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Quickies on bringing in psychotropics and bags, calling Japan, buying shoes

by Louise George Kittaka

A variety of queries from readers have arrived at Lifelines over the last few weeks, so we’ll address some of them in this column.

• JL will be coming to Japan in the fall and wants to bring in several types of prescription psychotropic medication. (Common psychotropic drugs include antipsychotics, antidepressants, ADHD drugs, anti-anxiety medications and mood stabilizers.)

“Can I bring them into Japan?” JL asks. “The amount of medication that I will be bringing will be less than the maximum allowed. So do I need to apply for the yakkan shōmei?”

The yakkan shōmei is an import certificate required for bringing medicines into Japan. However, since this reader is only visiting for six days, a spokesperson for the Kanto-Shinetsu Regional Bureau of Health and Welfare said there is no need to fill one in. However, he noted that certain psychotropics, while legal overseas, are not allowed in Japan.

To be on the safe side, JL can visit kouseikyoku.mhlw.go.jp/kantoshinetsu/index.html and click on the “Procedures of bringing medicines into Japan” link to download a detailed Q&A document about bringing in medication.

If you have further questions, you can mail your inquiries in English to yakkan-shomei@mhlw.go.jp.

For more on this subject, please check out this Lifelines column from last year: bit.ly/15bIZlS.

• Kara is also coming to Japan soon. She has a leather purse that she purchased overseas and wants to know if it will be subject to tax when she arrives.

No, rest assured that Japanese Customs won’t hit you up again — unless they find out it’s made from sea turtle or some other protected species.

• Next is Beverley from the U.S., whose son and his family are based in Japan. His cellphone carrier is Softbank.

“After much Googling, I cannot find anywhere whether or not they have to pay for calls from the U.S. I know we have to pay, which is fine, but I don’t want them to have to pay to receive our calls.”

Softbank customers do not have to pay for incoming overseas calls, so Beverley should feel free to call as much as she wants, knowing that it will not cost her son a single yen.

• Finally, a sequel to the last column on shoes for the larger foot: Chika Washer in Sapporo contacted Lifelines about her local women’s shoe store, Seven And A Half. Located in the city’s Chuo Ward, the shop caters for women from size 25 to 27 cm, and English is not a problem. See www.seven-and-a-half.com.

Kiwi Louise George Kittaka has been based in Japan since she was 20. In the ensuing years she has survived PTA duty for three kids in the Japanese education system and singing live on NHK’s “Nodo Jiman” show, among other things. Send comments and questions to lifelines@japantimes.co.jp.