Medical emergencies in a foreign country can be a frightening experience. Fortunately, Japan has an advanced medical services infrastructure, and in most urban areas you will be able to find a major hospital or clinic with at least some ability to communicate with you in English. Travelers with pre-existing conditions are strongly encouraged to carry copies of any prescriptions, along with enough medicine, if any, for the duration of your stay. All visitors should also carry proof of medical insurance, either private or public, as well as a list of any medications or substances to which you have a known allergy, along with a notation of your blood type.
In Japan, common over-the-counter drugs and prescription medicines are available only at drug stores, most of which have a pharmacist on duty, and not at convenience stores or supermarkets. You are generally permitted to bring into the country such over-the-counter and prescription medications as are generally available overseas, in quantities sufficient for personal use (there are some restrictions on medications containing stimulants, even if available over-the-counter elsewhere. See the Japan Customs information page for more information). The strength and composition of common drugs, including pain relievers and cold remedies, may differ from standards in your home country; consult with a pharmacist on duty, or a doctor if you are visiting one.
Japan has no requirements for pre-travel inoculation against known diseases, however, if you are arriving from a country where there is a threat of avian flu (so-called “bird flu”), SARS, or other epidemic disease, you may be asked to visit the Health Office at the airport upon your arrival.
Many large hotels have access to on-call medical services; some may have an in-house doctor or clinic?inquire at the front desk. If your illness requires hospitalization or other more advanced care, there are facilities around the country prepared to handle the foreign visitor. Below is a link to a list of such facilities.
If you are unable to immediately contact English-speaking services, this link below provides some common phrases you can use to communicate with Japanese-speaking staff. In Japan, ambulance services are provided by the fire department; dial ‘119’ from any phone to request an ambulance.
Some medical information is also available for visitors to Japan via telephone, with service provided in English and in many other languages.
The AMDA International Medical Information Center
The AMDA International Medical Information Center provides telephone services to foreigners in Japan in several languages. They can provide introductions to medical facilities with staff who speak the patient's language, and also explain the health care system to callers.
Tel: Tokyo 050-3598-7574(office)
Tel: Tokyo 03-5285-8088(consultation)
Tel: Osaka 06-4395-0555
Tel: Machida 042-799-3759