If you are unwell and visit a medical care provider for treatment, be sure to take your health insurance card with you.
It is very common in Japan that patients visit their local doctor's office or clinic to receive an initial consultation. If patients need advanced treatments, such as a specialized examination or operation, the local doctor will recommend that patients go to a hospital. After making an appointment with the hospital through their local doctor, they will then go to the hospital with a referral letter issued by their local doctor.
Large-scale hospitals which have more than 200 beds for hospitalized patients (e.g. Kyoto University Hospital) also accept patients without the referral letter and/or appointments. Be aware, however, that an additional fee of between 100 yen and 6,000 yen is charged for patients without the referral letter (5,500 yen in case of Kyoto University Hospital), and that there can be a long waiting time for consultation without an appointment.
Office hours for most medical care providers in Japan are limited to weekdays and Saturday mornings. Designated hospitals provide medical treatments at night and on Sundays and national holidays. Many Japanese medical care providers do not require appointments (although large-scale hospitals and dental clinics usually do).
Lists of emergency hospitals, local doctor's office, medical care providers with foreign language speaking staff, and a medical handbook are available on the websites listed below.
- Kyoto City International Foundation (external link)
- Center for Multicultural Society Kyoto (external link)
- Kyoto Kenko Iryo Yorozu Netto (external link)
Medical interpreter dispatch system
A free medical interpreter dispatch system for non-Japanese speakers who live in Kyoto is available at four designated hospitals in Kyoto City: Kyoto City Hospital (external link), Ijinkai Takeda Hospital (external link), Koseikai Takeda Hospital (external link), Kyoto Katsura Hospital (external link). To make use of the system, appointments must be made at each hospital in advance. For details including available languages and times of service, please refer to the Center for Multicultural Society Kyoto website (external link).
In general, the medical interpretation service is not available over the telephone.
M-Cube Multilingual Medical Questionnaire System
The Center for Multicultural Society Kyoto (external link) provides a translation application for your computer and/or smart phone, which helps you describe your symptoms (available in Japanese, Chinese, English, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and other languages). For details, please refer to their website.
M-Cube: Computer-Mediated Multilingual Medical Communication Support System
Computerized multilingual medical support (in Japanese, Chinese, English, Korean, Portuguese, and Indonesian) is available at the reception desks of Kyoto City Hospital and Kyoto University Hospital. By means of a questionnaire, the system helps users receive appropriate medical treatment and also provides directions to medical facilities and assistance with reception procedures.