Finding a Doctor

Information on how to find a general practitioner or medical specialist in Japan, plus details on medical emergencies and who to contact...

Patients can choose to see a doctor in either a hospital, outpatient clinic or private clinic. For private clinics, check that the health insurance card is accepted before visiting.

Japan does not have general practitioners. Instead, clinics will have a number of specialists and a patient will be directed to one of these depending on the complaint. The closest type of doctor to a general practitioner is one who specialises in Internal Medicine. Skin complaints will be treated by a dermatologist, stomach upsets by a Gastroenterologist and so on.

Medical treatment must be paid for before leaving a hospital or clinic. Some clinics and hospitals allow direct payments from the insurer while others require the entire bill to be paid immediately, with the patient being reimbursed by their insurance company later.

  • The Find a doctor now website has more tips for first-time visitors
  • Carry cash. Credit cards are not accepted in all hospitals and clinics.

Finding an English-speaking doctor

Although most local governments have online databases of local doctors, with a specific listing for doctors who speak English, the databases are only in Japanese.

The AMDA International Medical Information Center has staff who speak many languages and can explain how the medical system works. They can also help foreigners to find doctors that speak their language.

Tokyo English Life Line offers counselling, and also has a service called WIKI-tell where foreigners can find English language services throughout Japan.

Japan Helpline is the only service which is open 24 hours, seven days a week. They offer assistance for any kind of problem - medical or other.

Medical Emergencies

In the event of a medical emergency, Tel: 119.

Once a call is made, it is connected to the local fire department and an ambulance is sent from there. English might not always be understood; if possible, the call should be made by someone who speaks Japanese.

If the patient has a preference for a certain hospital they should tell the ambulance team who, if possible, will take them there.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Medical Institution Information Service provides an emergency translation service over the telephone.