August 2019

Our monthly online newsletter,"L'ESPACE".
L'ESPACE is a diverse French word that means place,area,cosmos,and gap.

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Going to the hospital

If you’re sick or injured and going to the hospital, not knowing what Japanese hospitals are like can make you nervous. The following explains the procedure when visiting a hospital for the first time.

Choosing which hospital and department to visit

Small hospitals and Large hospitals

Some hospitals are large, and others are small.
For mild illnesses or injuries, visit a smaller hospital. Small hospitals are also called iin (doctor’s offices), shinryojo (medical offices), and kurinikku (clinics). You can also visit these facilities for advice about health concerns.

For a more detailed diagnosis, as well as when you need surgery or hospitalization, go to a large hospital. When visiting large hospitals, take a letter called a shokaijo (referral) with you.
A referral is a letter written by a doctor at another hospital requesting a doctor at a large hospital see you for diagnosis. It contains information about your illness or injury.
Before visiting a large hospital, visit a small hospital to get a referral from a doctor there. If you go to a large hospital without a referral, your treatment will be more expensive.

Contact consultation desks of Tokyo Metropolitan Government or your municipality

Choosing a clinical department

Check to see if you need to make an appointment

At small hospitals, appointments usually aren’t needed. Some hospitals require you to make an appointment in advance. Either call or check the hospital website to check.

Having a medical examination

Sign in

At the reception desk, say hajimete desu (it’s my first time) and give the receptionist your health insurance card.
You will be given a monshinhyo (medical questionnaire). A medical questionnaire is a sheet of paper for writing medical information such as your physical condition, past illnesses and injuries, and allergies.
After filling in the medical questionnaire, give it to the receptionist. Next, wait in the waiting room.

Have a medical examination

A Shinsatsu (medical examination) refers to a sick or injured person seeing a doctor. When the hospital staff call your name, enter the examination room.
The doctor will ask you questions and take a look at your body. The doctor will also perform tests and treatments you may need.
After your examination is over, return to the waiting room and wait.


Settling the bill (paying for services)

When the hospital staff call your name, you will be given you’re health insurance card, a patient registration card, and a shohosen (prescription: a piece of paper with information about the medicine you need written on it).
After you pay the bill, you will receive a ryoshusho (receipt: a piece of paper certifying payment).
Also make sure to check whether you need to make an appointment for saishin (returning for a follow-up examination).

Getting medicine

Go to a pharmacy and give the staff the prescription you received at the hospital.
Pay the bill and receive your medicine and a receipt.


Hold on to your receipts

Please do not throw away receipts from the hospital and pharmacy. For people who pay a lot of money at hospitals in a single month, some money may be refunded in some cases. People who pay more than 100,000 yen for hospital services in a single year may have their income tax reduced that year.

Things to be careful of when visiting hospitals

If you aren’t confident in your Japanese ability

If you don’t understand Japanese well, bring someone with you to the hospital who does. You can also look for hospitals with doctors and staff who speak foreign languages.


Webpages where you can find consultation services to ask for help when you are looking for a hospital where the staff understand foreign languages.

June 2019, Tips for Tokyo Life
“Consultation Services for Various Problems” Japanese version
June 2019, Tips for Tokyo Life
“Consultation Services for Various Problems” English version

This medical questionnaire is written in 18 languages. It will be useful for explaining your illness or injury to the doctor in your own language.

Multilingual Medical Questionnaire (International Community Hearty Konandai / Kanagawa International Foundation)

If there are special things you want the doctor to be careful of

If you want the doctor to be especially careful of certain things for religious or cultural reasons, tell the hospital staff before your examination.

Tokyo International Communication Committee

Ono Bldg. 3F, 17-15 Kandamatsunagacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-0023
TEL:03-5294-6542 FAX:03-5294-6540