Anyone have tips for travel to Japan - Peanut Allergy Information

Anyone have tips for travel to Japan

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We'll be traveling to Japan in a couple of months, but I wanted to get a headstart on gathering information regarding traveling with a PA 2-year old.

Neither my husband nor I speak, read, or understand any Japanese so I'm not sure how we'll be able to figure out what's safe for my DD.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has experience traveling to, or better yet, living in Japan.


[This message has been edited by adc (edited November 06, 2003).]

On Nov 6, 2003


I lived in Japan many moons ago for a year (Yamagata-ken). Of course, I wasn't dealing with PA back then. I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have as best I can.

There is also mae on the boards who lived in Japan too. I'm sure she could be of better help than I.

Maybe if you could post your specific questions, it may be easier to answer...

Peanuts are not a staple of Japanese food. You should be able to get by quite well (as opposed to having a fish allergy --then you'd have a big problem). Miso, which is a bean curd paste, is prevalent in everything (I mention this in case you avoid all legumes).

Where in Japan will you be?

On Nov 6, 2003

Hi arachide (or konichiwa)!

Thanks for posting a reply!

We'll be in Japan for about two weeks and I believe we're planning on staying in Tokyo. Here in the U.S., people often look at me like I'm speaking a foreign language when I try to explain the peanut thing; I can't imagine how difficult it'll be when I really am speaking a foreign language.

You've already answered one of my questions when you stated that peanuts were not a staple of Japanese food. I was a little concerned because I know there are shoyu peanut crackers in many Japanese stores.

DD tested positive for soy on her skin test, but since she had been eating soybeans without any reaction, her allergist said to continue to feed it to her.

I had read a previous post that said that ambulances in many cities don't carry medical equipment or medication. If that's true, I'll have to bring several epi-pens with me, just in case.

How many epi-pens do people usually travel with?

If DD has a reaction, is there a 911 equivalent? Maybe I should have a card written in Japanese that explains her allergy and that requests emergency medical treatment.

Do you know if McDonald's is considered safe there? I know how silly it seems to go to a foreign country and eat at McDonald's, but with a 2-year old you do what you have to do

On Nov 6, 2003


Originally posted by adc: [b]

We'll be in Japan for about two weeks and I believe we're planning on staying in Tokyo.[/b]

Tokyo is ultra-modern, ultra cosmopolitain. Many in the city speak English and you will find many American products (food and otherwise) available there. There is an American hospital in Tokyo. The name escapes me right now, St. Luke's? (I was there nearly 10 years ago...) I'll try getting the name for you. I would make sure I had the name of the hospital and its address with me when I was there.


[b] You've already answered one of my questions when you stated that peanuts were not a staple of Japanese food.


Piinatsu (the Japanese name for peanut) is around in Japan --just not all over the place as say in Thailand. Soy, of course, is another matter. Make sure you bring a card with you that has the words for peanut and soy in hirigana, kanji, and katakana. While you're at it, you should probably have some key phrases too in case of allergic mishaps. Perhaps contact your nearest Japanese embassy for assistance, or a Japanese language teacher at a university.


[b] How many epi-pens do people usually travel with?


You'll need papers from your doctor, I'm sure. You'll also have to inquire about getting the epipens passed through Japanese customs (again a Japanese embassy can assist you here). The rule of thumb is to have enough epipens for every 15 minutes it would take you to get to a hospital.


[b] If DD has a reaction, is there a 911 equivalent?


Yes there is. Can't remember the number, but it's listed on phones and phonebooks everywhere. Make sure you have an emergency translation card with you.


[b] Maybe I should have a card written in Japanese that explains her allergy and that requests emergency medical treatment.


Oops, I already said that above...


[b] Do you know if McDonald's is considered safe there?


There was a McDonald's in the small town I was in. They had the same menu as in North America with some Japanese speciality items too. The Big Macs I ordered were made with beef imported from McDonald's USA. I'm not sure about the buns, sauces, fries, etc... but I think they were imported too.

Are you staying at a hotel?

On Nov 7, 2003

Hi adc - I can offer some info in the next day or two - we have a SIL having a baby in the next few hours and a busy work schedule .. but i will pop back in ASAP [img][/img]

Soy might be a problem as soy or "shoyu" is in most sauces - and is a staple in Japan Not many "nut" dishes, but more problems with trying to explain/ask... mae

On Nov 10, 2003

adc - arachide did a great job answering your questions - I'd have to agree with everything there. We also weren't dealing with PA when we lived there, but I went out with a friend who was vegetarian - and when she tried to explain that she didn't eat meat ( she would even say she was allergic" - she often found meat in her meals at restaurant - so she preferred to do her own cooking.

I think the carrying a card explaining the allergy in hiragana, katakana and kanji is a great idea - maybe even a doctors letter explaining the allergy and instructions for medical personell. I'd definitely take a card explaining the allergy to restaurants. We ate at McDonalds ( same fare and other items - like Beef Curry!) - and even "Denny's". There were some American- chain pizza restaurants around too. I've heard that Subway is popular, too.

Tokyo is one of the best places to be - in terms of finding imported ( from the US) food - we found a few supermarkets that carried a good variety of food that we were familiar with. There was one we went to in the "Motomachi" area in Yokohama - a few train stops from Yokohama Station. If I think of anything else, I'll post later [img][/img] Good luck - when do you leave?

On Nov 11, 2003

arachide and mae - thanks so much for all your help! I'm beginning to feel more comfortable--especially if there's an American hospital and markets where we'd be able to find familiar items.

Our dates haven't been finalized yet, but we should be traveling either in late February or early March. We'll definitely be staying in a hotel, although, I can't say that I've done much research. I'll most likely try to find an American chain like a Hilton--again, just to make things easier.

Before dealing with PA, I would've avoided anything American while traveling; now, I feel like the ugly American who goes to foreign countries and thinks everyone should speak English. Oh well, we'll do whatever's necessary to keep DD safe.

mae, congrats to your family on the new baby!

On Nov 11, 2003

adc -when we were in between housing, we got a small - i mean "tiny" (10 square meters) apartment called "Family House" through a rental company. It was $1800/month,( 10 years ago) but came with a futon, clothes rack (because in 10 sq meters, theres no room for a closet! [img][/img] ), telephone, microwave, small fridge, toaster oven and a handy-dandy one burner stove (no oven) - a few plates, cutlery and pots, too. It was expensive, but we didn't need to pay key money or buy any appliances. A lot of business people were using these apartments for 1-2 month stays. We were in Yokohama near Idogaya Station.

If you want more info, let me know! [img][/img]

My new neice arrived safely after 52 hours of labour - almost beat my record of 56 hours! [img][/img]

On Nov 13, 2003

Hello! My in-laws live in Japan. My mother-in-law is Japanese. We went to visit them in 2000 when I was pregnant, so we weren't yet dealing with PA yet either. From what I remember what we avoid over here is what you would avoid over there. Pastries obviously. I don't remember being struck as they use a lot of peanuts/nuts in their dishes. In fact, check with FAAN. I swear I read in a FAAN newsletter it said Japan installed strict laws on food labeling especially for peanut. If you have any specific questions, I can always e-mail them to my mother-in-law and she can try to find out some answers for you before you go. They keep wanting us to visit them again and bring dd. I would love to someday, but she just turned 3 and a 13 hour plane ride would not be good for her, for us, or the poor other 300 passengers!! =) I hope you have a great time, it is so beautiful!! =) kcmom

On Nov 14, 2003

mae-thanks, we'll have to think about the "Family House" option. It sounds nice, except that we wouldn't have a concierge available to help us or room service if we were too tired to cook or go out. [img][/img]

[img][/img] Ouch--52 and 56 hours of labour!

kcmom-thanks for your reply as well. I'll definitely check with FAAN about the Japanese labeling. Do you think you could ask your MIL if she's ever seen a peanut warning on products?

Our dd will be 2 1/2 when we go. We are REALLY concerned with how she'll do on the flight. For the past several months, she has refused to go on any amusement park rides, no matter how small or slow. This includes the tram at Disneyland that takes you from the parking lot to the park. Hopefully, it's a phase she'll grow out of in 3 months.