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Eve = Ibuprofen in Japan?

The Japanese are fond of twisting English words to the point where native English speakers can no longer recognize them. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I went to the drug store, after getting my first headache in Japan, looking for Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen) to find this.

It turns out there is no Advil or Motrin in Japan (unless you have military base privileges). I went through drug after drug on the shelves looking for ibuprofen written in katakana. However, I kept skipping over this obviously female product called Eve thinking it probably should be on the shelf next to tampons or something.

Finally, I looked closer at it and found Eve to be ibuprofen after all! So how does ibuprofen get translated into “Eve” you ask? First, the Japanese like to abbreviate things. “Convienence store” becomes “konbini”, “personal computer” becomes “pasokon”, etc.

For ibuprofen, they took the first three English letters and turned them straight into katakana ibu “イブ” even though the sound is completely different (an i or イ sounds like a long e sound, not like “I” which would be written as ai or アイ). Well, イブ is already a word in Japanese, it’s Eve, as in Christmas Eve, so the name stuck.

The other different thing about ibuprofen in Japan is you can’t buy it straight. It comes mixed with caffeine and アリルイソプロピルアセチル尿素. I’m not sure what this last item is, but it seemed to make ibuprofen work better for me than it does in the typical Advil and Motrin.

4 Responses to “Eve = Ibuprofen in Japan?”

  1. 1

    Yeah, We tend to abbreviate the words, just like “Loud Park” becomes “laupa” ,even the name of the artist;“Spiritual Beggars” becomes “supibega”.lol

  2. 2

    adachin: And how is First Kitchin abbreviated? 😉

    I guess the Japanese pronounciation for ibuprofen is based on the German pronounciation more than on the English pronounciation.
    But that abbreviation surely is misleading, I guess I also wouldn’t have found it. 🙂

  3. 3

    アリルイソプロピルアセチル尿素 is Allylisopropylacetylurea (also known as Apronal). It’s used to treat mild forms of pain, and also as a fever reducer.

  4. 4

    Thank You! for this post. I had a gout attack in Japan and was very distressed when I couldn’t get Motrin in the conbini. The photos especially helped the clerk at the kusuriya understand what I was looking for.

    It is weird to be able to buy tobacco and alcohol from a vending machine but not be able to buy an aspirin at a convenience store.

    Thanks again, especially for the photo of the label!