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Emergencies and Urgent Care

Dial 119 for an ambulance when you need urgent medical treatment. This number is the reverse of 911, dial used in the US. An ambulance will come and your condition will be assessed before they transport you to a nearby hospital.

Japanese Hospitals and Clinics

General Information

Japan is highly regarded for its advanced level in medicine and medical technology. Hospitals and clinics use only the latest medical equipment. You have the option, depending on the seriousness and urgency of your illness, to choose the appropriate hospital (university hospital, general hospital or clinic).

When you visit a clinic or a hospital for the first time, you will need to fill out a registration form, present your health insurance card and sometimes pay a fee for the initial visit. To avoid any problems, you should check first to see if you need an appointment and what type of insurance they accept. It is always a good policy to carry your insurance card, in the event of an emergency.

List of Hospitals and Clinics with Foreign Language Services (Tokyo) List of Hospitals and Clinics with Foreign Language Services (Yokohama)

Finding a Hospital

You can go directly to a clinic or hospital if it is not an emergency. To find a suitable medical facility which is open and can communicate in English, contact the Tokyo Fire Department Disaster and Emergency Information Center (03-3212-2323, 24 hours). Not all hospitals are open 24 hours a day.

Regular Check-ups

Specialty clinics, which are more reasonably priced than hospitals and are usually conveniently located, are a better choice for regular check-ups. Although family doctors are not part of the general Japanese medical system, they may exist within the foreign community.

Billing Procedures

You can find medical facilities that accept National Health Insurance and others that do not. The latter deal more with the expatriate population and require cash payment at the time of the visit. In turn, they provide you with the completed forms to mail to your insurance company for reimbursement.
If you are using National Health Insurance, and do not have your insurance card with you, you will need to pay 100% of the bill, but you can present your insurance card at a later date to recover the payment. See “Health Insurance” to see what type of insurance you qualify for.

Medical Reference Hotlines

Here are some useful organizations to help you search for medical assistance.

The AMDA International Medical Information Center

A multi-lingual telephone service that provides information on medical care and hospitals in Japan that offer English-speaking staff.
Phone: 03-5285-8088 | Hours: 9:00am-5:00pm, Mon-Fri

Himawari

Himawari is a search engine for hospitals and clinics in Tokyo. You can also call to search for hospitals that have English speaking staff.
Phone: 03-5285-8181 | Hours: 9:00am-8:00pm, Daily

Japan Helpline

This is a non-profit 24 hour nationwide emergency assistance service to foreign residents in Japan. They provide advice on anything from a simple question, to an emergency situation.
Phone: 0570-000-911 | Hours: 24 hrs., Daily

Tokyo English Life Line (TELL)

TELL offers anonymous telephone counseling in English for the international and Japanese community. Trained telephone counselors provide support on a wide range of issues.
Phone: 03-5774-0992 | Hours: 9:00am-11:00pm, Daily

TELL Counseling and TELL Children and Families

Licensed/certified team of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and counselors provide confidential counseling. Other services include exceptional parenting, child protection, workshops and EAP programs.
Phone: 03-4550-1146

International Mental Health Professionals Japan

A primary resource for finding qualified psychotherapists and counselors serving the international community in Japan. Wide range of services in multiple languages.

Obtaining Medicine

You can buy non-prescription medicine at convenience stores or general drug stores. For prescribed medicine you will need to go to a Chozai-Yakkyoku (pharmacy). They are usually located near medical facilities.

Health Insurance

Japan has two main public health insurance systems: the Employees’ Health Insurance and the National Health Insurance. All residents, including foreigners, who have an address in Japan must join one of the Japanese public health insurance systems regardless of whether they have a private insurance or not. If you have joined one of them, you and your immediate family will only need to pay 30% of the medical fee. Some services such as health check-ups, comprehensive medical examinations (Ningen-dock), dental check-ups and special operations such as implants may not be covered by insurance, so it is advisable to always inquire first. There is also a system called Kogaku Ryoyohi Seido (High Cost Medical Fees) in which the portion of medical expenses that exceeds the established limit of medical expenses paid in a single month is reimbursed. For details refer to the Social Insurance Agency.

Employees’ Health Insurance

Kenko-Hoken (Employees’ Health Insurance) is a workplace-based health insurance system for company employees and their dependents. Your premium is based on your income, and will be split equally between you and your company. Your company will deduct the payment from your salary every month.

Social Insurance Agency

National Health Insurance

Kokumin-Kenko-Hoken (National Health Insurance) run by the local municipal office is designed for self-employed persons and students who do not have Employees’ Health Insurance. Foreigners who are not members of the Employees’ Health Insurance must register for this, as long as they have a visa that is effective for at least a year. Monthly contributions will differ based on where you live and your income. You can check details at your local municipal office.

Foreign Insurance

Private insurance, aimed at expatriates in Japan, is also available. This will cover special treatments which the public medical insurance does not cover, such as cancer treatment, high-tech medical treatments, hospitalization and even treatments received while overseas. Because medical expenses can easily increase without any health/medical insurance, it is highly recommended you register with one of the insurance systems.

Hospitals in Japan that accept foreign insurance may have differing policies. Please check with the hospital directly to learn what their policy is.

Preventing Food Poisoning and Heat Stroke in the Summer Months

Japan is hit by soaring temperatures and high humidity levels starting in the June rain season and letting up around September. During this season, there is a constant risk of food poisoning, heat stroke, and dehydration. Even though Japan is well known for its great sanitation, the heat and humidity of the summer is not to be taken lightly. First, in order to protect yourself against food poisoning, remember to wash your hands thoroughly, store perishable foods in the refrigerator or freezer, avoid storing foods in especially hot, humid places or where there is direct exposure to sunlight, and clean and dry eating/cooking utensils properly. If you are planning to pack your lunch, avoid raw foods and try to store it using ice packs or cooler bags.

Also keep in mind that with the high humidity it is harder to produce sweat and your body cannot properly cool itself down. This can greatly increase your risk of heat stroke. On sunny days with particularly high temperatures, make sure to take shelter indoors or in the shade, take conscious steps to stay cool, and drink plenty of water.

Hay Fever in Japan (Kafunsho)

Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen mainly of cedar (February through April) and Japanese cypress (May). Symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing and itchy eyes. They can be minimized or prevented by consulting a doctor for prescription drugs, or by using over the counter medicine like eye drops. Wearing masks and glasses, gargling, washing your face, not leaving your laundry outside or leaving your windows and doors open, are also effective.

Flu
The flu (influenza) season usually begins around November, so it is best to get vaccinated before it begins to spread through the population. Vaccinations are available at many local hospitals and clinics, but are not covered by all health insurance policies. Consult your doctor first if you have egg allergy.