[Special Edition] Useful Information to Know When You Get Hurt or Sick in Japan
You never know when you'll get hurt while traveling in a foreign country. It's definitely reassuring to know about the healthcare in the country you are visiting just in case you suddenly feel sick or get injured! So, here are some useful bits of information on medical care that will prove handy when you travel to Japan!
Healthcare in Japan
If you visit a hospital in Japan, you will have to pay all the medical expenses out of your own pocket unless you have travel insurance. This is why it's strongly recommended that you get travel insurance and carry the necessary ID or certificate with you when you travel to Japan. Most of the medical facilities in Japan only accept cash and refuse payments by credit card, so it is important that you take note of that when choosing which insurance to get. You may even want to consider cashless health insurance. As for language accommodation at hospitals, currently there are only a few medical institutions in Japan that are able to provide multilingual support. It's best to check for hospitals that can accommodate you in case of an emergency in advance.
First, Talk With the Hotel Reception
If you get hurt or sick, the best thing to do is to first consult with the front desk or concierge in the hotel where you are staying. They should be familiar with the medical facilities in the area, so make sure to talk to them about it. It's also a good idea to contact the tourist information center of the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) and your travel insurance company. You will be introduced to a nearby medical institution with whichever method you choose.
For Light Symptoms, Buy Medicine at the Drugstore
If you are suffering from minor symptoms, then you have the option to buy medicine on your own. When you do, it would probably be better to go to a drugstore selling a wide variety of medicine that you can purchase without prescriptions than to a prescription pharmacy that mainly dispenses medicine prescribed to you at a hospital. Drugstores offer various medicines, including gastrointestinal, anti-diarrheal medicine, and fever medicine, as well as bandages, plasters, antiseptics, and compresses. As for multilingual services, there is currently a growing number of establishments with staff that can speak English and Chinese, especially in the major chains (such as Matsumoto Kiyoshi and Daikoku Drug) in tourist spots. It would be best to check them out in advance as you set up your travel itinerary.
If You Are Unsure About Your Condition, Go to a Facility That Accepts Tourists
Even if you think that you feel fine after some rest, it is usually dangerous to decide your condition by yourself. You should go to a medical facility to be on the safe side. Here are two useful sites where you can search for medical institutions that accept tourists on a computer or smartphone.
List of Medical Institutions Accepting Tourists (Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) Homepage)
Japan Medical Service Accreditation for International Patients (Japan Medical Education Foundation Homepage)
In Case of Emergency, Call 119 for an Ambulance
If you feel that your situation requires urgent care, then call an ambulance. In Japan, if you dial 119 to call for an ambulance, they will come right away to rush you to an emergency hospital. There are English-speaking operators available throughout the whole day, but if there is a Japanese person nearby, it would be best to ask them to call for you. In that case, please show them the following Japanese sentence.
Kyukyusha o yonde kudasai (meaning: Please call an ambulance).
※Ambulance services in Japan will generally be free of charge from April 2019.
This article offers information that can help you in case of emergencies. Self-protection is important in preventing illness and injury, such as not overdoing it when you feel sick and staying away from dangerous places. Make sure to take care of yourself and have a pleasant trip!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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