Buying Batteries in Japan

By Donnie | Articles

I bought this red, lantern flashlight from K’s Denki because I wanted to test it out when making a video. My little video experiment failed, unfortunately, but not before I noticed something interesting. The flashlight was battery-powered, so I need to go an buy some. I opened up the flashlight and took a look inside. I was trying to find out what sized batteries I would need. The battery compartment looked big enough for C or D batteries (as we would say in the US), but I couldn’t figure out exactly what size I need. I looked…and I looked…and I looked, but nothing. I saw the little diagram engraved on the inside of the flashlight, but all I saw was this weird jumble of letters and numbers. I didn’t want to have to make multiple trips just to get batteries for this light, so I took it with me to my local convenience store.

I walked over to the batteries section and browsed around a bit. I was surprised to find out that none of the batteries I was looking at had the AA, AAA, C, or D names that I used in America. What I saw instead were codes of letters and numbers, just like on the plastic engraving on my flashlight. I guess you learn something new everyday 🙂

If you’re ever buying batteries in Japan, there are different codes they use to distinguish battery sizes:
*I’m basing these on the batteries used in America. I’m not really sure about batteries worldwide.*

AMERICAN/JAPANESE BATTERY SIZE EQUIVALENTS

AA is the same as LR6XJC

AAA is the same as LR03XJC

C is the same as LR14EJC

D is the same as LR20EFC

*I hope I listed these right*

The smaller, chromium batteries had a lot of different codes CR1616, CR2016, CR2025, and more. I believe 9V batteries are still 9V. Despite the unfamiliar names, the concept is the same. Your electronic device will have some kind of sticker or engraving that tells you exactly what battery size you will need. Writing down the code before going to the store might be a better idea here in japan. Double A, triple A, C and D are easy for me to remember, but LR20, LR40, LR6X etc., are a little tougher when I’m trying to make a quick battery run; they’re tougher to remember initially, anyway.

ARE BATTERIES EXPENSIVE IN JAPAN?

I don’t think so. Of course this can depend on the size and brand but I don’t really remember feeling like “Oh this price is an outrage!” At K’s Denki there were two packs of the Panasonic LR14 (C) batteries for like 290 yen and I think the LR20 (D) batteries for like 390. You’re wallet should be safe. They also have these Panasonic NEO, no mercury-added batteries that are pretty cheap, too.

POPULAR BATTERY BRANDS

Panasonic, National, Mitsubishi, and Maxell among others. I haven’t seen the Duracell (the copper top) batteries here, that I was so used to buying in Georgia. Then again, I guess I haven’t really looked for them (I don’t use a whole lot of batteries these days). But I did see Energizer batteries when I went to the store yesterday. That reminds me, is the Energizer Bunny still around anymore?

To me, the brand is kind of irrelevant. Regardless of the brand, the batteries here seem to get just as much juice as any I used. And why wouldn’t they? Isn’t Japan like technology central?

Thanks for reading,

Donald Ash

About the Author

  • Q says:

    i never noticed they had codes?? we usually use 単1〜単4for sizes.

  • Q says:

    i think 単4is same as AAA

  • Marisa says:

    I think you know who Q is… 🙂

  • Matt W says:

    I bought some Sanyo Eneloop rechargable size D’s for a radio project back in the US. (Which are not sold outside of Japan in C or D sizes) I think they came out to ~2900 yen each, Compared to normal 300 yen for the AA size.

    After the sticker shock, (And these particular batteries being one of the primary reasons for the trip) I bought four.

    Really the best batteries EVER!

  • jo says:

    Thanks! Your article was helpful. ^^

  • David Piquett says:

    Honestly there made in Japan ………………….End of discussion

  • Great bit of info I can use when I travel to Oska this fall!

  • Chris says:

    I will be going to Japan in April (until June for study abroad) and I will be bringing my laptop. But my laptop mouse is wireless and uses a AA battery. I’m nervous about taking batteries on the plane but will my cordless mouse still be able to work with Japanese batteries? I just really hate using the touch thing laptops always have.

  • John McFerren says:

    These aren’t just Japanese codes, these are International codes. These codes are in small print on your Duracells.

    These codes have 4 components for household batteries (except those that are/contain AAAA). The first component is the number of cells in series, if this is absent, it is a single cell. The second component is the electrochemical system. If absent it is Zinc-Carbon. L is Alkaline, F is voltage compatible Lithium, H is Nickel Metal Hydride, K is Nickel Cadmium. Types M and N are no longer valid or legal as these are mercury types. Next is the shape code, R is round, F is flat (you see this code in 9 volts). P (not round) and S (square) are uncommon.

    Next you have the size code, this can be one or two digits. The R20 is D, R14 is C, R6 is AA, R1 is N (not too common), and R03 is AAA. Note you will also see R25 for F, but not in single cells. (Standard Lantern Battery is 4R25 for 4 R25 cells in series.)

    Last you have a hyphen and a number. This means that there are sets of cells in Parallel. The old Eveready Big Jim lanterns used a type 918 battery which translates to 4R25-2 (2 Parallel sets of 4 F-Cells in Series).

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