The ultimate guide to combatting Hay Fever - Kafunsho in Japan

05:29 03/29/2024

Flowers are starting to bloom all over Japan as the country shifts from winter to spring. This can only mean one thing: Kafunsho - or hay fever in English.

Kafunsho is a huge issue in Japan, to the point that it has pollen dispersion forecasts and daily updates on the state of pollen dispersion and pollen level. As there are many cases of foreigners developing pollen allergy only after coming to the country, in this article, GoEMON will guide you through some of the best methods to combat hay fever in Japan. 

I. What is hay fever (Kafunsho)?

The primary cause for Kafunsho in Japan is due to the pollen from two native Japanese tree species, sugi, and hinoki, also known as cedar and Japanese cypress accordingly. Japanese people started to suffer from kafunsho after the trees that were mass-planted post-World War II matured. 

The hay fever season in Japan generally starts in February and lasts until May or June,  depending on the region. Allergic reactions occur because the immune system recognizes pollen as a foreign particle that has entered the body and needs to be destroyed. The release of substances that destroy pollen causes allergy symptoms which causes discomfort for many people. 

II. Symptoms of hay fever: 

  • Itchiness; runny, stuffy, or blocked nose
  • Sneezing
  • Teary or red-eyed. Eyes are itchy, red, swollen, and appear puffy.
  • Sore throat or continuous coughing.
  • Itchy skin.
  • Tiredness.
  • Decreased sense of taste.

III. How to prevent hay fever in Japan:

Wearing masks: One simple but effective method is to wear a mask when going out. The mask can help block the pollen from directly affecting your respiratory system. We recommend choosing masks of good quality for better protection, such as those with 99%ウイルスカット on its packaging. 


Wearing anti-pollen glasses: For many, eye allergies cause the eye to become red, itchy, and painful are even more annoying than nose and mouth allergies. Sometimes, such eye allergies can also cause eye discharge, which makes it difficult for one to open their eyes. Thus, those with sensitive eyes should also wear glasses to prevent pollen from getting into their eyes.. 


Check air pollen level: One of the first and foremost things that you can do daily during the Kafunsho seasons is to check the air pollen level. On days when the air pollen level is high, you should refrain from leaving your house, drying your clothes outside, and opening the windows. Remember that pollen levels in the air are usually higher as the weather warms up, especially on the first sunny day after a rainy day and on sunny, windy days with dry air. 

Clean your house frequently to get rid of the pollen: Cleaning your house with a damp towel or a mop is also recommended. This method is even more effective than using a vacuum or dust-wiping towel, which could cause the pollen to spread even further. 

Carefully choose what to wear during Kafunsho season: Clothes made from fine cotton and synthetic fabrics would be your best allies during this period since pollen is less likely to be stuck on them. However, since pollen is still likely to be stuck onto your clothes, it is still recommended to change clothes, or even better, take a shower right after returning home. 

Not hanging your clothes, mattresses, and blankets outside: To prevent pollen from sticking onto your clothes, blankets, and mattresses, it is better to dry them indoors or use a dryer.

Using an air purifier: Even when you are just staying home and not going out at all, there is still a chance that you might come in contact with pollen, which happens when you open your door and windows, or turn on your air conditioner. Though not a lot, it may still cause discomfort to those who are sensitive to pollen. In this case, an air purifier is highly recommended. 

IV. How to treat hay fever in Japan:

1. Get a prescription for a pollen allergy treatment at a medical clinic: If you experience severe symptoms of a pollen allergy, you can go to a medical clinic in Japan for a checkup. There you can also ask your doctor to prescribe medication for you.

*Some clinic recommendations: 

  • 耳鼻咽喉科 (jibinkouka) or 耳鼻科 (jibika) are specialized ENT clinics to diagnose and treat symptoms of nasopharyngitis such as sneezing, stuffy nose, and sore throat.
  • 眼科 (ganka) are ophthalmology clinics. This is where you should go if you have symptoms of an allergic reaction in your eyes, which causes conjunctivitis, itchy eyes, red, watery eyes, and swollen eyes or eyelids.
  • 内科 (naika) are general clinics that can give medical treatment indications to treat flu symptoms or pollen allergies.
  • アレルギー科 (arerugii) are allergy clinics with doctors who are allergists certified by the Allergy Community of Japan.
  • 小児科 (shonika) are pediatric clinics that provide medical care for young children and where you can take your children if they start to have symptoms of a pollen allergy

2. Other at-home remedies to relieve symptoms of pollen allergies: These remedies do not directly cure pollen allergies and there is little scientific evidence to support their effectiveness. 

  • Use essential oils: Some essential oils like eucalyptus or peppermint oil can help clear your nasal passages and relieve stuffy noses.
  • Acupuncture: Regular weekly acupuncture treatments can ease symptoms of pollen allergies such as stuffy nose, sneezing, swollen eyes, or fatigue.
  • Probiotics: You can take probiotics to correct other health problems. 

3. Some over-the-counter drugs: 


  • Eyewash: 小林製薬 アイボン洗眼薬AL (Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Aibon Eyewash AL) or ロート製薬 アルガード目すっきり洗眼薬 (Rohto Allergy Guard Eyewash)
  • Eyedrops: ザジテンAL点眼薬 (Zaditen AL Eye Drops) 


  • Nasal spray/cleaning solution:  エージーノーズアレルカット (Ag Allergy Cut Nasal Spray), 小林製薬ハナノアa (Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Hananoa)
  • Cough drops: ライオン花粉プラス鼻のど飴 (Lion Kafun Plus Nose Throat Candy) or カンロノンシュガースーパーメントールのど飴 (Kanro Non-sugar Super Menthol Nose Throat Candy)

However, make sure to go get yourselves checked at the hospitals or clinics if your condition does not seem to get any better after a few days. 

In the above article, GoEMON has guided you through some of the ways to help combat the horrible hay fever season in Japan. We hope that the article will provide you with the necessary tips to protect you, as well as your loved ones, from hay fever! 

Feel free to share with us in the comments down below if you guys have any other tips that you would like to share! 

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