How to find a good health clinic in Japan

May 24th, 2012By Category: Uncategorized

How to find a good health clinic in Japan

There are fewer clinics and hospitals to choose from if you are not fluent in Japanese. But it is very important to know some characteristics of a good clinic. Here are some tips on how to find a good clinic:


Nowadays, the Internet is probably the most popular way to search for a clinic. A phone book is becoming something of the past. However, a simple search does not give you enough information on who’s good and who’s not. You can go to bulletin boards, chats, and blogs to find out other people’s opinions. But, can you trust them? Well, it’s difficult to say. Conclusion: use an Internet search for getting the basic information, but do not over-trust opinions and advertisements.

Word of Mouth

This is probably the most reliable information you can get. However, people have different views and experiences, so their experiences may not directly apply to you. It is a good starting point.


Professional referral is a very objective way to find a clinic. For example, you may ask your family physician for a good dentist, or vice versa. You can also find listings by local government and foreign embassies, such as through the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

Shop Around

It is absolutely fine to shop around. You will be more satisfied when you have a few options to choose from than when you only have one.

Second Opinion

Doctors should not mind you go to another clinic to get a second opinion. If a doctor does mind, you should probably change clinic. If a doctor is willing to let you get a second opinion, it is a sign of confidence and willingness to find what is best for you. There is a good chance you will come back to this doctor.

How to approach doctors

Doctors are only human, as are patients. There are easy patients and difficult patients. Treatments will go more smoothly if you have a good relationship with your health practitioner, and doctors need the space to be able to work — overly demanding patients don’t always get the best treatment. Doctors understand that it is not easy to be nice when you are sick and in pain, but there is no need to make things difficult for both you and your doctor. Most doctors do not work for money but are most happy when they know their patients appreciate their hard work. Just a simple thank-you note can make their hearts melt.

Informed Consent

It is very important that all the information you need is available before you make an important decision. Asking questions is your responsibility and you shouldn’t leave any questions unanswered. “I do not know” is not necessarily a bad answer from your doctor, because they are then being honest and are aware of their limitations. If a doctor demands an immediate decision from you regarding your treatment, then go to another clinic. It is not enough that you are informed, but you must understand before you consent to any treatments.


Communication: Communication is a very important factor in finding a clinic. Particularly when you are in a foreign country. Sometimes, clinic staff are fluent in English and can translate technical terms and delicate nuances to doctors. It is a good idea to bring your own translator. Even when a doctor can speak your own language, it may not be enough to establish good communication. A good translator can often fill the gaps. There are medical translation services that you can call from the clinic and they can help you translate over the phone, e.g.

Credentials: Do not be overly impressed by credentials. Doctors’ credentials are often difficult for patients to judge. Specialty credentials are good indicators on how proficient they are in a specific area. You can double check by going online to search medical societies. Many of these societies list their members.

Smile: If the staff members seem to be happy working in the clinic, it is probably a good clinic. If they are happy, there is a good chance that you will walk out of that clinic happy.

Hygiene: Cleanliness and hygiene is the easiest thing for you to check. If a clinic looks dirty and like the staff don’t pay attention to details, you can expect something similar in your treatment. Wearing gloves and masks are absolute musts.

Ads: Excessive advertising and campaigns may suggest that they are out to make money. A good clinic does not have to rely on advertisements.

Equipment: The latest technology is important. But if a small solo practice has state-of-the-art million dollar equipment, you should ask, “who is paying for this?”

Insurance: It is not one of the essential criteria for choosing a clinic, but it is worthy of consideration. Without medical and dental insurance, fees can be very expensive. It is advisable to purchase an insurance coverage, especially if you have children. Try to find a plan that covers major illness and accidents. High cost procedures should be covered first. Your premium goes up if you also want smaller items covered. For medical coverage, Japanese National Health insurance is a very good way to cover you and your family.

Author of this article

Being A Broad

Started in Tokyo in 1997 by Caroline Pover, Being A Broad has already helped thousands of women make the most of their lives in Japan through a monthly magazine, events and seminars, a number one best-selling book, and an active discussion board.

Related articles that may interest you