Are you new to Japan and facing problems in using the Japanese Air Conditioner Remote due to the language barrier? No worries, there is nothing to feel embarrassed about I also confronted a similar issue when I was new in Japan so I decided to write an article on it to guide foreigners who are not able to understand the functions of Japanese air conditioner remote. In this article, we will look into some common and uncommon modes of Japanese air conditioner also the buttons we find in air conditioner remotes. Along the way, I will share some examples of remotes and buttons here for reference.
Before the Great Japanese Summer, the hardiest ex-pat living in Japan is usually get humbled. When the temperature rises and humidity follows in tow, most of the people then enjoy with their seasonal friend, THE AIR CONDITIONER.
The funniest thing is Japanese air conditioners assume that because you are living in Japan it means you can read Japanese but actually it’s not true everyone cannot read Japanese like us. The standard wall-mounted Japanese air conditioner controlled with infrared remote control, usually, it came up with a wall-mounted holder attached underneath the unit. These remotes are decorated in such a delicious layer of kanji depending upon the ancient Chinese pictographs instead of something more understandable and accessible for ex-pat
Basic Functions on a Japanese Air Conditioner Remote
To turn on the air conditioner (運転):
There are two ways to turn on Air conditioner motioned below
- There is a button 運転 (unten) on some remotes which mean “on”, this button size and color may vary on brands. To turn on the air conditioner press the “運転 (unten)” button the air conditioner will turn on and set to the mode you have selected automatically.
- Sometimes there is no dedicated button on remotes so, in this case, you need to select mode directly heating or cooling according to your weather. It will automatically turn on your air conditioner.
To turn off the air conditioner (停止):
There will always be an off button on the remote but it also varies on the design of remote of different brands named 停止 (teishi) in kanji.
- Sometimes there is a standalone and embossed button in a raised bar shape or dot on the remote so you can feel it in dark
- Sometimes the on the button has the label 運転／停止 which means works for both on/off functions. The first press will turn on and the second press will turn off the air conditioner
- Rarely, on/off will be noted by the kanji 入／切.
For temperature adjustment (温度):
There is a button labeled in kanji 温度 (ondo) for temperature adjustment or there can be an up and down arrows through which you can raise or lower the temperature.
For adjustment in direction of air (風向):
To change the direction of the flap where the air exist there is an up/down arrow labeled in kanji [上／下] (ue/shita) however, in some models there is a left/ right direction mode too for that look for the label [左／右] (hidari/migi)
For adjustment in the strength of air flow (風量):
There is also an interesting feature in most of the air conditioners which is having the ability to strengthen and weaken the airflow. In general, this is labeled in kanji as 風量 (fuuryou) or 風速 (fuusoku). You can find on the screen that which mode you have selected whether the strength mode or weak mode either in form of pictorially or with kanji.
- [弱い風] (yowai kaze): weak airflow
- [強い風] (tsuyoi kaze): strong airflow
- [微風] (bifuu): gentle airflow
- [静音] (seion): quiet
The Different Modes of Japanese Air Conditioners
Japanese air conditioners are the most energy-efficient. They can invert the air according to the weather requirement they work for cooling you off in summers wherein winters they are protecting you from coldness by venting the cool air out the brining the warm air in. These basic modes can be found in all Japanese air conditioners.
- Cool mode [冷房]:
To convert your air conditioner mode to cool your home or apartment look for the kanji 冷房 (reibou), which means cooler.
- Dry mode [除湿 or ドライ]:
Dry mode is most often used in summers it is similar to cooling mode but dry mode dehumidifies the air instead of directly convert the hot air into the cold air like the cool mode. By taking the moister out the air become cooler. As Japan is known for its extreme summer’s humidity, it is an easy and effective way to control the temperature of your house without forcing the cold air in. to convert your air conditioner to the dry mode look for the label in kanji dehumidification 除湿 (joshitsu) or the katakana for dry [ドライ].
- Heat mode [暖房]:
To turn your air conditioner to heat mode in winters look for the label in kanji 暖房 (danbou), which means heater.
- Mode selection [運転切換] (unten kirikae):
If your air conditioner remote is not designed with separate buttons for modes then look for the mode selection button 運転切換 (unten kirikae) to cycle through the different modes on the screen
Special Modes on Some Japanese Air Conditioners
Sometimes the following modes are built into the air conditioner it may vary on its model.
- Automatic mode (自動) (jidou):
With this mode, you just need to set up your air conditioner to your desired temperature and the rest will be handled by the air conditioner itself to maintain your desired temperature. This is the fire-and-forget solution to warming or cooling your room.
- Ventilation mode (送風) (soufuu):
When you find it’s getting stale simply just switch to this mode if your air conditioner has this feature it’s the high time to use it. This mode helps to move in or out the air.
- Full power mode (パワフル／ハイパワー):
This mode will blast out the air strongly and it’s a little bit noisy but if you are not concern for noise use it, it will heat or cool your room more quickly.
- Swing mode (スイング):
If you want your air conditioner to blow the air in all over your room, not in the fixed direction then you can select the swing mode it moves the flap up and down in constant motion and pushes the air evenly across the room.
- Cleaning modes (掃除／クリーン) (souji/clean):
The air conditioner will go into a quiet mode and clean itself out. Some air conditioners do this automatically when you stop using them.
- On/off timers (入／切 タイマー):
It is the most wanted feature because sometimes we want to set a particular time to turn on or turn off the air conditioner while we are busy at work or sleeping. To set the time look for the kanji labels:
- To turn on the air conditioner [入] (on),
- Or if you are setting the timer to turn off the air conditioner [切] (off).
Purchasing an Air Conditioner
The renting apartments in japan mostly have one wall mounted air conditioner. If the air conditioner having some problem concern to your landlord first before doing anything besides cleaning its filter. Also If you want to install a new unit you need to concern your landlord again before making any changes to your rental place. However, the owners can do as they wish!
If you want a new air conditioner the best place to visit is the electronic stores or any big chain like Bic Camera, Yodobashi Camera, Yamada Denki, or EDION well in these big chains you find air conditioner bit costly. But the benefit of buying from there is you’re guaranteed for the quality along with the installation support.
Don’t shop big electronic items online it’s risky and less reliable as most of the big companies do not sell their items online. Searching on Amazon or Rakuten will cause you more frustration and also you may find there more expensive than the stores too. So it’s recommended to avoid online purchases for big electronic items.
Expanding Your Air Conditioner’s Abilities: Wi-Fi and Remote Access
We can find interconnected systems in other countries like central air conditioners commonly found in American homes. But sadly Japanese air conditioners are stuck using just an infrared remote. But still, if you want to automate your house/apartment to get the control even when you’re not near to your place simply you can buy one of many Wi-Fi infrared blasters/hubs that exist on the Japanese market.
We also find some small devices full of infrared emitters, receivers, and a variety of sensors for temperature and light like LS Mini or Broadlink RM. They come up with an application that you can install on your phone to operate it without getting up from your place.
Similarly, as they are infrared learning software, so even if your air conditioner is extremely old, all you need to do is point the remote at the Wi-Fi device and control it.
There is also an interesting feature “the geolocation”, turn it on and set your locations when you will leave from work the geolocation will track you and automatically turn on the air conditioner when you will be near to your home and similarly for those who forget to turn off the air conditioner when they leave for a job or any other work geolocation will track you and if it finds you far from your home it will turn off the air conditioner automatically and also you can manually click off button on your mobile application to turn your air conditioner off which is really worthy and interesting. These blasters/hubs never run more than about 5000 yen, and you can easily find them for sale on Amazon.
In the End
Japanese air conditioners are nothing to be afraid of! Although they are quite tricky most are straight forward only required to memorize some kanji. There are a lot of features weigh down the remote make sure to use them! Instead of just using it for turn on and off. Heatstroke in the summer and frostbite in the winter is no joke.
As they say (and if they don’t say it, they say it now), the outside temperature in Japan is often the inside temperature in Japan.
Take care, and stay comfortable!