3. Air conditioner (Remote control translate, Filter Cleaning etc…)

How to Use an Air Conditioner in Japan – Functions, Tips and Repairs

Central cooling and heating is limited in Japan, so your best bet to comfortably regulate the temperature in your home is individual cooling and heating units placed in each room of the house. Here are our tips on How to Use an Air Conditioner in Japan – Functions, Tips and Repairs,

Looking like something out of a sci-fi, the buttons on a standard remote for an air conditioner in Japan can be intimidating. Who knew one machine was capable of doing so many things? This guide will help you get the most of out of your air conditioner by explaining its functions and the buttons on the remote.


Vocabulary for Using the Remote Control

A typical remote control looks like this:



A typical remote control for an air conditioning/heating unit in Japan.

There are a whole lot of buttons and functions, but you only need to know four or five to do almost everything you need.


運転停止 or 入切: On and Off

運転切り換え: Switch functions

温度: Temperature

風量切り換え: Switch fan power (amount of ventilation)


How to Switch between Functions

In almost all air conditioning/heating units in Japan, there are five basic functions you can choose from:


  1. 自働: Automatic. The unit automatically switches to the appropriate function based on the room temperature.
  2. 冷房: Air conditioning
  3. 除湿 or ドライ: Dehumidify. Super useful in summer or winter to reduce the amount of moisture in your room.
  4. 送風:  Ventilate. This just runs the fan without heating or cooling the air.
  5. 暖房: Heating
    To switch between the different functions, press on the 運転切り換え button until the triangle arrow points to the function you want in the LCD window. In the image above, the unit is set to 暖房 (heating)


Setting the Temperature

To set the temperature, press the Up and Down (温度, temperature) triangle buttons to the number you want.

Switch Fan Power

In almost all air conditioning/heating units in Japan, there are five fan power settings you can choose from:


自働: Automatic. Most manufacturers recommend this setting to maximize energy efficiency.

強風: Strong (high) fan power/ventilation

弱風: Weak (low) fan power/ventilation

微風: Very low ventilation

静音: Quiet mode Here’s how to read the characters for the different buttons and settings:



Setting the Timer

To save energy, you may want to set the timer on the air conditioner (so for example, it turns off a few hours after you fall asleep).The way to set the timer varies by the particular unit, but here is some vocabulary that may be useful.


Other Functions & Settings

Many air conditioning and heating units come with energy-saving and cleaning settings. Here are some common functions:


Energy-Saving Tips

Here are some facts and tips for efficiently using your air conditioner/heater and to keep your electricity bill down.


  1. For every 1 degree Celsius that you decrease the temperature setting in the winter, you will save about 10% in electricity usage; and vice versa in the summer. Source: Fujitsu General
  2. It is more energy efficient to adjust the temperature setting than to continually turn the machine on and off. This is because it takes more energy to power up than to adjust the temperature while the machine is running.
  3. For maximum energy efficiency, set the “fan power” to automatic rather than manually using “strong” or “weak” ventilation settings.
  4. In the winter, point the vents down to push warm air toward you. In the summer, point the air vents parallel to the ground. To do this, use the 風向 (fan direction) button.
  5. Clean the filter in your air conditioner at least once a month (every two weeks is even better!). For more info on how to do this please following you tube link:
  6. Circulate the air in the room with a floor fan in the summer. This helps to circulate cool air much more efficiently than just using the air conditioner unit.
  7. Make sure nothing is blocking the air conditioner’s exterior unit. This is the part of the air conditioner that sits on the balcony.



Pair your air conditioner with a fan to distribute cool air throughout the room and reduce energy consumption.


Point the fan upwards facing the air conditioner’s vent:

With the fan facing a wall, tilt the head upwards, leaving a space between the wall and fan:



The filter of air conditioner units should be cleaned every 3 months. Newer models tend to be self-cleaning and this function can be activated by using the remote.


CLEAN FILTER: Press [フィルター  掃除  /  ふぃるたーそうじ  / firuta- souji] to clean the unit’s filters.

INTERNAL CLEANING: Press [内部クリーン /  ないぶくりーん  / naibu kuri-n; may also be 内部清浄  /  ないぶせいじょう  / naibu seijou] to clean the unit.

Nevertheless, it is best to manually clean the unit to prevent the buildup of mold, dust, and bacteria. In particular, if you notice an unusual smell coming from your unit, do not hesitate to clean your air conditioner or to contact a repairman as this smell can indicate a buildup of mold.


How to clean your air conditioner

Before cleaning, be sure to have on gloves and a face mask and goggles if available. You will also want a vacuum cleaner and additional plastic bags on standby. Remove furniture or place a tarp over large items. Secure a plastic bag underneath air conditioner unit to catch dust. Open windows as well to let clean air circulate. Turn off power, unplug unit (or turn off breaker is there is no plug), and open the cover. To clean the unit, you may use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment, then very gently remove filter.

Place filter inside a plastic bag and use the vacuum cleaner to remove excess dust off filter. When done, use a shower head or hose, to thoroughly clean filter, making sure to spray water on the exterior of the filter. Let air dry, preferably for 24 hours or until completely dry. Once filter is completely dry, insert into unit. Using a damp filter can result in the buildup of mold. Lastly, you’ll want to clean the outside of the unit by gently wiping with a damp cloth.





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