If your only resource for Japanese is Google Translate, you’ll be saying “condomu” until you are blue in the balls. The slang word for condom is “gomu” in Japanese. “Gomu” means “rubber’ (just like our slang in English) and if a friend or shop attendant doesn’t understand “condom”, they’ll certainly understand when you say “gomu”. So with these words in hand, proceed to the locations below.
If you are not intoxicated and stumbling into a love hotel, I’d suggest doing yourself a favor, save money, and plan a little bit ahead of time. With 24 hour free delivery, you can easily have condoms delivered to your house/hotel/hostel. This is much cheaper (and time efficient) in comparison to searching around the city.
Of the Japan brands, Okamoto is one of the best, but you’ll be safe with all of them. If you need to find larger (or smaller) size condoms in Tokyo, check out Okamaoto’s Mega Boy (Biggest), Big Boy (Bigger) or Smart Guy (Smallest).
There’s a crocodile as well, but it’s a bit obscene to post online.
Of course, we know full well that many of us night owls do not plan ahead (and end up with things called babies), so please proceed below.
The word for medicine is kusuri/薬 in Japanese. Medicine shops (pharmacies) will always have condoms. This is a very useful kanji in case of actual sickness as well. Pharmacies look like this:
And if for some reason you don’t have the kanji for medicine (薬), just look for drugs. The Japanese do not find this as funny as I do:
Once inside, you will find the condoms in the packaging below (if in doubt, look for .01 or .02- this is condom thickness):
If you are too embarrassed to say “gomu”/”condumu” just show the attendant the above picture.
Or, if looking for a larger sizes, keep your eye out for the previously pictured animals (they almost always have the diameter sizes on the box even if there are no animal pictures to guide you). Keep in mind that the standard size in Japan is a bit smaller than the standard size in the West. While some pharmacies are open late, many will close by 9 pm and are usually not open on Sunday.
Convenience Stores and Don Quixote
The nefarious “conbini” usually has a box or two. These will be at a higher price than the pharmacy, but this is your best option when you are in a pinch. 7-11 and Family Mart both have them in stock.
If you are in Shibuya, Roppongi, or Shinjuku, look no further than Don Quixote. It’s a massive multi-floor department store but they also have a range of sizes and the best prices (unlike convenience store’s small selection).
Speciality Stores and Sex Shops
If you want your condom search to be a part of the “Tokyo Experience”, I recommend heading to Harajuku, Shinjuku, Shibuya, and/or Akihabara.
Harajuku is home to Condomania. While not as kindly priced as the other options available, they have some hilarious condom gag gifts as well.
In Shinjuku, aim for Kabukicho. Signs within the station will guide you there. If your feeling more adventurous: congratulations, you are also in the love hotel, hostess club, and debauchery capital of Tokyo. Proceed to the sex shops.
In Shibuya, look near Dogenzaka (Love Hotel Hill).
And finally, in Akihabara, you can try your luck with the epic 7 story sex shop called “M’s”. Be careful not to get lost in there (and you must be at least 18 to enter).
And that’s a wrap. I hope you enjoyed the puns, and if you read all this and don’t have a partner to engage in the search/activity with, I’d highly suggest you land yourself a copy of the revised version of “Making Out in Japanese” (as of 2014) for some great conversational banter.
Should you be a single guy, we’d also recommend purchasing Japanese Women: The Guide (25% off discount code: tokyonightowl).
Please feel free to post addresses, tips, or sexual innuendo in the comments below.