Buying deodorant in Japan!

This year, many parents worried about earthquakes and radiation when their children came to Japan. But one source of anxiety more constant than that is the availability of deodorant.

You’re thinking, wait, what? Isn’t deodorant one of those things you can buy anywhere in the world? Well, yes — Japanese people do use deodorant. But the standard here is a little different from what Americans are used to. The most common types of deodorant are wipes (like the wet wipes your parents used to use on your face) and powders. And most of the deodorant you can buy doesn’t include antiperspirant. Apparently Japanese people don’t sweat.

For those of us who do, then, deodorant is one of those legendary challenges of living here. Most people coming to Japan just bring a huge supply of the stick-style deodorant and don’t have to worry. I only packed one, so I was pretty worried about having to go into Tokyo and find some specialty Western-goods store or something.

Just to exhaust my more local options before taking the trip, I stopped by the department store near ICU today — and they had an impressive selection, including, miraculously, stick-type! It was at least twice as expensive as in the United States. What I ended up buying is smaller than the size of my hand and it cost about US$10.

Notice that it says, in English, “for problem perspiration.” A little jab at us sweaty foreigners?

(In case you’ve stumbled on this post out of desperation for deodorant: I bought this one at Ito-Yokado, a department store chain you can find all over Japan. I’ve heard you can also find American-style deodorant at Don Quixote and Tokyu Hands in the bigger cities.)


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