Buy Nootropics in Japan | The #1 A-Z Guide

Curious about buying nootropics in Japan? If so, you’ve come to the perfect place.

This guide will explain everything you need to know about buying and using nootropics in the Land of the Rising Sun.

You’ll learn:

  • The most effective natural and synthetic nootropics to try
  • Their safety and potential side-effects
  • The legal status of nootropics in Japan
  • Where to buy nootropics for the best prices
  • And more!

P.S: Here’s my top 100% legal recommendation!

Whether you want to work or study more productively, boost your memory, or enhance your creativity, this guide will help you get you where you want to go.

This is not medical or legal advice. This guide is strictly for entertainment purposes only. Always consult a medical professional before consuming any nootropic and always abide by the laws of your country. Please read my disclaimer page, too.

What are Nootropics?

The first synthetic nootropic – Piracetam – was discovered in 1964 by a Romanian psychologist and chemist called Dr. Corneliu Giurgea. Dr. Giurgea observed Piracetam’s positive effect on memory and decided to create a new word to describe substances with similar cognitive enhancing properties. The term ‘nootropic’ is derived from the Greek words ‘nous’ (‘mind’) and ‘trepein’ (‘to bend’) [1].

According to Dr. Giurgea’s original definition, a nootropic is any substance that can:

  • Enhance memory, attention span, concentration, and the ability to learn.
  • Help the brain function under distress.
  • Protect the brain from chemical and physical stress.
  • Increase the efficacy of neuronal firing.
  • Produce virtually zero side effects and be non-toxic.

This definition applies to both synthetic substances, such as Piracetam, and naturally-occurring substances, like caffeine.

Natural Nootropics

Natural nootropics are substances that come from plants or plant extracts, amino acids, or other nutrients sourced from nature.

Some of the most popular natural nootropics are:

  • Lion’s Mane Mushroom, (Yamabushitake), which has been shown to improve mood and protect against cognitive impairment [2].
  • Maritime Pine Bark Extract, which has been shown to improve spatial memory [3].
  • Caffeine, a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that helps improve attention span and information retention [4].
  • Ginkgo biloba, which comes from the Chinese maidenhair tree and has been shown to prevent dementia and improve working memory [5].
  • Creatine, an amino acid that has been shown to improve cognition on mental tasks [6].

Synthetic Nootropics

Synthetic nootropics, like Piracetam, are man-made substances that offer cognitive benefits when used ‘off-label’ — outside of their intended medical use — by healthy individuals.

Some of the most popular synthetic nootropics are:

  • Piracetam, which helps improve brain metabolism, learning, working memory, and recall [7].
  • Ritalin (Methylphenidate), a stimulant that boosts attention span, short-term memory, and information-processing speed [8].
  • Adderall, (a combination of racemic amphetamine and dextroamphetamine), that helps improve concentration [9].
  • Modafinil, a ‘eugeroic’ ( or wakefulness-promoting agent) that helps improve emotion recognition and task-related motivation [10].

Mind Lab Pro vs Armodafinil

Nootropics Side Effects and Safety

Alongside numerous cognitive benefits, nootropics may produce unwanted side-effects that you should be aware of.

While this is rare, especially with the products recommended below, it’s important to understand any and all safety risks.

Natural Nootropics Side Effects

Naturally-occurring substances like Yamabushitake, Pine Bark Extract, caffeine, Ginkgo biloba, and creatine, are the safest known nootropics.

They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, and are freely available throughout Japan as over-the-counter dietary supplements.

These nootropics are generally regarded as safe and non-toxic when taken at the recommended doses, however, how you respond to them will depend on a host of factors including your current state of health and genetic factors.

If you are currently taking any prescription drugs, we advise you to always read the ‘prescription drug interactions’ of any nootropic before taking it. Caffeine, for example, interacts adversely with several prescription medicines [11], while Ginkgo biloba can increase the risk of bleeding when taken with certain herbal medications, antiplatelet agents, or warfarin [12].

Some natural nootropics can produce serious side effects when taken in excessive quantities, so you should always monitor your dosage carefully. Caffeine, for instance, can cause anxiety, hallucinations, and even dizziness when consumed in high amounts [13].

Synthetic Nootropics Side Effects

In general, synthetic nootropics produce more pronounced side-effects than natural nootropics, but they are still mild and shouldn’t give you cause for concern. Most side-effects are extensions of the drug’s pharmacological effects and subside quickly, causing no lasting damage.

The safest known synthetic nootropics are Piracetam, Aniracetam, and other racetams. Studies have shown that racetams possess very low toxicity and produce no serious side effects in healthy individuals [14].

The side-effects and safety of other synthetic nootropics like Ritalin, Adderall, and Modafinil are less well known. These drugs have been well researched for their intended medical use but there is little published research into their side effects and safety when used ‘off-prescription’ as nootropics.

For example, one of the most popular synthetic nootropics – Modafinil – is a prescription medication for narcolepsy, a brain disorder that causes the sufferer to suddenly fall asleep at inappropriate times. Modafinil has been well-researched for this use and is considered to be a safe drug when taken under medical supervision. But there has been limited research into Modafinil’s side-effects and safety when taken ‘off-prescription’ as a nootropic by people who don’t suffer from narcolepsy.

One study found that when Modafinil was administered to patients who had been incorrectly diagnosed with narcolepsy, it caused several unexpected side effects [15], including:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Lumbago
  • Diarrhea
  • Dyspepsia
  • Rhinitis
  • Vertigo

Fortunately, these side effects were mild and subsided within 24 hours.

Furthermore, many Modafinil users experience NO side effects whatsoever. This is one of the reasons the product has become the most popular nootropic in the world.

The nootropic Phenibut, which is prescribed in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Latvia to treat anxiety, insomnia, and depression, has several documented side effects [16].

These include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach cramps

A particular concern with Phenibut is that it is a potentially addictive substance [17]. One study found that patients who took Phenibut to help with substance use disorder experienced severe withdrawal symptoms when they stopped using the drug [18]. Therefore it is recommended to limit Phenibut intake to less than 500mg per dose and not more than 4,000mg per fortnight.

Overall, the nootropics on this list are safe and produce minimal side effects when taken at the recommended dosages.

Are Nootropics Legal in Japan?

In Japan, many popular natural nootropics are legal and can be purchased online or over-the-counter as ‘dietary supplements’.

These include:

  • Caffeine
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Creatine
  • Yamabushitake
  • Pine Bark Extract
  • CDP-Choline (Citicoline)

However, Japan restricts access to many nootropics that are sold as over-the-counter supplements in some other countries. These include Sulbutiamine, Vinpocetine, and Piracetam, which are all prescription medications in Japan.

Japan classifies almost all synthetic nootropics as prescription drugs and regulates their sale very strictly. The only way to legally obtain these drugs is from a pharmacy if they have been prescribed to you by a doctor to treat a relevant medical condition. The sale and possession of prescription medicines without a valid prescription such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Modafinil is strictly prohibited.

If you aren’t from Japan and are visiting or living in the country as an expat, you can bring one month’s supply of most prescription medication provided that it is for your personal use and is not a prohibited or controlled drug in Japan.

All stimulant drugs like amphetamines, methamphetamines, and certain medicines for the treatment of ADD/ADHD such as Adderall are illegal to bring into Japan. You face prosecution if they are found in your possession, even if you have a foreign prescription.

Given the difficulties of obtaining synthetic nootropics in Japan, the most common route is to buy them online. This is incredibly risky and not recommended. Japan monitors and screens mail from all countries. There have been several reported arrests of people attempting to import prescription medicines for personal use.

However, our recommended nootropics vendor guarantees all shipments to Japan and offers a free reshipment or a full refund if an order doesn’t get through.

But again, this isn’t recommended and we advise you to abide by Japanese laws at all times.

Mind Lab Pro Smart Drug

Top 2 Legal Nootropics in Japan

With synthetic nootropics so difficult to obtain, many Japanese people and people living in Japan use legal nootropics instead.

The top two legal nootropics we recommend are:

  • Mind Lab Pro

Mind Lab Pro is the most effective over-the-counter nootropic we’ve ever reviewed and is our top pick for anyone in Japan who is looking for a safe, legal, reliable, nootropic. It’s the closest thing to an ‘all-in-one’ solution to cognitive optimization that we’ve ever tested. It contains a unique blend of 11 different natural nootropics that work in synergy to deliver a massive boost to concentration, focus, creativity, and productivity!

The 11 research-backed nootropics in Mind Lab Pro are:

  • Maritime Pine Bark Extract
  • Organic Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Yamabushitake)
  • Bacopa monnieri, which boosts cognition and decreases choice reaction times [19].
  • Citicoline, which has strong neuroprotective properties [20].
  • L-Tyrosine, which boosts motivation and mental performance [21].
  • Phosphatidylserine (PS), a proven memory-boosting nootropic.
  • L-Theanine, which helps with creativity.
  • Rhodiola Rosea, to boost mental energy.
  • B6, B9, and B12, to promote blood flow to the brain.

We found that Mind Lab Pro gave us a huge increase in alertness and overall well-being and a surge of energy that lasted for over eight hours. We enjoyed lower anxiety and sharper mental performance with better short-term memory and recall.

If you want to light your brain up like “Christmas tree” in some respects, the Mind Lab Pro is one of the best natural cognitive enhancers to try.

  • Qualia Mind

The other natural nootropic we recommend is a cognitive enhancer called Qualia Mind.

Taking Qualia is simple: you take the first three pills in the morning and then six more later on in the day. We found that this schedule kept us energized for the entire day. There were no peaks or downtime – just a long stream of cool, calm, focused energy that helped us power through our work without any fatigue!

Our favorite aspect of Qualia Mind is that it’s caffeine-free so we didn’t experience any common caffeine side-effects like feeling jittery or ‘wired’. Instead, we were able to easily focus on work just transition to other activities like mediation when we wanted to. We also got a ton more creativity, which helped us power through our workload.

So, what makes Qualia Mind so effective?

It contains a unique blend of 21 natural nootropics, including:

  • Bacopa Monnieri, which helps increase reaction times and reduce anxiety [22].
  • Citicoline, which helps boost memory and recall [23].
  • Huperzine A, which has strong neuroprotective properties [24].
  • Phosphatidylserine, which can help with cognitive functioning [25].
  • Ginkgo biloba, which has been shown to improve short term recall and memory [26].

If you’re looking for a natural nootropic that will give you an instant boost with zero side effects, Qualia Mind is one of the best options on the market right now.

The World’s Best Nootropic…

Modafinil is a prescription medicine for treating narcolepsy and similar sleep-related disorders. It prevents narcolepsy sufferers from falling asleep during the day, or at inconvenient times. But when it is taken by non-sufferers, Modafinil acts as a powerful stimulant and has earned itself the reputation of being the world’s best nootropic!

A single 100-200mg dose of Modafinil can:

  • Dramatically increase attentiveness.
  • Boost concentration.
  • Enhance alertness [27].
  • Improve learning.
  • Optimize working memory [28].

So how does Modafinil work?

Modafinil works by elevating histamine levels in the hypothalamus region of the brain [29]. This increases wakefulness and prevents you from feeling sleepy [30]. Modafinil also binds to your brain’s dopamine transporter and inhibits the reuptake of dopamine [31], which increases the amount of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in your prefrontal cortex and significantly improves your working and episodic memory [32].

Modafinil is extremely helpful if you are ever feeling stressed, anxious, or worried and need to work more productively. It reduces reactivity to fear stimuli in the brain region involved in anxiety, (the amygdala) [33], and lets you think more clearly even if you are under a lot of pressure.

In short, Modafinil is the world’s best nootropic for cognitive enhancement for one simple reason:

Nothing else comes close.

Is Modafinil Legal in Japan?

Modafinil in Japan is an interesting topic.

Unfortunately, Modafinil is a Schedule I psychotropic drug in Japan and its sale and use are highly restricted. The only way to legally obtain it is to have it prescribed to you by a doctor.

For this to happen, you must be diagnosed with a sleep-related disorder such as:

  • Narcolepsy
  • Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWSD)
  • Obstructive sleep apnoea hypopnoea syndrome (OSAHS)

With a valid prescription, you can obtain Modafinil from Japanese pharmacies, where it is sold under the brand name ‘Modiodal’.

If you aren’t from Japan and are visiting or living in the country as an expat, you can bring one month’s supply of Modafinil provided that it is for your own personal use. You must keep the tablets in their original pharmacy packaging and have a letter from a doctor in your home country or a prescription stating your full name and the reason you are taking Modafinil.

Ordering Modafinil online and having it shipped to you is extremely risky and not recommended. All mail originating from countries where suppliers typically ship from (such as India and Singapore) is closely monitored and strictly screened.

While there have been cases of people being imprisoned in Japan for importing Modafinil, these cases have involved large quantities far exceeding personal supply. Small shipments of one month’s worth (30 tablets) are fine and we’ve yet to hear of anyone having an issue with this.

Our recommended Modafinil vendor guarantees all shipments to Japan and even offers a free reshipment or a full refund if the order doesn’t get through. The catch? You can only order 100 tablets or less and you must pay in Bitcoin.

But this isn’t risk-free and we don’t recommend it.

This isn’t legal advice and we always encourage you to abide by Japanese laws.

Japan Modafinil

Top “Social” Nootropic

The top “social” nootropic in Japan is ‘Phenibut’, a synthetic central nervous system (CNS) depressant that lowers inhibitions and increases confidence. Phenibut is an analog of GABA, the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in your brain, and taking Phenibut is one of the best ways of boosting GABA.

A 250-500mg dose of Phenibut can lead to;

  • Enhanced sleep cycles
  • Improved blood pressure
  • Better well-being, mood, and clarity
  • Reduced stress levels
  • Increased working memory, verbal fluency, and alertness [34]

Phenibut has earned a reputation as ‘the happy pill’ for its alcohol-like effects on sociability. It helps you calm down, and gives you a nice warm ‘buzz’ while killing any feelings of nervousness or anxiety.

Phenibut has become a popular alternative to ‘pre-drinks’ before going for a night out as it makes you more outgoing without any of the side-effects of alcohol like drowsiness, slurred speech, or lack of awareness.

Phenibut offers a cool, calm feeling of euphoria that lasts for hours and is perfect for anyone trying to avoid alcohol for health reasons.

It’s become especially popular with fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders who want to avoid ethanol in alcoholic drinks, which has been shown to increase cortisol and lower levels of free testosterone [35].

Is Phenibut Legal in Japan?


Unlike other synthetic nootropics like Piracetam and Modafinil, Phenibut is not a controlled substance in Japan and there are currently no laws prohibiting its sale or use.

It is available online as a dietary supplement to promote relaxation and sleep.

Our recommended Phenibut vendor offers fast shipments to Japan and offers a free reshipment or a full refund in the highly unlikely event that an order doesn’t get through.

Phenibut is legal

Nootropics Japan | Verdict

If you were curious about buying nootropics in Japan, hopefully, this guide has answered all of your questions!

As you’ve learned, Japan has some of the strictest customs controls of any country in the world.

But it is still possible to get the nootropics you need safely and hassle-free if you know what you’re doing. Stick with the 100% legal options!

Click here to order the top legal nootropic available in Japan!


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  2. Mori K, Inatomi S, Ouchi K, Azumi Y, Tuchida T. Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytother Res. 2009;23(3):367-372. doi:10.1002/ptr.2634
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  7. Winnicka K, Tomasiak M, Bielawska A. Piracetam–an old drug with novel properties?. Acta Pol Pharm. 2005;62(5):405-409.
  8. Maier LJ, Liechti ME, Herzig F, Schaub MP. To dope or not to dope: neuroenhancement with prescription drugs and drugs of abuse among Swiss university students. PLoS One. 2013;8(11):e77967. Published 2013 Nov 13. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0077967
  9. Albertson TE, Chenoweth JA, Colby DK, Sutter ME. The Changing Drug Culture: Use and Misuse of Cognition-Enhancing Drugs. FP Essent. 2016;441:25-29.
  10. Brühl AB, d’Angelo C, Sahakian BJ. Neuroethical issues in cognitive enhancement: Modafinil as the example of a workplace drug?. Brain Neurosci Adv. 2019;3:2398212818816018. Published 2019 Feb 15. doi:10.1177/2398212818816018
  11. Carrillo JA, Benitez J. Clinically significant pharmacokinetic interactions between dietary caffeine and medications. Clin Pharmacokinet. 2000;39(2):127-153. doi:10.2165/00003088-200039020-00004
  12. Sierpina VS, Wollschlaeger B, Blumenthal M. Ginkgo biloba. Am Fam Physician. 2003;68(5):923-926.
  13. Wikoff D, Welsh BT, Henderson R, et al. Systematic review of the potential adverse effects of caffeine consumption in healthy adults, pregnant women, adolescents, and children. Food Chem Toxicol. 2017;109(Pt 1):585-648. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2017.04.002
  14. Gouliaev AH, Senning A. Piracetam and other structurally related nootropics. Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 1994;19(2):180-222. doi:10.1016/0165-0173(94)90011-6
  15. Lopes E, Pereira D, da Silva Behrens NS, et al. Cataplexy as a side effect of modafinil in a patient without narcolepsy. Sleep Sci. 2014;7(1):47-49. doi:10.1016/j.slsci.2014.07.015
  16. Lapin I. Phenibut (beta-phenyl-GABA): a tranquilizer and nootropic drug. CNS Drug Rev. 2001;7(4):471-481. doi:10.1111/j.1527-3458.2001.tb00211.x
  17. Zheng KH, Khan A, Espiridion ED. Phenibut Addiction in a Patient with Substance Use Disorder. Cureus. 2019;11(7):e5230. Published 2019 Jul 24. doi:10.7759/cureus.5230
  18. Ahuja T, Mgbako O, Katzman C, Grossman A. Phenibut (β-Phenyl-γ-aminobutyric Acid) Dependence and Management of Withdrawal: Emerging Nootropics of Abuse. Case Rep Psychiatry. 2018;2018:9864285. Published 2018 Apr 30. doi:10.1155/2018/9864285
  19. Kongkeaw C, Dilokthornsakul P, Thanarangsarit P, Limpeanchob N, Norman Scholfield C. Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on cognitive effects of Bacopa monnieri extract. J Ethnopharmacol. 2014;151(1):528-535. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.11.008
  20. Fond G, Micoulaud-Franchi JA, Brunel L, et al. Innovative mechanisms of action for pharmaceutical cognitive enhancement: A systematic review. Psychiatry Res. 2015;229(1-2):12-20. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2015.07.006
  21. Grieb P. Neuroprotective properties of citicoline: facts, doubts and unresolved issues. CNS Drugs. 2014;28(3):185-193. doi:10.1007/s40263-014-0144-8
  22. Sukumaran NP, Amalraj A, Gopi S. Neuropharmacological and cognitive effects of Bacopa monnieri (L.) Wettst – A review on its mechanistic aspects. Complement Ther Med. 2019;44:68-82. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2019.03.016
  23. Iulia C, Ruxandra T, Costin LB, Liliana-Mary V. Citicoline – a neuroprotector with proven effects on glaucomatous disease. Rom J Ophthalmol. 2017;61(3):152-158. doi:10.22336/rjo.2017.29
  24. Damar U, Gersner R, Johnstone JT, Schachter S, Rotenberg A. Huperzine A as a neuroprotective and antiepileptic drug: a review of preclinical research. Expert Rev Neurother. 2016;16(6):671-680. doi:10.1080/14737175.2016.1175303
  25. Glade MJ, Smith K. Phosphatidylserine and the human brain. Nutrition. 2015;31(6):781-786. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2014.10.014
  26. Tan MS, Yu JT, Tan CC, et al. Efficacy and adverse effects of ginkgo biloba for cognitive impairment and dementia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Alzheimers Dis. 2015;43(2):589-603. doi:10.3233/JAD-140837
  27. Iglseder B. Doping für das Gehirn [Doping for the brain]. Z Gerontol Geriatr. 2018;51(2):143-148. doi:10.1007/s00391-017-1351-y
  28. Battleday RM, Brem AK. Modafinil for cognitive neuroenhancement in healthy non-sleep-deprived subjects: A systematic review. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2015;25(11):1865-1881. doi:10.1016/j.euroneuro.2015.07.028
  29. Ishizuka T, Sakamoto Y, Sakurai T, Yamatodani A. Modafinil increases histamine release in the anterior hypothalamus of rats. Neurosci Lett. 2003;339(2):143-146. doi:10.1016/s0304-3940(03)00006-5
  30. Brown RE, Stevens DR, Haas HL. The physiology of brain histamine. Prog Neurobiol. 2001;63(6):637-672. doi:10.1016/s0301-0082(00)00039-3
  31. Zolkowska D, Jain R, Rothman RB, et al. Evidence for the involvement of dopamine transporters in behavioral stimulant effects of modafinil. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2009;329(2):738-746. doi:10.1124/jpet.108.146142
  32. Rasetti, R., Mattay, V. S., Stankevich, B., Skjei, K., Blasi, G., Sambataro, F., Arrillaga-Romany, I. C., Goldberg, T. E., Callicott, J. H., Apud, J. A., & Weinberger, D. R. (2010). Modulatory effects of modafinil on neural circuits regulating emotion and cognition. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 35(10), 2101–2109.
  33. Minzenberg MJ, Carter CS. Modafinil: a review of neurochemical actions and effects on cognition. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2008;33(7):1477-1502. doi:10.1038/sj.npp.1301534
  34. Owen DR, Wood DM, Archer JR, Dargan PI. Phenibut (4-amino-3-phenyl-butyric acid): Availability, prevalence of use, desired effects and acute toxicity. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2016;35(5):591-596. doi:10.1111/dar.12356
  35. Haugvad A, Haugvad L, Hamarsland H, Paulsen G. Ethanol does not delay muscle recovery but decreases testosterone/cortisol ratio. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014;46(11):2175-2183. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000000339


After utilizing nootropics for the better part of a decade, I realized the potent results these products produce -- with regards to productivity and cognitive enhancement. Soon thereafter, I became obsessed with finding the premier smart drugs on the market. Then using them to improve my life. When I'm not devouring everything I can about nootropics and the science behind why they work, you'll find me traveling around the world or in the gym.

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