We encourage you to have complete physical and dental examinations before traveling abroad. Depending on your itinerary, your personal risk factors, and the length of your stay, your family doctor may offer you vaccinations against hepatitis B, tick-borne encephalitis, influenza, or Japanese encephalitis. Review and update routine immunizations as needed.
If you wear glasses or contact lenses, take an extra pair along with a copy of your prescription in case your eyewear becomes lost or damaged. There are several English-speaking doctors and hospitals in Tokyo if you require medical treatment while in Japan.
These medical service information providers may be able to answer your questions about English-speaking hospitals, medical facilities, and prescription medication.
Tokyo Medical English Language Information Center (Tel: 03-5285-8181) Mon–Sun 9 am–8 pm/20:00
International Medical Information Center (Tel: 03-5285-8088) Mon–Fri 9 am–5 pm/17:00
If you take prescription medicine regularly, bring enough of a supply to last you for your entire stay. That medicine may not be available in Japan, or it may be very expensive.
Although most medication and health-related supplies are available in Japan, it’s a good idea to pack a small medical kit to take with you. Consider taking: aspirin (or anti-inflammatory), antihistamine, kaolin preparation, antiseptic, calamine lotion, band-aids, insect repellent, sun block cream or suntan lotion, and lip balm. If you are currently taking prescription medication:
- Make sure to bring an ample supply with you for the duration of the program.
- Have your physician write a note explaining your prescription.
- Bring a photocopy of the generic name of the drug in case you are questioned while traveling or by a customs agent upon entering Japan. If you are stopped at customs, you will need to prove the legality of the drugs with a signed prescription by your doctor.
For more on bringing prescription medication into Japan, see Importing Medicines for Personal Use (US Embassy). If you have a special medical condition that others should know about (diabetes, penicillin allergy, epilepsy, etc.), get a medic alert bracelet so that this condition will be known in an emergency.
If you have a pre-existing condition that may affect your stay (serious illness or health problem), you must notify KCP when filling out your application. You may be required to have a complete physical exam and have a doctor write a summary of your condition. You will not be disqualified for participation in this program unless it is determined that the study abroad experience could be a serious risk to your well being.
Inoculations are not required when traveling to Japan from the United States. However, if you are traveling to Japan from another country, check with the nearest Japanese Consulate for requirements. If you get sick or hurt, please talk to your host family or your student coordinator immediately.
If needed, the student coordinators will introduce you to a local doctor. If you are allergic to any medication, please make sure to tell the doctor. You must make a cash payment to the doctor or hospital. If you apply for insurance reimbursement, you will need a certificate from the doctor. This certificate usually costs around ¥3,000 to ¥ 5,000. The cost of the certificate could be more than the total bill, so it may be more economical to pay the bill directly and get reimbursed by your own insurance company after returning to your home country. You will need to get a doctor’s letter only if your medical charges exceed ¥ 30,000.
If you have a learning disability, you need to inform KCP as soon as possible and provide us with proper descriptive documents from a doctor or teacher so that we can best assist you.
As a supplement to your own health insurance, KCP provides students with minor medical and accident coverage that begins the day after arrival in Japan and lasts through the last day of the program. However, KCP coverage is designed as a “top up” policy only. Students must be insured through another insurance policy while in Japan or while on any independent travel excursion. It is your responsibility to secure additional coverage before departing for Japan. These items are included in the KCP coverage:
|Medical expense for accidents||¥ 550,000|
|Death by accident||¥ 3,000,000|
|Medical expense for sickness||¥ 530,000|
|Death by sickness||¥ 3,000,000|
Amounts are for current coverage as of August 2007, and are subject to change without notice. If you need to use this insurance, please contact your student coordinator for more details. The KCP plan does not cover major medical, and exclusions includes: (1) dental disease; (2) pregnancy, childbirth, premature birth, or miscarriage; (3) any pre-existing condition.
Make sure your existing plan will cover you while abroad. Read through the insurance policy thoroughly to make sure you understand your plan’s limitations. Students who visit a doctor while in Japan may have to pay out-of-pocket fees. Students planning to attend KCP longer than one term and who will therefore be obtaining a long-term visa will participate in National Health Insurance. These students will be responsible for any charges to join and maintain National Health Insurance coverage. Students who do not have health insurance or who wish to purchase additional insurance may find the following information useful:
CISI—Cultural Insurance Services International
Basic Health Precautions
Tap water is safe and pure throughout Japan. Many people do drink bottled water because they prefer the taste, or for convenience.We advise you not to get tattoos or piercings while you are abroad. Some piercing and tattoo studios may not use proper sterilization techniques—it’s hard to tell. The AIDS situation is similar to that of the U.S.—AIDS is a worldwide epidemic. The virus is most commonly transmitted through sexual relations with an infected person.
Other means of contracting the virus are sharing needles, exposure to infected medical instruments, or bad blood transfusions. If you are sexually active, take precautions against AIDS as you would in the U.S. For more, click here.
Since you never know how well your body may adjust to new eating and drinking habits, bring along some anti-diarrhea medication. (Check with your doctor.) For government travel advisories, read the bulletin board regularly at the KCP office. You can also visit the U.S. State Department website .
Some recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
- Wash hands often with soap and water.
- Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers, walk and drive defensively. (This is especially true in a country like Japan where people drive on the left side of the road.) Avoid travel at night if possible and always use seat belts.
- To reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, always use latex condoms.
- Don’t eat or drink dairy products unless you know they have been pasteurized.