Vegetarian's Japan Guide

The Useful Words and Phrases for Seeing a Doctor in Japan

A holiday aboard is one of the most exciting things to do. But as a human being, it is possible that you will feel unwell during your trip. Although it will cause frustration that you can’t follow the itinerary and visit the places you are longing for, seeking medical advice from a professional is necessary to ensure you get home safely.

But seeing a doctor in a foreign country can be challenging, especially if you don’t speak the language. So we have come up with this article introducing a couple of commonly used phrases and a list of symptoms and disease names that hopefully can make it easier when you see a doctor in Japan.

Table of Contents

Where to Purchase COVID-19 Self-Test Kit in Japan

When you have COVID-19 symptoms, the first step is to perform a self-test. But where can you purchase a self-test kit in Japan?

The good news is COVID-19 self-test kit is available in most major pharmacies in Japan. When you get to a pharmacy, ask the staff where the kit is placed. If they don’t speak English, you can use the below phrase or simply show it to them.

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すみません、コロナの検査キット(けんさキット)はどこにありますか?
Sumimasen, Korona no Kensa Kitto Wa Doko ni Arimasu Ka?
Excuse me, where can I find the COVID-19 self-test kit?

What to Do If You Tested Positive for COVID-19 in Japan

If your test result is positive and you have severe symptoms that you need to see a doctor in Japan, the best thing to do is call 050-3816-2787. This is the 24-hour Japan Visitor Hotline operated by Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO).

The hotline provides counselling services on matters related to COVID-19 to overseas visitors. They can advise you on the best clinic or hospital to visit for your situation and help you make an appointment. The operator can speak English, so call them if you have any concerns.

How to Purchase Medicine in Japan

When you experience initial cold symptoms in Japan, purchasing some medicines from the local pharmacies is best. This is so you have something to help relieve the cold and flu symptoms if it gets more serious later.

While there should always be someone who can speak English, if that is not the case, refer to the below vocabulary for the common types of medicines available at chemists.

JapaneseJapanese Pronunciation English
解熱鎮痛薬genetsu chintsū yakuMedicine for fever and body aches
咳止めsekitomeCough medicine
総合風邪薬sōgō kaze gusuriMedicine for common cold symptoms
胃腸薬ichō yakuGastrointestinal medicine

How to See a Doctor in Japan

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Can foreign tourists without Japanese Medicare see a doctor in Japan? The answer is yes. Although it is costly to seek medical treatment in Japan, if you have purchased relevant insurance for your trip, you can ask the hospital to issue a medical certificate, and apply for health insurance benefits after returning home, which can reduce some financial burden.

Google Maps is the easiest way to search for a hospital or clinic nearby. If there aren’t many results coming out when you search in English, try using Japanese: “病院” for hospital or “診療所” for clinic.

You can also refer to JNTO’s Medical Information Page. This website provides guides for foreign tourists to see a doctor in Japan, including a list of medical institutions in each prefecture.

Making a Doctor’s Appointment in Japan

Unlike many Western countries, seeing a GP as a walk-in patient usually doesn’t involve extensive waiting time. A medical consultation form will be given to you when you make an appointment at the reception. If it is a hospital that you visit, the forms usually come in different languages, making it easier for you to fill in.

During a Doctor’s Consultation in Japan

Like most countries, the first question the doctor will ask you is what has brought you here. While the case will be rare that the doctor can’t speak English, the below two Japanese sentences are the most common ones used.

今日はどうされましたか? Kyō Wa Dō Saremashita Ka?
どんな症状でご来院されましたか? donna shōjō de goraiin saremashita ka?

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A List of Common Cold and Flu Symptoms
JapaneseJapanese Pronunciation English
具合が悪いgu-ai ga waruiFeeling unwell
体がだるいkarada ga daruiFeel heavy body
新型ウイルス肺炎/コロナウイルスshingata uirusu haien/koronauirusuCoronavirus
寒気がするsamuke ga suruChills
高熱が出るkōnetsu ga deruHaving a high fever
冷や汗hiya-aseCold sweat
咳が出るseki ga deruCoughing
痰が絡むtan ga karamuWith phlegm
乾いた咳kaitasekiDry cough
喉が痒いnodo ga kayuiItchy throat
喉が痛いnodo ga itaiSore throat
飲み込むときに痛いnomikomu toki ni itaiPainful when swallowing
頭痛/頭が痛いzutsū/atama ga itaiGastrointestinal medicine
めまいがするmemai ga suruFeeling dizzy
頭が重いatama ga omoiHeavy-headedness
立ちくらみtachikuramiLight-headedness
風邪kazeCold/flu
耳鳴りmiminariTinnitus
鼻水が出るhanamizu ga deruRunning nose
鼻詰まりhanazumariNasal congestion
息切れikigireShortness of breath
アレルギーarerugīAllergy
貧血hinketsuAnemia
吐き気がするhakike ga suruFeeling nauseous
嘔吐をするōto wo suruVomiting
気を失うki wo ushi-nauFaint
脱水dassuiDehydration
生理痛seiritsūPeriod pain

A List of Common Gastrointestinal Symptoms
JapaneseJapanese Pronunciation English
腹痛/お腹が痛いfukutsū/onaka ga itaiStomach ache
胸やけmuneyakeHeartburn
胃もたれseki ga deruHeavy stomach
お腹が張るtan ga karamuBloated stomach
下痢をするgeri wo suruHave diarrhea
便秘をするnodo ga kayuiHave constipation
食欲不振shokuyoku fushinNo appetite
A List of Common Illness and Diseases

After you list out your current symptoms, the GP will also ask about personal or family medical history to facilitate the diagnosis of the condition. You can refer to the name of common diseases below to communicate with the doctor.

JapaneseJapanese Pronunciation English
インフルエンザinfuruenzaInfluenza
熱中症necchū shōHeatstroke
高血圧kōketsuatsuHigh blood pressure
アレルギー性鼻炎arerugīsei bienAllergic rhinitis
蓄膿症chiku-nōshōEmpyema
喘息zensokuAsthma
扁桃炎hentō-enTonsillitis
気管支炎kikanshi-enBronchitis
中耳炎chūji-enTympanitis
口内炎kōnai-enMouth ulcer
気胸kikyōPneumothorax
B型肝炎bīgatakan-enHepatitis B
食中毒shoku chūdokuFood poisoning
胃潰瘍ikaiyōGastric ulcer
逆流性食道炎gyakuryūsei shokudō enReflux esophagitis
盲腸炎mōchō-enAppendicitis
尿道炎nyōdō-enUrethritis
膀胱炎bōkō-enCystitis
腎臓結石jinzōkessekiKidney stone
糖尿病tō-nyōbyōDiabetes
A List of Common Diseases Among Toddlers

When parents bring their children to Japan, sometimes it is inevitable that they will be unwell. Especially for toddlers who can’t take medicines sold in pharmacies, seeking medical treatment from a local GP is the only option.

So in addition to the above common diseases, we have complied with the below diseases common to toddlers.

JapaneseJapanese Pronunciation English
水疱瘡MizubōsōChicken pox
ノロウイルスnoro wirusuNorovirus
麻疹/はしかmashin/hashikaMeasles
風疹fūshinRubella
おたふく風邪otafuku kazeMumps
手足口病teashikuchi byōHand, foot and mouth disease
りんご病ringō byōFifth disease
咽頭結膜熱、プール熱intōketsumaku netsu、pūru netsuThroat conjunctival fever
川崎病kawasaki byōKawasaki disease
熱性けいれんnessei keirenFebrile seizures

How to Get a Prescription in Japan

After the consultation, you will receive a prescription. If you are unsure where to get the prescribed medicine, the staff at the reception should be able to point you in the correct direction.

If you have any drug allergies, remember to let the GP know. Below is a list of common medicines that can cause allergic reactions.

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JapaneseJapanese Pronunciation English
◯◯ にアレルギーがあります◯◯ ni arerugī ga arimasuI am allergic to ◯◯
抗生物質kōseibusshitsuAntibiotic
アスピリンasupirinAspirin
インスリンinsurinInsulin
解熱鎮痛剤genetsu chintsū zaiAntipyretic analgesic
麻酔薬masuiyakuAnesthetic

Bringing a List of Emergency Contact While Traveling

Lastly, remember to consolidate a list of emergency contacts before leaving your country. Although the chances of using this list of contact is minimal, it will become handy if anything unexpected happens.

Find Out Some Useful Phrases that You Can Use in Restaurants in Japan

Click the photo to learn more Japanese phrases helpful in traveling in Japan!

In addition to the phrases and vocabulary that you can use when seeing a doctor in Japan that we have introduced above, how about learning some useful terms and sentences that you might find handy when you visit restaurants in Japan?

To find out the phrases useful when you dine in Japan, refer to our Essential Japanese Travel Phrases for Vegetarians and Vegans article!

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