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Summer in Japan is undeniably a hot and sticky affair. With the lack of blustery air-conditioning, staying and smelling fresh becomes quite the challenge. By reputation a land synonymous with cleanliness, many foreigners are surprised at the limited selection when buying deodorant in Japan.
Could it be that Japanese people perspire less and smell less than foreigners?
A quick survey amongst Japanese friends reveals that preventing body odour does not seem to be a vital part of the Japanese body care regime. The focus is instead on cleaning up well. It seems that Japanese people accept that everyone perspires and will smell on occasion. However, they are confident that everyone is respectful enough to clean up as soon as they can. As such, deodorant body wipes, are commonly used by the Japanese during the humid months to stay fresh.
When buying deodorant in Japan you will notice that the limited selection of sticks, sprays and roll-ons sit alongside packets of deodorant body wipes.
These body wipes are conveniently available at drugstores, by the checkout at the supermarket and convenience stores. Those marked with ‘Ag+’ look more promising then their floral and fruity neighbours. There are ones targeted at women but larger sheets in manly packaging made for the man on the move. Surely are these pretty packets the Japanese substitute for the reliable stick of deodorant?
When buying deodorant in Japan, do not despair if these wipes have you unconvinced as there are more traditional options available in drug stores. Deodorant is デオドラント (deodoranto) and anti-perspirant is 汗ブロック/抗発汗 (ase burokku). It is also useful to know that 薬用 (yakuyo) on the product means that it is medicated. If the local selection does not satisfy, international brands can be found at a premium in international supermarkets, on Amazon Japan and the American Pharmacy in Marunouchi. Perhaps this may be the summer to try something new! As the saying goes, when in Rome….