, in my experience. But, having 100,000 yen in cash (about $1,000) is not a bad idea.

Even many taxis now take credit cards. The ones that do have English sign somewhere on the outside. Handy when they don't have change.

If you will be in Tokyo, Tokyo Medical & Surgical Clinic (03-3432-6134 emergency number) will - for a fee - connect you to an on-duty English speaking M.D. who can help negotiate finding a proper and available hospital in an emergency. Not sure how they deal with visitors, but they seem to try to be helpful.

You should also definitely rent a cell phone for while you're here. There are very few public phones since mobiles became universal. You'll want to have that ability to call and be called in the situation your preparing for.

By Scott Hancock on Saturday, January 14, 2006 - 3:28 pm:

I have been in maybe 6-8 different ER and most do not have English speakers.

You might want to identify in advance a hospital that is used to treating anaphylaxis. As I noted above, recently Epi-Pen seems to have become approved here.

By Nancy on Saturday, January 14, 2006 - 6:29 pm:


As an allergy sufferer I understand your concerns. Based on personal experience, I just wanted to prepare you for what may happen to you in a restaurant when you present your card. The server will have no idea of how the food is prepared and will take the card to the manager, who may take it to the kitchen. In all likelihood several staff will then come back to your table and hopefully explain what may be acceptable. You may have to explain about cross contamination. If the server answers you on the spot, be careful. Unless the server is the cook, they can't be sure. I have lived in Japan for years and have managed to avoid a trip to the emergency room and I atttribute this to the fact that I too am vigilant but that for the most part the staff here are very caring and will take the time and trouble to ensure that you can eat safely. On more than one occasion I have had a server show me an ingredient from the kitchen to obtain my approval on whether they can use it. This does get some strange looks from other diners. J

As for the ER room, years ago when we were here for a visit, we had a medical emergency. We went to St. Luke's Hospital and there were English speaking staff there. While they would did not tell us what was wrong(pneumonia) the medication given was correct.

By Amy Uehara on Sunday, May 7, 2006 - 3:46 am:

Emergency room visit.
This week I have been having a continual low-grade fever with acute bronchial symptoms. I generally avoid doctors if it seems like rest and tea and a pharmacy might do the trick. Usually, my illnesses are due to some allergic reaction or fatigue. I began wheezing this evening and my throat became contracted. This seems to happen more so recently when the Yellow Sand (KOUSA) from China is stronger. Has gotten better since the restrictions on diesel fuel.
I decided to go to the ER at a nearby rural hospital. My husband went with me and was asked if we'd called first. No. So, I was told to wait and he went to register me. A nurse came and took my temperature-37.8. Then she came with a machine that went over my fingernail to test the oxygen (I'm not sure, actually, but think that is what she said.) She said it may not read clearly as I had polish on.
Was asked in to see the doctor.
I thought he would get out a stethoscope to listen to my lungs which others could hear clearly with the raspy sound. He did not. I started to explain my allergies to air born chemicals, triggered by typhoons and Yellow Sand and north winds... but I had no idea if I had an allergy, an asthma-like attack, or pneumonia or bronchitis or whatever. I was just in need of something to assist my breathing.
He said, "So, why are you here?"
"I am trying to explain my symptoms and history which relate to why I am here."
"Just get to the point. What brought you here?"
"I couldn't breathe and that seemed important."
Without any information, no listening to my chest, he said, "Here, I'll give you medication and see a doctor during regular hours." He was extremely rude and I was shocked.
He had no idea if I had an allergy to any medication. I left without getting the medication and in poor health managed to say a few things. He didn't care and the nurse was surprised that I would just leave. I apologized for taking up their time. I thought not being able to breathe was kind of significant and wanted a bit of pure oxygen. He indicated or blatantly said that it was not his job to have to listen to me at night. What would have happened to a severe asthma sufferer? I was pretty close to that.
I came home, tried to calm myself and used steam and other pharmacy-recommended medication and managed to sleep. The week-long low-grade fever broke, hence my 2a.m. letter here.
I don't have actual asthma just recurring asthma-like symptoms (close enough at times) and have been told "to keep a paper bag near my bed for breathing."
It is kind of scary, because if I have to experience a place where extreme dust is around, like an earthquake shelter, for example, I know I will have a respiratory attack like I had.
Here is an article with figures about the effects of Asian Dust on the Daily Mortality in Seoul, Korea.
It is just one more thing to think about for people with respiratory problems. Funny, I have no problem with pets.
Anyone notice an increase in breathing problems in April and May due to this yellow sand movement?

By Jillann Grooms on Sunday, May 7, 2006 - 9:55 am:

I have only been living in Tokyo for less than a year, but I can relate to your reaction to medical care here. I have been an emergency room nurse for 20 years in the US and the medical care here is, in my opinion, behind the standards and care of the US. I found myself with a serious medical condition after arriving here last fall. After many doctors and clinics I found the best help to be at an English speaking clinic geared towards foreigners. Many of the doctors there have a more Westernized approach (I too have heard of doctors here that don't even listen to your lungs with respiratory symptoms which is medicine 101 most other places in the world!) The thing you described that they put over your finger is called a pulse oximeter and it measures the saturation of oxygen in your blood, usually pretty accurate. The fact that you have a fever sounds like you may have an infectious process of some sort. I would follow up with a doctor tomorrow if you're not better, I don't know about the particular allergy you're talking about but the fever and difficulty breathing is not something to mess around with too many days, could be bronchitis or pneumonia. I don't know what country's medicine you are used to, but if you want a more western approach I would try Tokyo Medical and Surgical or National Medical Clinic or the British Clinic.
Bottom line, I'm not trying to dis the entire Japanese medical world, I've just noticed some of the differences with western medicine. It must be working here for the general Japanese population although the fact that they do virtually no organ transplants here blows my mind, but again, it's part of the culture I don't understand and probably never would unless I grew up here!

By Amy Uehara on Sunday, May 7, 2006 - 11:17 am:

Hello, Jillann,
Thank you for your kind response. That also is a great help. I have over the years here had experiences that belong in horror films. Once a doctor with no socks on had to cut an infected breast. The thought of going all the way to Tokyo when not well is daunting, but I think it may well be the best solution to finding medical care givers with imagination and the desire to do a little research. I am now looking for places that specialize in this KOUSA or Yellow Sand problem that is much more of a problem than pollen as there actually seem to be particles from aluminum and so on.
Here is a Japanese article:
I know someone who works for an environmental agency. I will seek his assistance in the matter.
Also, I will try to get to a clinic I used to use in the meantime and later, try to find a good place in Tokyo.
Once again, thank you for your concern.

By Tara on Sunday, May 7, 2006 - 11:29 am:

"Yellow sand" is just a direct translation of the Japanese word "kousa," which is probably the reason why you are having trouble googling it to get information. It is not the term used internationally for this issue. The name used by the UN, the Ministry of the Environment of Japan, etc. is "Dust and Sand Storms," often abbreviated simply as "DSS." Try googling on that, with "dust and sand storms" surrounded by double quotation marks, and you will increase your number of 'hits' by tenfold.

By Amy Uehara on Sunday, May 7, 2006 - 12:15 pm:

Hello, Tara,
Thank you but I don't recollect saying I was having trouble googling it. I am not necessarily interested in sand storms in other regions yet all meteorological information is valid and I am studying these, but I am particularly interested in the sand that comes from the Gobi desert and brings with it the pollution from an area not up to international standards.
Yellow Sand brings a hit in Japanese of 1,480,000 or so and in English, 16,300,000 whereas the Dust and Sand Storm search was 4,280,000.
Having grown up on the plains in the USA, I have seen the sand storms, and heard about them in the Middle East. But this respiratory problem I have at this moment, (albeit a self diagnosis based on personal experience over 2 decades in Japan), is related to that sand that is unseen. It does not blow through town like a cowboy film and I forget about it although some could see traces of it if they knew what to look for. I have to prepare for it as others have to prepare for the pollen onslaught.
I would be interested in hearing if anyone has had a similar reaction.
It is almost summer, and time for folks to get out those little green coils called "katorisenko" that ward off mosquitoes. Please beware of their use if there are people with respiratory problems in your home. One year, I combined that with children doing fireworks, and a barbecue, and it was hard not a pretty sight.
Good health to you all.
Here is a site in Japanese that shows the movement and graphs it. Was at a peak in 2002 and now again in 2006.

By Tara on Sunday, May 7, 2006 - 12:55 pm:

I understand very well that you are referring to micro-particles. These particles go as far as Africa, traveling via the jet stream. The heavier particles arising from Mongolia and the PRC (Inner Mongolia in particular, but also from the sands creeping up on Beijing remarkably quickly from the northwest) are deposited typically within China itself (notably Beijing), on the Korean peninsula, and all across Japan (Kyushu in particular, although places such as Sapporo have been seeing lots of DSS haze over the last decade, with the storms of Spring 2002 having been particularly severe).

Obviously you are free to look it up using any term you want, but if it is a health issue you are interested in, what you are looking for to get access to the best and most updated scientific information on the topic is NOT "yellow sand" but DSS (dust and sand storms). A researcher (whether an environmental researcher or a health professional) will be referring to it as DSS, because that is the standard term used in the UN.

Your suggestion that " 'Sand storms' implies to me visible dust blowing through town; what I am talking about is the unseen particles" (paraphrasing your comments here) is entirely ungrounded. DSS is the technical name for the environmental phenomenon, and covers both the heavier particles deposited in Asia as well as the micro-particles which affect Hawaii and even travel as far as West Africa (big news in the summer of 2005, you might recall). Standardization of the term at the international level is relatively new in the scheme of things and you will still find some Japanese government sites that do indeed talk about "yellow sand"-- again, a mere translation of the Japanese word "kousa."

There are any number of people who have had a similar reaction to DSS. It is one of the growing health issues in Japan and a matter of great concern nationally. Note, for example, the invitation of Mongolia to attend the tripartite ministerial talks on DSS hosted in Tokyo in December 2004 as evidence of the heightened awareness of the issue at both the national and regional levels. If you have any Japanese acquaintances you might ask them for their experiences, as it is an issue which is in the Japanese press constantly. Korean acquaintances will also be very familiar with the issue, as the issue is even more severe there.

Hope that that helps you in your quest to get accurate and useful information on this very important issue.

By Amy Uehara on Sunday, May 7, 2006 - 1:15 pm:

Thank you, Tara for your continued interest and well-intended advice. I see that we are on the same wave length and that is why I posted the article about the sand problem in Korea in my earlier post and I said I would ask my Japanese friend who works for the environmental agency.
Fascinating, isn't it? Airbor particles have been a part of my life in Japan for years and it is comforting to know I share this with the Japanese nationals and other Asians in the path.
Happy googling.

By Suzanne on Monday, May 8, 2006 - 8:03 am:

You mentioned mosquito coils in one of your posts. Last summer I bought some all natural mosquito coils. I use them in our little back garden when the kids are outside playing. I know that some coils made in Asia are banned for sale in the US - they have an ingredient that is a known carcinogen. The ones I bought are from an all natural catalog and a Japanese friend read the ingredient list for me and said it was all natural.

My question is - do you or anyone else know if these are ok or should I stop using them around my kids? Thanks! Suzanne

By Cornelia on Monday, May 8, 2006 - 2:54 pm:

As the daughter of a doctor (I am allergic to doctors ;-) I can not stress enough that if you want good medical care, it is a really good idea to find a physician that you are comfortable with and BUILD A RELATIONSHIP. This is what General Practitioners (often they are also specialized, for example in pediatrics or internal medicine) are for. Once you have a relationship, you are usually given a home phone number, or nowadays a mobile phone number, and you then have an advocate on your side should anything happen to you at night or on holidays/weekends.

I personally have been very neglectful in finding a doctor for myself here in Japan, because of the communication issues and a series of dissatisfying experiences. I am guilty of not following my own advice on my own behalf. But I did find a pediatrician for my child that was nothing less than I could have wished for over the last 9 years, and it really made a difference! I know it isn't easy, but I highly advice anyone who is over 30 or 35 to do the footwork, and find a doctor they like. Your family (or personal) doctor can pave the way for your arrival at a hospital emergency room. He/she can give you good advice whether or not a visit to the ER is warranted, or if it should be OK to wait until the morning. And because this country is not swept up in medical litigation, the doctors (with whom you have a relationship, who know you and care about you) are often willing to try to give you advice over the telephone. I can't claim that you can build this type of relationship with every doctor, or that you will always be able to reach your doctor of choice, but your odds of getting assistance when you need it for something less obvious than a serious accident are much, much higher.

The emergency room situation in this country is very different from that in the USA. There is for example a recognized lack of pediatric emergency care available. I and others have written a bit about it under the topic "Emergency Medicine" at
This is due to the centrally planned nature of the National Health Care system and the priorities in resource allocation. For historical reasons, the priorities have not been developed in the same way that they have been in, for example, the USA. The best way to get good health care here is to prepare for health problems in advance. If, like my daughter, you have a known history of asthma, then it is a really good idea to have a permanent relationship with a doctor monitoring that illness, and hopefully attached to a clinic or hospital able to treat attacks 24/7. It makes all the difference if they have a chart on the patient already in hand.

The doctor's examination of Amy was rude, and possibly unprofessional. However, he could easily have dished out the same lack of scrutiny in a polite way, and she still would not have been any better off. BUILD A REALATIONSHIP. Once your doctor knows you, (s)he will not jump to conclusions upon first meeting you, but will already have your history to reference, and will take you seriously. Obviously, you don't have that luxury if you are travelling, but on one's home turf and as one ages, it is essential planning.

And now I will make a point to find and visit another doctor, in yet another attempt to find one for me!

By Amy Uehara on Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 9:24 am:

Suzanne, That is interesting about the coils and explains my reaction. I have never heard of natural coils. Would be interested in them. the candles used in the US (and for sale at COSTCO) seem to be safer and I do not have a reacton to them. Don't have time to look up what is in them now, however. Good luck to you. Amy

By Amy Uehara on Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 9:45 am:

Thank you, Cornelia, for your encouragement. I have become a bit cynical over the decades with the poor treatment from the medical field here. I have had better luck with alternative care givers.

When I came here, it seemed that allergies (yes, and one doctor confirmed that) were not studied and I was told I was "sensitive" or "delicate". But I would have the same reactions in the same places during the same seasons, so I learned from experience what worked and what I should avoid. I had an allergy test done, but things like pollutants did not show up then. Perhaps they do now.

I used to say that I would sneeze before a typhoon approached and they would say, "isn't that interesting?" Now, I understand more. Also, I just saw on the weather today that May has had fewer sunny days this year than usual. This is useful information also.

But, as you suggest, I should try to find a doctor to build a relationship with. And a letter of recommendation here is also so important. I got one for the birth of my second child and while that doctor was excellent and in total charge of my care, and I felt secure, still when the time for birth came, he was "out of town on a golf trip" and another fellow took the wheel with a different outlook. When I said, "but Dr. so and so said, " he replied," well I'm in charge now." This happened several times especially it seems that in some places, a doctor will work only on certain days and be at another place on other days. So, one has to get sick on Tuesdays between 9 and 11:30 a.m. to see the same doctor to establish a relationship with.

The best doctor I have found is our VETERINARIAN!! He shows us the microscope and talks and talks and talks about parasites and things I would rather not hear sometimesl The pets like him, too. (In Hachioji if anyone is interested for their animals.)
But, I will keep trying to find a creative medical doctor. Have a good day and good luck!

By Suzanne on Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 7:27 pm:

Amy & all,
The coils I bought are from Radish Boya. I tried to find them on the website, but I can't read Japanese, so I didn't have much luck. Once I have a chance, I'll ask one of my friends to translate the name for me. I have heard though, that inhaling too much incense can also be bad, so I wonder about the coils. They worked, but I was concerned what they were doing to my kids lungs.

Good luck on your quest to establish a good relationship with a doctor. That is really good advice.

note from Admin: The web site for Radish Boya is

By Janine Boyd on Thursday, July 6, 2006 - 12:47 am:

Does anyone know how I can check what preservatives are in the breads, rice etc
My son is 5 and was born in Japan. He has ezcma and despite all efforts to reduce his inflamations he regularly has flare ups that get so bad the inside of his elbows scab from the itching and of course his temperament is affected too.
He doesnt eat the common trigger food, eggs, milk, nuts, strawberries, etc etc...too long to list. He has a very bland diet which while balanced is limiting.
I am careful when shopping for new foods if theres a package mix to be included to check for his triggers and my biggest dilema is that I cant see what preservatives are in the foods.
Now here's the twist
He goes to Australia twice a yr where I feel the labelling is more comprehensive, he rarely has any skin troubles. He even eats everything because the grandparents cant fathom that mayonaise or ice cream has egg in it and its just plain mean to not share the strawberries. Thankfully his allergies are not life threatening!
Dustmite you say!! No we thought of that too and have even moved to a new house, new bedding once a year and do all the hot water washing etc but nothing changes whilst in Japan. He is definitely allergic to something here in Japan but after 5 yrs I am so frustrated that he has to suffer. What could the difference be between eggs in Oz to eggs in Japan? The feed they give the chickens perhaps??
I am interested in learning more about what the anti-mould preservatives might be called in Japanese so that I might try avoiding them too.
Any suggestions?
Here's an article about hyperactivity and preservatives possibly being linked. My son's activity levels appear to be affected after certain foods too. The article mentions that the additives have international numbers but I cant read Japanese scientific terminology so I am having trouble finidng out whats in the pack!
Thanks in advance

By Yuko Kubota on Thursday, July 6, 2006 - 1:23 am:

Hi Janine,

I have an allergic kid. Please refer to my previous posts on this thread. In fact, please refer to all the posts and you may be able to find clues that might help you.

But really, allergy is so unpredictable. Stress is a large factor too. Also air including humidity. I've never been to Australia, but I know people who suddenly breath better in Hawaii, and I understand that. Anyway, you never know, and sometimes the allergy gets better before you ever find the reason.

To answer your question about preservatives, it is labled on the food, and if not, you can inquire the maker. But if I were you, I'd just do my shopping at a "natural food store (shizen-shokuhin-ten)" where they sell food with no artificial preservatives, or at least they have a shopkeeper that can tell you all about it, plus tips on your allergy AND preservatives.

There are a lot of organic food/items delivery service available as well. They also accept members' various inquiries.

By Bethan Hutton on Thursday, July 6, 2006 - 2:12 am:

Have you thought about whether it could be the water here? I mean washing in it, not drinking it. I react badly to chlorinated pools, and also get skin problems at times when the mains water is heavily chlorinated here (you can often smell it). As far as I know, in Australia the water is not usually recycled/treated, so it probably doesn't have as much, if any, chlorine or other chemicals in it. Worth a thought. But it's hard to avoid using tap water...

By Amy Uehara on Thursday, July 6, 2006 - 8:18 am:

Hello, Janine,
I do hope your son gets better.
My daughter suddenly developed a scalp problem and we tried many things including steroids, different shampoos, no shampoos, psoraisis medication, hats,short hair, long hair and so on.
Now, she is 13 and it seems to have cleared. She had flakes and got teased or worse, people would avoid her. It may be that the longer hair protected her head from the sun and helped produce a little more oil. It could be that her hormones changed and it could be that .....who knows? We got little help.
As for the humidity, I agrea with Yuko. I am from an arid climate and had clear skin. When I came to Japan (20+years ago) my skin broke out, I couldn't wear any make up and just had an awful time with the climate. I admit it is smoother due to the humidity. I get an annual "end of winter" breakout around my neck. Other skin problems have gone away, but I feel for your son with the inner elbow reaction.
Someone suggested it was the talc they put on white rice. I wash it really well. I get an ear lobe infection from a former pierce and it goes away with a cream in a green tube called
"ORONAIN." It's good for athlete's feet, ring worm,pimples, cracking fo the skin,cuts, etc. It may work.
I used to get little bubbles between the fingers. It would itch so badly, I'd get aluminum foil to scratch so it would bleed and the pain would be better than thee itch. The cream worked for that and eventually, it went away. I think the air, and weather here are like a constant companion (sometimes unwanted) that needs to be dealt with or understood. For example, it seems a typhoon is headed our way. Time for me to get the antihistamine ready. Don't like to, but life has to be lived.

Here is an interesting article about allergies and learning to observe.
Your son needs to play a major role in observing himself. What may trigger the elbow reaction? Good luck.

By Yuko Kubota on Thursday, July 6, 2006 - 9:00 am:

Regarding Bethan's post, if it's water, you can try setting up water purifiers for your bath tub room and kitchen. I'm not sure if you can set it up for your washing machine. However, it could have been a coincident or maturity, but my son's atopy improved after I changed all detergents, shampoos etc. to natural soap.

Back to the topic on location, for example the imfamous kafun-sho (hay fever caused by ceder pollen), research shows that children in the city suffer more than children in the countryside near the ceder woods. They say it's the mixture of pollen and truck dust that causes allergy. Also, sea water is said to cure atopy. Perhaps you've already done this, Janine, but if you must live in Japan, you may want to keep trying travelling to various places within Japan and find a place that fits him.

Again, I'm sure you've tried this, but my son's skin condition used to get worse at our in-laws' where there were lots of people and furniture and less opening of windows.

I know that you may have tried or will try all of these things and still not get better. I've been there. But try to take it easy. How do you say "akenai yoru wa nai"? After a dark night, there is always dawn?

By Anne on Thursday, July 6, 2006 - 9:07 am:

hi Janine
I know this is a band-aid not a solution
but our little boy suffers from what is
know here as 'atopy'. Has suffered since 1.
He is now 3. We've tried everything just
like you have. Eggs seem to be a big
trigger but we don't eliminate too many
foods anymore because it depends on so
many other things and his skin goes from
clear to break out without rhyme or
reason. Scratching, of course, does
consistently make it worse. We tried many
creams and ointments, prescribed and
unprescribed. Finally, I found this cream
on the net that actually works as it touts it
does. Though I prefer an all natural cream
- I have not found one that works yet
(suggestions from anyone would be
appreciated). Freederm is not expensive as
1 jar lasts more than 2 months. I buy the
treatment cream and the moisturizer but
you can use any moisturizer as well as oil.
This cream took my boy's condition from
cronic to manageable so I thought I'd post
it here.
anne This site
is -not- a professional site but the cream
worked for us. I think there are other
creams out to the UK that look more
commercial with the same name but I have
not tried them and cannot vouch for them.

By Janine Boyd on Monday, July 10, 2006 - 9:35 pm:

Thank you to everyone for your responses.
I will look into everyone's recommendations that we can manage and still live as normal a life as possible. The battle goes on!

By Slpli on Friday, July 13, 2007 - 6:51 am:

Hi all! My family and I will be moving to Japan in October. We have a 2-year-old son who has multiple food allergies, with peanuts being the worst. We will try our best to avoid all identified allergens (he's been both skin-pricked and had the RAST done) but are most concerned about the peanuts since it is life-threatening (we carry an Epi-pen). I have a few questions re: peanut allergies:

- Are packaged foods as stringently labeled in Japan as they are in the US (even indicating whether a food was manufactured in a facility that processes peanuts)?
- Does anyone know of daycares/preschools in the Tokyo area that are peanut-free?
- How would we obtain emergency care if needed (is there a 911-like system there)?
- Can anyone recommend a good English-speaking pediatrician/allergist who is pro-natural/complementary medicine?

Thanks so much in advance for any help/advice you are able to provide.


By Helenagg on Friday, July 13, 2007 - 8:39 am:

I can't help with any of your questions but have found this a valuable link for allergy translations.
Good luck.

By Niimidan on Monday, October 29, 2007 - 9:22 pm:

Hi all,

My daughter may be asthmatic and I want her to see a specialist in allergies/asthma. Can recommend a good doctor, preferable English speaking, in the Kawasaki/Tokyo area. Are there any doctors who specialize in Asthma?

Thank you.

By Kurz on Thursday, March 27, 2008 - 11:41 am:

Is Zyrtec available in Japan? It is over the counter now in the USA.|1763903199

By Sandy on Thursday, April 10, 2008 - 10:47 pm:

TOKYO: Managing allergies with hypnosis.

The following announcement came in while we were out of the country on Spring Break, and of course it is too late now. But I was wondering if anyone here went to this and what they thought of it?
From: Mattison Karen tokyohypno [at]
*Hypnosis for Hayfever*
*Lecture and Demonstration*

Spring is coming! Although the cherry blossoms and other flowering plants are beautiful to behold, they can cause terrible allergies, especially the Japanese cedar. Learn how hypnosis works and how it can be used to overcome or manage allergies.

The demonstration will focus on allergies, but anyone interested in learning more about hypnosis is encouraged to attend.

When: Thursday, March 27
Registration: 6:30 pm
Lecture & Demonstration: 6:45 to 8:45 pm
Where: Minami Aoyama Conference Room
Price: 1000 yen

Add a Message

This is a private posting area. Only registered users and moderators may post messages here.