May 15, 2014

Finding a hospital in Japan is difficult

If you cannot speak Japanese fluently, where will you go when you got sick in Japan?
I guess it is quite difficult, because most of the doctors in Japan cannot speak English fluently.

Even if the hospital claim to provide English support, their English skill are limited, not many of them can communicate with you smoothly. Most of the staff cannot speak English especially the receptionist. It would be better to call them and ask whether they can speak English or not.

Japan's National Health Insurance program allow people to visit hospital at a low cost, so they are always crowded.

You may have to wait in line for 2 hours before you can see a doctor for 10 minutes.
If you don't want to wait, you better go there early in the morning before anyone else.

Also, doctors are people too. Better go there in the morning when they are fully energized, rather then after lunch when they are sleepy and tired.

Sometimes you may feel you were treated poorly in the hospital, but consider the fact that doctors in Japan are extremely overworked and underpaid. They need to handle at less a 100 patients a day, speaking another language didn't help either.

There is a Japanese saying "Omoiyari" which mean consideration without verbal communication. Keep that in mind and it will serve you well in your life.

If you're living in the city, you can find a health care facility with English support, however, there is only a few in the countryside.
Please let us know, if you know any health care facility with English support, it will be helpful for other people, thank you. 


Hi guys ;) I like to do training. wanna share information about training and my daily life in Japan.


  • maynestacy

    on Dec 10

    Thank you for your great post. Nice topic. Is Omoiyari trust? I wonder how to learn it... About doctors and dentists, I have come across both good and god-awful ones in this country. Recommendations from happy patients go a long way, so lack Japanese language skills to ask those around you for referrals is a serious handicap. I recently asked on Facebook if anybody in my area knew of a dentist I could trust, and I got a recommendation that way.

  • Yuju

    on Dec 11

    @maynestacy Thanks! Yeah, omoiyari is kind of like trust, but also empathy and being considerate. Finding people in your area and asking them for information about doctors or dentists is a great way to find doctors who are able to speak English or are at least good doctors. That's what my wife often does, too.

  • Midori

    on Jan 25

    I've found that most doctors know the English words for the medical terminology, but don't feel confident in their conversational ability so don't advertise themselves as "English speaking doctors". So if you can manage conversational Japanese, this opens up more possibilities...

  • Yuju

    on Jan 26

    @Midori It won't be hard for you if you can manage Japanese conversation. But main problem is... Doctors attitude look like "mendokusai". I seen this situation many times at many hospital. Of course, some doctors are really nice to foreigners. But only few. I think it depends on area where you live.