Good Quality Emergency Healthcare While Traveling In Japan!


Sometimes things don’t go as planned and somehow I managed to fall on my knees while crossing a street in Hiroshima a month ago. Basically I lost my balance.

Hiroshima Accident

It was evening and I was walking back to the Sheraton after having traditional okonomiyaki dinner at a place that has a number of vendors selling this Hiroshima delicacy. It was supposed to be a nice five kilometer walk to/from the hotel.

Okonomiyaki Hiroshima

I would have never guessed that something could go wrong. So, I just fell and hit both of knees into the pavement. There was lots of pain at first but was able to walk back to hotel just fine. I thought that everything would be okay.

Went to sleep and woke up a couple of hours later and was hardly able to move my feet because of the pain involved. It didn’t get much better in the morning and decided that it was worth going to see a doctor to have it checked out.

Hiroshima Clinic

I spoke with a concierge who was non-Japanese but spoke the language fluently. He made an appointment to a clinic nearby and I took a cab there.


So, I first saw a doctor and decided that it was worth taking the x-rays. Had them done and saw the doctor again. There was nothing showing on the x-rays and decided that it was worth doing the MRI to make sure that everything was fine.


This was my first time having an MRI. They were playing Vivaldi and Jean Sibelius’ Finlandia (hadn’t requested it) while the machine was doing it’s work. Good that I decided to have the MRI. It showed that I had bone bruise and a small fracture.

I had to extend my stay in Hiroshima by a few days (the Sheraton did this without any issues) and had a follow up with the doctor couple of days later. We decided that I would have a further follow up in Bangkok and he wrote the diagnosis and I picked up the CD-ROM with images day later.

And you may ask how much did this all cost?


The Japanese government sets the maximum price that can be charged by healthcare providers. The local insurance covers 70% of this and 30% is paid by the individual.

So, the price of the three visits, x-rays and the MRI plus the medication was 28,060 yen, that is $246 USD. Really reasonable even paying out of the pocket.


I still cannot understand how I managed to lose my balance after the dinner during which I had only one beer. I could have understood it had it been after a night out drinking that might have altered a sense of balance but that wasn’t the case.

So, using healthcare services in Japan won’t break the bank. The MRI alone from the follow up the other week at the BNH in Bangkok was pricier than the entire ordeal in Hiroshima, although still reasonable. Had another follow up yesterday and all was good. Almost back to 100%.

I have used various health services during my travels and this was my very first time in Japan and couldn’t be more satisfied. I still cannot understand how efficient and affordable the entire case was.

This was my second time in Hiroshima and need to come back next year when the atomic bomb museum refurbishment has been completed. I also visited Nagasaki during this trip too where the Americas dropped the second A-Bomb. That city is definitely worth a visit too.

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  • John

    So, Japan doesn’t have resident and non-resident pricing for medical services? Given how much you travel, would it make sense to purchase an annual travel insurance policy?

    • I have had several plans over the years. Bit difficult to find one that covers extensive trips such as mine. Traditional insurance may cover trips for up to 60 or 90 days at a time. I don’t return to my legal home more than twice/three times a year.

      I used to have travel insurance that covered trips over 90 days too. Eventually after several years they kicked me out of the plan.

  • sam

    Did the clinic have English speaking staff?

    • Joseph Kelsall

      No. Just English principles of healthcare! It’s mostly available in democracies.

      • sam

        I didn’t realize the Japanese also underpay and overwork healthcare providers.

    • Actually the doctor with whom I dealt with spoke understandable English. They had other English speaking employees that were able to assist me too.

      • sam

        Thanks John. I was worried abut this when I took I’ll and went to an “American clinic” near the Embassy in Tokyo. It was great, but expensive. It’s nice to know there are economical options for those of us who are weak on language skills. thank you as always for sharing.

        • Sometimes I ask for a local clinic that employees are or would be using instead of some SOS intended for expats.

  • cscasi

    Do you have healthcare here in the USA? If so, does it cover any medical expenses when you travel overseas and need medical? I forget where you park your hat. 😉

    • I don’t live in the United States, although I have in the past when I went to grad school there and some time after.

  • Sandesh

    So, does the amount you paid represent 30%? If so, why would the local insurance company cover the rest? Do you have a separate Japanese health insurance?

    • Japanese health insurance covers the 70%. I don’t live in Japan and thus paid this out of my own pocket.

      • cscasi

        So, you do not have a healthcare plan where you live that covers you when you travel overseas? Mine covers something like 60% of reasonable and customary because when overseas everything is “out of network”. However, I normally carry travel insurance when we fly overseas on vacation.

        • “Healthcare” is included for everyone (universal) + within the EU. As I pointed out above, my travel insurer kick me out of the plan and need to find a new one at some point in time. I have no issues paying something like this out of the pocket.

  • John Poon

    Who else wishes it was Sebastian who fell? I hope he’s next.

  • M L

    good to know you are 42.

    • Had a birthday yesterday!

      • Stefan_In_Vienna

        Better late than never, happy birthday belatedly

  • Gary

    Glad you’re on the mend.

    • Glad you feel better.

  • I feel like it’s gambling without travel insurance. You’re fucked if you get health issues or have a road accident.