When preparing to go on vacation, the last thing anyone wants to do is think about what-ifs! But as a practical matter, knowing what to do when encountering a disaster, injury, or just a bad cold, you'll feel much more at ease.
Here we've listed some essential tips for finding a medical institution in Japan - from going to the reception to paying the bill. Also, we will explain what to do if you have symptoms that suggest COVID-19 infection or if you test positive for COVID-19 while in Japan.
*Information updated September 20, 2022.
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- Table of Contents
- 1. How to find a medical institution in case of injury or illness
- 2. What do you need for a medical examination in Japan?
- 3. Payment method after getting a medical examination in Japan
- 4. What happens if you think you got COVID-19 while traveling in Japan?
- What if I test positive for COVID-19 during my trip in Japan?
1. How to find a medical institution in case of injury or illness
・Head to the hospital before your symptoms get worse
With the health insurance system in Japan, people can receive treatment at a self-pay amount of 10-30%. For that reason, many people casually use medical institutions.
However, many health insurance systems exist worldwide, and not everyone has medical insurance, as in Japan. Also, in other countries, there are costs for ambulances, medical costs differ depending on the hospital or doctor, and medical bills are expensive.
For that reason, many foreign visitors will use over-the-counter drugs for any injuries or illnesses they encounter during their travels and go to medical institutions once their symptoms worsen.
Once your symptoms get severe, your treatment bill could get more expensive, and in some cases, you might have to delay your return or even risk spreading infectious diseases.
We recommend going to a medical institution sooner than later. However, remember that since the spread of COVID-19, many such medical institutions have become crowded, and it is not easy to get an appointment.
・How to find a medical institution in Japan
There are about 5 ways to find a medical institution while traveling in Japan.
(1) If you are on a tour, ask your travel agent or the tour conductor
According to the survey conducted by the Japan Tourism Agency, about 50% of travel agencies have predetermined medical institutions to introduce to foreign visors if they become injured or ill. Also, depending on the agency they will accompany you to the medical institution.
However, it is difficult to predetermine medical institutions in every location, so in some cases, they won’t be able to refer appropriate medical institutions.
(2) Ask the concierge or front desk at your lodging facility
If you let them know your symptom, they might be able to refer a medical institution. However, it is very rare for them to accompany you.
(3) Ask at a tourism information center
Tourism information centers contain a lot of information in different languages, and they can lead you to the nearest medical institution. Also, at many Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO)-certified Foreigner Tourism Information Centers, there are staff who can speak foreign languages.
(4) If you have overseas travel insurance, ask your insurance company
If you have overseas travel insurance, contact your insurance company to get a referral to a medical institution.
For foreign visitors with overseas travel insurance, the insurance company will pay for the medical and medication bills at a partner medical institution, allowing you to receive treatment without worrying about payment.
Also, some insurance plans have services where they will conduct phone interpretation with doctors or even send an interpreter to the medical institution. Also, these service costs will be compensated.
*Depending on the region, it may be unable to locate a medical institution for which all costs are covered, in which case payment may be required.
*There are cases for which medication and other costs are not compensated.
(5) Search online
On the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) website, you can search for a medical institution that accepts overseas visitors. The website is in multiple languages, such as Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean, and you can refine your search by region, language, and clinical department.
2. What do you need for a medical examination in Japan?
The following are things you will want to have with you when you receive a medical examination:
・Passport or sightseeing ship landing card
・Insurance card if you have overseas travel insurance
・Cash or credit card
Some other useful items:
・A booklet with pictures and simple phrases you can point at to communicate, or a memo with past illness, allegories, current prescriptions, and religion.
The Japan Tourism Agency has guidebooks in multiple languages that you can download and save to your phone in case of need.
If you have these items, it will make your examination go smoothly in case of an emergency.
3. Payment method after getting a medical examination in Japan
・Flow of medical expenses settlement method
Here is the flow up to making a payment after you visit a medical institution.
(1) Confirm the payment method at the reception
After your medical examination, confirm the payment method at reception. Please note that many medical institutions in areas with frequent foreign visitors will accept credit card payments. However, areas with few visitors may only accept cash.
(2) Check payment method with the insurance company if you have Overseas Travel Insurance
Depending on the insurance you purchase, some will reimburse the patient at a later date, or the insurance company will pay directly to the medical institution. Make sure to check your insurance payment method.
Also, some credit cards have travel insurance; however, sometimes, it only applies if you purchase your travel with a credit card. Make sure to check your credit card’s travel insurance policy.
(3) Pay a deposit
Pay a deposit with a credit card or cash.
(4) Payment after the treatment
After you confirm the medical treatment, then pay the bill.
There are cases where they will give you a prescription; however, depending on the hospital, they will either give you the prescription there or at a drug store. Either way, the prescription bill is separate from the medical treatment bill.
Also, if you need the medical report in a different language, it might take some time to prepare, and you might receive it by mail at a later date. In that case, you will be charged the postal fee beforehand.
・Full treatment costs for foreign visitors
In some cases, foreign travelers may have to pay the full amount of the medical treatment.
Under the Japanese medical system, if a doctor determines you need more treatment, an additional examination will be added, leading to additional costs. Also, using an interpretation service may incur additional fees. The treatment fee can become very expensive for a severe medical condition, and we strongly recommend acquiring overseas travel insurance before your visit.
・What if you don’t have enough money on hand
You can consult on the following methods with the medical institution personnel.
(1) Credit card cash advance: You can get a credit card cash advance at ATMs in convenience stores or Japan Post Bank.
(2) Request reimbursement by accompanying person or Japanese resident: You could ask your friend, family, or accompanying person living in Japan for help and reimburse them.
(3) Ask if the embassy can become a guarantor: If you don’t have a credit card or friends or family in Japan, check if your embassy can be your guarantor.
4. What happens if you think you got COVID-19 while traveling in Japan?
If you are developing COVID symptoms in Japan
According to the Japan Visitor Hotline and the Tokyo Fever Consultation Center, when developing symptoms that could be COVID-19, like a fever, cough, etc., while in Japan, it is strongly recommended to inform your tour guide (if on a tour), rather than immediately visiting a medical institution for testing. If you’re not on a tour, contact your travel agent instead.
If you’re traveling independently, then call the local government health center or COVID-19 Consultation Center (the name of this may change depending on the local government) of whatever area of Japan you’re staying in.
You can see the contact information of each local government below (*1).
The available languages and opening times differ between regions. If your language isn’t displayed, contact the “Japan Visitor Hotline” instead at the number below (*2).
Afterward, you’ll be given information regarding where to get a COVID-19 test, which you’ll then be expected to visit. Unless instructed to do so by a doctor, visiting multiple medical institutions can lead to further spread of infection, so please just stick to the one indicated.
However, if you have breathing difficulties, high fever, or underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, contact the Japan Visitor Hotline (*2) immediately and await instructions.
Also, for those who are required to undergo a quarantine period after entering Japan (those without three vaccine doses, or from certain countries or regions), and who develop COVID-19 symptoms like a fever and cough during this time, should contact the Health Monitoring Center for Overseas Entrants (*3).
・Contact information for consultation centers to discuss COVID-19 concerns, receive medical treatment info, and organize a consultation with a doctor (in Japanese)
・Japan-wide medical consultations/consultation center information + help centers in various languages (in simplified Japanese, English, Korean, Chinese, Portuguese)
Example: For When You’re in Tokyo
・Tokyo Fever Consultation Center (Contact a nurse or health care practitioner)
・TEL: 03-6258-5780, 03-5320-4592 (Open 24 hrs daily including weekends and public holidays)
・Available languages: Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Nepali, Myanmar, Thai, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Example: For When You’re in Osaka
・TEL: http://ofw-oer.com/call/ Click “tourist guide” on the website to be put in contact with a call center (7:00 am - 11:00 pm, 9:00 am - 6:00 pm for Thai and Vietnamese)
・Available languages: Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai, Vietnamese
*2. Japan Visitor Hotline
・TEL: 050-3816-2787 (24 hrs, 365 days)
・Available languages: English, Chinese, Korean, Japanese
*3. Health Monitoring Center for Overseas Entrants
・TEL: 03-6757-1038 (automated voice)
Website (Japanese, English, Chinese):
What If You Want to Test Yourself?
If you can’t get through to any of the above organizations, you’ll need to test yourself to determine whether you’re positive or negative.
While there are organizations in Japan currently providing free PCR tests and such to those who are symptomless but concerned they may have caught COVID-19, as of September 2022, these are generally targeted towards residents and are not for travelers.
However, if you develop a fever on the plane on the way to Japan, once you land and are picked up by the airport thermography cameras, foreign travelers can receive a free PCR test at the airport if determined necessary by a doctor in Japan.
Otherwise, there are three ways to confirm whether you are negative/positive.
However, as mentioned above, it is recommended for travelers first to consult the proper agencies (relevant local government health center, COVID-19 Consultation Center (#1), or the Japan Visitor Hotline (#2)).
1. Pay for your own test at a medical institution
In Japan, you can receive a COVID-19 test at medical institutions and PCR testing centers.
The cost is typically around 20,000 to 30,000 yen for medical institutions and 5,000 yen for PCR testing centers.
See below for information regarding institutions that offer self-funded tests (*4, in Japanese). Keep in mind that foreign language assistance is not guaranteed.
*4. List of Institutions Offering Self-Funded Tests (in Japanese only)
2. Purchase a test kit and test yourself
There are two main ways to test yourself.
One is to purchase a “rapid antigen test kit,” also known as a RAT, but make sure it is one certified by the government for general testing.
There are currently four types certified by the government, which you can view below (*5). These can be purchased online, and have the mark “第１類医薬品,” which means “Class 1 Drug.” Those not certified have not had their efficiency confirmed, and may be inaccurate.
The second way is to buy a “medical antigen test kit” at a pharmacy. For extra assurance, check with the local government to see which test kits are recognized, as some positive results may not be accepted if the kit is not government-approved. Also, these kinds of kits are not available at all pharmacies, so check the list below before making plans (*6).
*5. Government-Certified Antigen Test Kits (as of September 5, 2022):
1. SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Test (General Use), by Roche Diagnostics (Nasal Swab)
2. CLINITEST COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test (General Use), by Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics (Nasal Swab)
3. HEALGEN COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test (General Use), by TAKARA BIO INC. (Nasal Swab)
4. Anspec Kowa SARS-CoV-2 (General Use) by Medical & Biological Laboratories Co., Ltd. (Saliva)
*6. Main Pharmacies With Medical Antigen Test Kits
Ain Pharmacy, Aisei Pharmacy, Welcia Pharmacy, Qol Pharmacy, Kirari Pharmacy, Hello Pharmacy, Nihon Chouzai, Inagaki Pharmacy, Sakura Pharmacy, Sogo Pharmacy, Drug Seims, HAC Drug, Kusuri no Aoki, V Drug, COSMOS Pharmacy, Kirara Mirai Pharmacy, Karugamo Pharmacy, Aeon Pharmacy, and more. See the full list below.
*7. List of pharmacies with medical antigen test kits (in Japanese, current as of September 15, 2022)
What if I test positive for COVID-19 during my trip in Japan?
If you test positive at a medical institution, they will contact a health center, who will then inform you of your treatment period and method.
Generally, if the patient can continue to stay at their current accommodation, they will stay there to recuperate; otherwise, the health center will refer them to another location.
If informed of a positive test result at a medical institute, try to use a special “Fever and Corona Transport Taxi.” The government does not operate these services, so you’ll need to research and confirm the cost and such yourself.
If you have tested positive on a kit you purchased, contact the local government health center or COVID-19 Consultation Center (name may change depending on local government, contact info above in *1), and await introductions on treatment period and method.
In addition, when traveling to a medical treatment facility, it depends on each municipality whether you arrange your own “Fever and Corona Transport Taxi” or use a special taxi arranged by the public health center.
Incidentally, as of September 20, 2022, those in Tokyo who test positive can have special transport arranged to collect you at your accommodation and bring you to a special lodging for recovery (as this is a public service, both transport and accommodation are free).
Whether such services are available and how much they cost depends on each municipality, so make sure you confirm in advance.
Japan has many disasters, however through past experience they have advanced manuals to deal with various situations. For medical care, the government is working to enhance the system to accept foreign patients. Make sure to prepare yourself with overseas travel insurance, and if in the case you fall ill or get injured due to a disaster, go to a medical institution before it gets worse.
*This article was originally written in July, 2019, and was reedited and updated in September, 2022.
*As information is constantly changing, we recommend always confirming the latest situation by yourself. Please note that we accept no liability for any damages caused by the content posted.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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