While everyone is ramping up for cherry blossom season in Japan, I’m dreading itchy eyes and uncontrollable sneezing. Hay fever season—a.k.a. seasonal allergies—is upon us already. Thanks to the gift that keeps on giving—a.k.a. climate change—early starts for hay fever in Japan have become the norm.
With roughly 25% of the population suffering from hay fever, this means that a quarter of the country is already out for the count with sore throats and awful headaches. Now that the coronavirus is a thing in Japan, coughing or sneezing on a crowded train looks super suspect. As people give you the side-eye, you may find yourself wanting to proclaim, “I promise I don’t have the virus, just allergies!”
If you find yourself legitimately wondering whether gouging out your own eyes with a spoon might offer some relief, put down that utensil and check out these Japanese hacks for soothing symptoms of a borderline epidemic. Necessity is the mother of invention, after all.
1. Buy pollen protection glasses
You can buy special pollen protection glasses, known as kafun megane (花粉メガネ) in Japanese, from as little as ¥100 from cheap stores like Daiso. They are kind of goofy and look a bit like the safety goggles I used to wear for science class but they do work. The solid plastic sits against your eyes and protects any pollen particles in the air from getting behind the lenses. Wearing kafun megane also stops you from rubbing your eyes if they are itchy—one of the worst things you can do if you have hay fever. I repeat. DO. NOT. RUB.
2. Wear a PM 2.5-protective mask
Since pollen particles are a bit bigger than viruses or bacteria, masks can actually help to stop you from breathing them in. The PM 2.5-type masks (PM2.5 超快適マスク) are known to be especially good for pollen and can be picked up at a regular drug store like Tomods or Matsumoto Kiyoshi. “PM” stands for particulate matter and this 2.5 type is generally recommended by health organizations for those living in cities like Beijing, where levels of pollution regularly reach beyond indexable levels. Pollen. Pollution. Basically, two things you don’t want to be breathing in too much. Plus, a mask also helps with other things like not having to interact with people face to face when you want to scratch your throat with a chainsaw.
3. Get prescription antihistamines
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