Why do the Japanese keep their medicines in the kitchen?

… along with plasters and such-like. “Is a Band Aid food??” is the question I keep asking my wife and asked my students when we had this discussion, which in fact started with their question “Why do the British and Americans keep medicines in the bathroom?”

My wife’s explanation is that bathrooms in Japan (and here in Korea) tend to get very steamy and mouldy. Most bathrooms I’ve had in both countries have also not had a conveniently sized cabinet to put them in, maybe for the same reason. The only explanation I could come up with for us Brits putting it in the bathroom is that taking medicine is a private thing that you want to do with the door locked. Anyone know what less privacy obsessed Westerners like the Spanish and Italians do?

There could also be more of a connection between food and medicine in East Asia, most clearly seen in China with its medicinal wines, soups for different disorders etc. Think the practical factors above are probably more important though.



  1. Miquel Adell said,

    February 20, 2010 at 8:00 am

    Most of the spanniards keep their medicines in the bathroom to.
    My explanation about “why the bathroom” is that there are some ointments are better applied somwhere clean and with running water close.

    I hope there is a centuries old mystic explanation to why the kitchen or the bathroom, mine is not too interesting.

  2. crella said,

    February 20, 2010 at 10:47 am

    I don’t know, I keep mine (when I’m on anything) in the kitchen out of sheer laziness, as well as because of how things are prescribed–an ‘after meals three times a day’ antibiotic or what have you is easier to remember and take if it’s in the kitchen.

  3. crella said,

    February 20, 2010 at 10:49 am

    my Band-aids are in the kitchen in case I cut myself cooking, or doing yard work, it’s much closer than the bathroom.

    Now that you say that though, we do keep ointments in the bathroom.

  4. マイケル said,

    March 4, 2010 at 2:49 am

    Ha! We’ve always kept most of our medicine in the kitchen.. though we do keep some things like band aids and disinfectant in the bathroom.

  5. Mark Fox said,

    April 25, 2010 at 6:30 am

    The bathroom is the last place to keep medicines if you want them to be fully effective. I think the kitchen tends to warm up as well so I keep my meds in the pantry.

  6. Hatfax said,

    August 30, 2010 at 7:44 am

    Have ours in the kitchen, a lot of medicine should be taken with a meal or a drink, don’t tend to keep food in our bathroom, or really drink the tap water there either, as the bathroom water is stored in a tank as I imagine a lot of houses are still plumbed the old way.

  7. elyse said,

    May 27, 2015 at 1:34 am

    Most of ours are in the bathroom too for the same reasons that Miquel wrote.
    Perhaps a cultural difference has to do with whether most of the medicine that is used is topical or taken orally. Bandages, pain and antibacterial ointments, ect. make more sense in a bathroom where it is easier to clean wounds before applying. Pills and medicinal plants/teas make more sense in the kitchen where you consume other things. But it’s also nice to have all your medical things together in one place so most people put everything in the same location as the items they use the most.

  8. Mateusz said,

    December 7, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    As far as i we keep medicine in the kitchen because it’s the place where most accidents at home happen.

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