Find Out Which Clinic You Should Go To in Japan When You’re Feeling Under the Weather
There are different types of clinics based on your symptoms.
Getting sick can get really difficult, especially if you live in a foreign country. You might not know it, but in Japan, it is actually hard to find a general practitioner to tend to your illness. There are also so many specialists to choose from. There’s even one just for allergies!
With the number of clinics all over Japan, how would you know which one to go to? Here, we have listed down the most common types of clinics to visit in Japan.
You may be coughing, but are you getting the correct medicine?
Try the Naika (Internal Medicine) for the most common sicknesses like coughs and colds.
Naika encompasses the diagnosis of digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular, and basically all other internal organs. All the treatments done here despite dealing with internal organs, is non-surgical and mostly uses medicine. For most Japanese people, if they don’t know what is wrong with them, they generally consult with a naika first.
If Naika doesn’t work, try a more specialized clinic.
Sometimes, a second opinion is important. If a visit to the local naika doesn’t work for you, try these following clinics depending on your symptoms:
Ganka for anything eye-related (Opthalmology)
For general eye problems, visit your local ganka. Take note that eye doctors in Japan do not prescribe eyeglasses. You would need to go to an eyeglasses (megane) shop and have your eyesight measured to get a pair.
Hifuka for anything skin and hair-related (Dermatology)
From zits to allergies, hifuka can diagnose and treat skin and hair problems.
Jibika for anything related to the ears, nose, (and throat) (Otolaryngology)
Sometimes, cold symptoms need a more centralized medicine. In this case, try to go to a jibika. Spring in Japan usually means pollen allergies (hay fever). During those months, jibika clinics can get quite crowded, so please go there early!
Shika for teeth problems. (Dentistry)
For cavities, teeth cleaning, and the like, go to your local shika. But for teeth realignment (orthodontics), that depends on the clinic you visit. In Japan, most dental clinics, especially small ones, do not do orthodontics. Some dental operations do not fall under the health insurance system, so you would have to pay full price for some of them.
For physical injuries, it is best to go to Geka (General Surgery).
While hopefully none of us would require this, if you require surgery or a needed evaluation, this is where you would go (or would be referred to). In most cases, clinics would refer you to a specific one.
Other common specialists also include:
(San) Fujinka for anything related to the female reproductive system (Obstetrics and Gynecology)
Fujinka handles everything from period problems to birth control to pregnancy. You may sometimes see the name as sanfujinka, which specifically handles pregnancy; other clinics are called ladies’ clinic, which handles everything but pregnancy. Another important thing to note is that a majority of the doctors in Japan are male, so if you prefer a female doctor, it would be wise to ask first.
Seikei-geka for anything related to muscles and bones (Orthopedics)
Sprained your ankle or dislocated your shoulder? Go to a seikei-geka. Another similar clinic called seikotsu-in (osteopathic/chiropractic clinic) is available. The health insurance discount depends on the clinic so remember to ask first!
It’s cheaper to go to the clinic instead of self-diagnosing yourself.
While most of us will consult our favorite search engines regarding our bodily issues and buy medicine from common drugstores, sometimes, it is actually wiser—and cheaper—to simply go to the clinic. Have a proper diagnosis, and buy the medicine issued to you. One of the perks of being part of the health insurance system in Japan is that you can get a discount for your diagnosis as well as the medicine that you get from the pharmacy. (You cannot use your health insurance when buying medicine from common drugstores.)
Are appointments necessary?
In Japan, most small clinics generally do not require an appointment, but they do have opening hours (mostly divided into morning and afternoon; lunchtime is usually closed if the number of people who operate them is small). To get to bigger hospitals, a recommendation letter from a clinic would sometimes be required, but that’s about it.
To be honest, the best-case scenario is to not have to go to a clinic at all. However, it is always best to be prepared and know exactly where to go!
(15 May 2019)