Living in Japan: Health
If you’re staying in Japan for any length of time you’ll want to have access to same health facilities that you would in the West, whether this be an emergency like a sudden illness or standard maintenance such as hair cuts & dental.
In the unlikely situation that you should be accosted by a pack of ninjas and are in urgent need of medical care for a ninja star-ectomy, you can rest assured that there are health care facilities with English speaking staff in Japan. However you will find the majority of them are located in large cities (The top 15 populated cities in the country). Therefore should you be out in the boonies, you’ll have to deal with non English speaking staff.
The following list of English-speaking health care facilities is provided courteously by the Japan National Tourism Organization. Click here
Your other option is to give a ring to the AMDA (International Medical Information Center). Their English-speaking staff will relay all of your information and then give instructions to your nearest health care facility. They can also explain Japan’s health care system.
Of course should you have no other option you should seek medical attention at the nearest facility you can find regardless of foreign language accommodation. It is not recommended that you delay emergency medical care for the purpose of finding an English-speaking facility, for emergency and medical workers have at their disposal an on demand telephone interpretation service, where the doctors can get their questions to you interpreted over the phone in English.
AMDA International Medical Information Center
Tel: Tokyo 050-3598-7574(office)
Tel: Tokyo 03-5285-8088(consultation)
Tel: Osaka 06-4395-0555
Tel: Machida 042-799-3759
If your medical situation is not an emergency however and delay won’t have an impact on your health, by all means go to a facility that’s further away with English-speaking staff.
Should you be in a life-threatening emergency or suspect one (chest pain, difficulty breathing, altered mental status, traumatic injury or uncontrolled bleeding, posioning), don’t mess around! Call ‘110’ for Police or ‘119’ for Medical or Fire immediately! They will have resources to get interpretation for you.
Emergency Medical Phrases
Clear communication will make a big difference in the speed and efficacy of the care you receive. When in doubt about the pronunciation just write it down:
Kibun ga warui desu
Me ga itai desu
|Ototoi kara desu
(since the day before yesterday)
Don’t let the fact that everyone in Japan has bad teeth let you become complacent and not take care of your pearly whites! Dentists recommend routine cleaning be done every four months, besides when else are you actually going to get some new floss, tooth paste and tooth brush?
Be prepared to pay a few bucks however. Whereas a standard ‘cleaning’ in the USA costs around $80 USD, a cleaning in Japan will cost as much as $200 USD. On the bright side, it will be the most thorough cleaning you’ve ever had in your life.
As stated in the ‘Emergency!’ Section, you can also ring up the AMDA International Medical Information Center and ask them about where you can get your teeth done.
Teeth Cleaning in Tokyo:
Perhaps more daunting to women than men (as its pretty hard to muff a man’s hair cut), haircuts in Japan can be disastrous if you don’t communicate exactly what you want. This is compounded by the fact that generally hairs salons & barber shops in Japan do not have English-speaking staff. If you live in a large city you can find shops that cater specifically to foreigners. A quick search on google.co.jp while reveal several such places, for example: “foreigner haircut tokyo”
Fortunately when worst comes to worst you can always ask them for the ‘hair katarogu’ (hair catalog) and you can just find a style that you like, and have them duplicate it.
There are typically two types of salons in Japan. One: quick cut shops which charge around 1000 – 1500 yen. And then salons which cost at a minimum 7000 yen. Men and women with simple hair cuts will find quick cut shops more than satisfactory.
STD Testing & Clinics
Don’t let anyone tell you that AIDs and STDs don’t exist in Japan and that its nothing to worry about. The Japanese society and people have a tremendous aversion to this subject and because of this some act rather recklessly, having unprotected sex with partners over a period of time and never getting tested. This blind spot is found in the brothels, where many prostitutes don’t even use protection.
Whatever your situation may be you can rest assured that you can avail yourself of STD testing in Japan. However clinics with English-speaking staff are few and fare between, therefore you’ll most likely have to take a trip to your nearest big city. Below is a list of resources for clinics in city centers. Some are free and some are not. Generally most of them are not open every day for testing. Some just a few days a month. So make sure you know before you go.
When in doubt give the AMDA International Medical Information Center a call and find out what your options are. (See top of page for phone number)
STD Testing Clinic Tokyo:
STD Testing & List of Clinics in Sendai:
STD Testing & List of Clinics in Nagoya:
STD Testing Clinic Osaka:
STD Testing Clinics in Hiroshima:
STD Testing Clinics in Fukuoka: