Illnesses are never fun, and with a fever or sore throat, communicating in a foreign language adds unneeded stress. When I first moved to Japan, I remember constantly falling sick with tonsillitis. Seven times in one year! And each time, I would simply point to my throat and pray the doctor understood. Eventually, those many trips to the clinic paid off, and I set the groundwork for my medical Japanese lingo.
But what if I had found an English speaking doctor? I imagine now that I wouldn’t have been so anxious each time I entered a clinic, or maybe my illnesses wouldn’t have recurred so often with proper communication. When I moved to the west side of Tokyo, hay fever was taking its toll on me, and I had to search for a doctor in my new area. With great luck, I found a bilingual doctor, Dr. Joe Kurosu at Primary Care Tokyo in Shimokitazawa. Born and raised in Japan, and with medical degrees from Stanford and Yale, Dr. Kurosu blends the best of Japanese and Western medical practices to provide excellent care for his patients. And the best part, there is communication about ailments without confusion.
Primary Care Tokyo provides many services, including vaccinations, school and work physicals, X-rays, STD testing, pap smears, and more that can be found on their website. The clinic accepts the Japanese National Health Insurance (NHI), as well as pay-for-service basis in case travelers from abroad come to Tokyo without global insurance.
After your visit to Primary Care Tokyo, there is a pharmacy on the first floor, just outside of the building, where you can fill your prescription. Although the pharmacists are not bilingual like the clinic, any information needed has already been translated and printed for their many foreign visitors.
If you are not ill enough for the doctor, but might need medicine from a drugstore, the clinic also provides an Over the Counter guidebook on there website here. If you are traveling to Japan and happen to get sick, look for a shop with a “薬” (kusuri) sign, meaning medicine. Here are some simple keywords to use at the drugstore, where the pharmacist can help you choose which medicine you need:
- a cold, kaze
- hay fever, kafunsho
- fever, netsu
- stuffy nose, hanatsumari
- runny nose, hanamizu
- cough, seki
After your ailments have healed, you can enjoy the rest of your time exploring Japan.