I remember the first time I had to go to the hospital in Japan. I went to this cheap restaurant with my friends during the rainy season and ate a dish with rice in it. It was a bit cold when it arrived on the table though…which I should have taken as a warning sign. Things tend to go bad quickly as the humidity rises, and I woke up in the middle of the night in excruciating pain. A phone call to my parents later and I found out that the dish had given me a nasty case of food poisoning. Thankfully a hospital was close by, so I crawled my way over there once I was…done. I learned a painful lesson about how when it comes to food poisoning, it's not only meat you need to be careful about. I was nervous because I had never been to the hospital before and there was nobody I knew who could help me, but everything turned out just fine with a little help from the good ol’ interwebs. Here are some websites that may prove to be useful if you need to go to the hospital:
If you are having a medical emergency, dial 119.
Another useful number is the 24-hour Japan Poison Information Center hotline (Japanese only): 072-727-2499. They can help with accidental ingestion of household products, cigarettes, pharmaceuticals, agricultural products, naturally-occurring poisons, and industrial products. For any other ingestion/poison-related emergency, please call 119.
Savvy Tokyo’s article goes through the basics of insurance and vocabulary related to common illnesses.
If you want to find a hospital that provides services in your native language, check out the JNTO hospital search page. You can search based on area, profession, and even credit cards accepted. We also have a Kashiwa hospital map available for download on our website and in solid form at our center.
If you have an ailment requiring a specialist, such as a skin condition or vision problems, check out Survive in Japan’s article explaining the clinic system in Japan.
The Expat’s Guide to Japan gives some basic information about having a child in Japan and another article about child immunization schedules.
If you suffer from migraines, there seems to be a headache clinic in Yoyogi, which is about an hour away from Kashiwa Station. There is English support as well as Japanese support. If you have severe migraines that do not respond to the typical abortive medicines (loxoprofen, ibuprofen, Bufferin, etc), then I suggest making an appointment. Abortive medicines can be bought over the counter or prescribed at any regular clinic. I recommend getting the prescription because it will be covered under your insurance.
Vocabulary and Useful Phrases
If you are having a medical emergency, dial 119. Take this chart with you for easy communication. The chart was created by the Japan National Tourism Organization and you can communicate your systems by merely pointing to the pictures.
The True Japan and Survive in Japan both have great articles that take you through some of the common phrases used in hospitals. They tell you what phrases you might expect to hear as well as how to respond. If you would like to hear the pronunciation of common hospital phrases and get a more in-depth list of vocabulary, I recommend you check out Live Japan’s guide to hospitals.
This article by Gaijinpot does a good job of explaining how to read the instructions on your prescription.
I hope that this article has given you some peace of mind and helped you understand the medical system in Japan!