Japanese Hospital Examination Guide

Your home country and Japan may have different medical systems. To avoid hurry when you get sick, find out in advance how to go to a Japanese hospital. Read this article to learn about the Japanese medical system and the flow of hospital visits when you are sick or ill. 
*Here, it is assumed that you are a resident of 3 months or more in Japan.

Basic knowledge before going to the hospital

When you get sick or ill, you can go to a Japanese hospital.  To do so, let’s first know about the Japanese medical system.

Health insurance

In Japan, everyone is required to take out health insurance so that they can receive medical care with peace of mind.  There are two types of health insurance. 

if you have either insurance, 70% of the medical fee will be covered by insurance.

Who is covered by Social insurance?

The first is medical insurance called Social insurance(社会保険 (しゃかいほけん)/ shakai-hoken) for people working at the company.  In the weeks you started working, you will receive a card called a Health insurance card (健康保険証(けんこうほけんしょう) / kenko-hokensho) from the company. 
When you get a job, you are obliged to join and the insurance premium is deducted from your salary. 

Who is covered by National health insurance?

The second is National medical insurance(国民健康保険(こくみんけんこうほけん) / kokumin-kenkohoken). 
Those who are covered by the National health insurance are international students and those who work less than 20 hours a week. 
You can apply for National health insurance at the city hall where you are registered as a resident.  As with Social insurance, you will receive a Health insurance card after completing the enrollment procedure.  You should go to a convenience store or a bank and pay the National health insurance premium yourself.

Differences between hospitals and clinics and how to distinguish them

In Japan, there are medical institutions called hospitals and clinics.  The hospital sees you when you have a serious illness.  The clinic will see you if you have a cold or an injury that heals quickly.  You can go to hospital even if you have a cold, but it may be a little expensive, so it is recommended that you go to a clinic if you have an illness or injury that will heal quickly.

Necessary items

Health insurance card

Residence card and passport

Medicine notebook


Flow of examination and prescription of medicine

Make an appointment for the hospital
  • You can find the phone number for reservation on the hospital sign or the hospital website.
  • Call the hospital and ask if an appointment is required for examination.


Hospital staff
Hospital staff

Hello, it’s ▲▲ hospital.


I would like to have a medical examination; do I need to make an appointment? 

Hospital staff
Hospital staff

Not required.  Please come as it is. Or Is required.
いいえ、必要ありません。そのままお越(こ)しください。or 予約(よやく)が必要(ひつよう)です。
Please tell me the desired appointment date.


Can I make an appointment at MM / DD HH?

Hospital staff
Hospital staff

We made an appointment.  May I have your name and phone number?


I’m ▲▲. Phone number is 090-****-****
名前(なまえ)は▲▲です。 電話番号(でんわばんごう)は090-****-****です。

Hospital staff
Hospital staff

Thank you. Please be careful on your way here.

Take the necessary items and go to the hospital on the reserved date and time
  1. Issue a Health insurance card.
    Just in case, bring your passport and residence card. A reception staff may ask if this is your first visit to this dental clinic.
  2. Receive the medical interview sheet and fill in the required items.
  3. After completing the  medical interview sheet, hand it to the staff at the reception counter.
    It is OK to show the original memo to be introduced later to the staff.
  4. Wait in the waiting room until your turn comes.
 Enter the examination room
  • Enter the examination room when your name is called.
Communicate the symptoms
  • Tell your symptoms as far as you can understand Japanese.
    It is OK to show the original memo to be introduced later to the doctor.
  • A doctor can understand simple English words.
Wait in the waiting room after the examination
  • Wait in the waiting room to pay the medical fee.
  • When your name is called, go to the reception counter.
Pay the medical fee
  • In most hospitals and clinics only cash can be used to pay the medical fee.
Get a prescription
  • Receive a prescription to get medicine at the pharmacy.
Give the prescription and medicine notebook to the pharmacy staff
  • Leave the hospital and head for the pharmacy.
    There is always a pharmacy near the hospital.
  • If you are going to a pharmacy for the first time in Japan tell the pharmacy staff that there is no medication notebook.
Wait in the waiting room
  •  When your name is called, go to the counter.
Get an explanation of the medicine
  • You may get a lot of explanations about medicines, It’s okay if you can understand only the timing of taking the medicine.
Pay for medicine
  • Pay the medicine fee at the pharmacy, not at the hospital.
Complete Guide to Buying Japaneses Medicine in Japan

Evaluation by the staff before getting a medical examination

Most hospitals have to write a medical interview sheet before the examination.  The medical interview sheet is a document that tells your doctor about the symptoms of your sick or illness.  The following is an example of the items to be filled in the medical interview sheet. 

  • Name
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Where does it hurt?  What kind of malfunction is it? 
    *The name of the body part and how to express the pain will be explained in another article.
  • When did it hurt?
  • Are there any medicines you are taking?
  • Do you have any allergies?
  • Do you drink or smoke?
  • Are you pregnant? etc.

However, it may be difficult to fill in these in Japanese or explain them to your doctor. So, I made a original memo so that your medical condition can be communicated to doctors and staff just by showing the screen of your smartphone.  If you have difficulty speaking in Japanese, please show this form to the hospital staff.

How to use original memo

You can also download and print the PDF.

Copy the text and image on your smartphone’s notepad.

Rewrite your information only in the text part.
Take a screenshot.
Mark up the corresponding check box in the photo app.
Take a screenshot and show it to the hospital staff.


Original memo

Please copy the part below from here to the memo app on your smartphone. 

 ●Name : Yoji Yoshimaru
 ●Sex : Male
 ●Age & Date of Birth : 36, 1984/7/22
 ●Address : Tokyo-to, Itabashi-ku…
 ●Phone number : 090-****-****

Feel free to copy this memo on your smartphone.


Unless you have surgery or a major test, you will not need more than 10,000 yen for your first visit.  If you still have to go to the hospital or clinic, ask your doctor, nurse, or reception staff how much you will need next time.
 Credit cards are often not accepted except at large medical institutions such as national hospitals and university hospitals.  We recommend that you have cash ready.

Support this blog

This blog is run with your donations. If this article helps you, I would be grateful if you could support this blog in the form of a cup of coffee.


Please be rest assured that doctors and nurses are all kind people. If you are worried about your unfamiliar living environment, or if you are worried about your illness or injury, you may want to tell it in Japanese because it is okay to take your time. 
If this article helps you, leave a comment and follow us on Twitter. I would be happy if you could do it.

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I hope that you will not get sick or injured in Japan, and that if you get sick or injured, you will get better soon.

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