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Like the rest of the world, Japan’s tourism was negatively affected. However, last October, Japan lifted its Covid restrictions alongside the rest of the world. Despite reaching around 500,000 foreign visitors that month alone, it was still a far cry from 2019, which saw 31.8 million foreign visitors.

Due to how strong the US Dollar is versus the Japanese Yen, it’s now the best time to travel to Japan and get the most out of your buck.

However, you might be interested in traveling to Japan, but due to your or your loved one’s health condition, which is why you’re hesitant to go. Don’t worry cause we’ve got you covered!

Japan landscape

Today, we will discuss how to overcome Japan’s language barrier in health care. Let’s get started right away!

Tourists Often Overlook Healthcare When Traveling

Unless you already have a pre-existing medical condition, not many people think about the health care they will receive when visiting another country. Often factors like whether you can access immediate medical attention or will language barriers in health care be a problem for you.

If you’re planning to travel to a remote area, immediate medical attention won’t be a viable option for you. Each country has some common or uniquely more prevalent illnesses in their region than other countries, Malaria and TB.

Because of this, some countries require travelers to update their vaccines before entering their country.

But if you’re in a developed country, like Japan, having access wouldn’t be much of a problem. The only other issue would be the language barriers to communication in health care, especially having a population low in English proficiency, and Japan is a good example of this.

Language Barriers are Affecting Japan’s Healthcare Industry

Even though translation services in Japanese may seem easier to obtain, there’s the issue of not being able to find a translator proficient in Japanese and your native language.

It’s significantly harder if you’re traveling to rural areas in Japan. For example, Hokkaido has a rating of 462 compared to Tokyo, which had a rating of 522, according to the EF English Proficiency Index.

It is problematic because it can negatively affect the patient’s treatment, which could be critical. Miscommunication in health care can be life-threatening in the worst-case scenarios as it could lead to misdiagnoses and wrong treatments.

Travel in Japan

How Japanese Translation is Bridging Barriers to Healthcare

Unlike other languages, Japanese consists of four alphabets: Kanji, Katakana, Romaji, and Hiragana. Another reason the Japanese language can be challenging to learn is that it follows a subject-object-verb (S-O-V) sentence structure, unlike the English language, which follows subject-verb-object (S-O-V). That’s why healthcare language barriers in Japan are a bit tricky to resolve.

Besides being fluent in both origin and target languages, Japanese translation services need to have a grasp of the health care systems and jargon of the patient and Japanese medical professional. The certified Japanese translators hired and assigned to the task must have a medical background and be accredited by local and international institutions. It ensures accuracy and no mistakes on a medical document, as it could cost someone’s life.

We have listed a couple of ways to proactively overcome language barriers in healthcare while staying in Japan.

1. Having Medical Documents Translated

If you have a pre-existing medical condition like asthma, allergies, or an autoimmune disorder, it’s always a good idea to carry translated medical documents in case of emergencies. Simply showing your Japanese-translated medical records to a medical professional will make it easier for them to treat you.

Suppose you don’t have a pre-existing medical condition. It’s good to keep your translated vaccine certificates. It’s so that doctors might need an idea of your medical history as they diagnose you.

2. Hire a Remote Japanese Medical Interpreter

The pandemic saw a rising demand for remote medical interpreters. You can always hire one online if there’s no Japanese medical interpreter available in the hospital you’re staying at.

We encourage you to use a Japanese medical interpreter and not an online translator, like Google Translate, because they’re often inaccurate, which is risky. Machine translators have been shown to mistranslate text due to lacking context and not being specialized to handle niched industries like medicine.

3. Learning Japanese Phrases

For this reason, it’s wise that before you visit a country, you know some phrases. Below, we have listed some Japanese phrases when you need medical attention.

  • If you want to tell someone you’re sick:
    Guai ga warui desu.
    (I don’t feel well.)
  • If you’re having a headache:
    Atama ga itai desu.
    (I have a headache.)
  • If you need to go to the hospital:
    Byouin wa doko desu ka
    (Where is the hospital?)
  • If you need to go to the drugstore:
    Doragu sutoa wa doko desu ka?
    (Where is the drug store?)
  • If you want to inform a medical professional that you have insurance:
    Kore wa watashi no hoken ni haitte imasu ka?
    (Is this covered by my insurance?)

4. Using Multilingual Telemedicine

Lastly, there are multilingual telemedicine platforms that can aid you in finding a medical interpreter. It can also make interacting with your Japanese medical professional much easier and faster.

Not only that, but you have more access to medical services even if you’re staying somewhere remote in Japan. Also, you can get medical attention immediately compared to physically going to the hospital.


Traveling to Japan is an exciting and unique experience that we encourage everyone should try going to if they have the chance. With its beautiful sights, fascinating cultural activities, and delicious cuisines, we guarantee you’ll have a great time.

It’s no wonder that many consider Japan one of their lifelong dream destinations. But if you ever felt apprehensive about doing so due to your medical condition and the language barriers in healthcare, we hope this article could ease some of your concerns. Everyone deserves to travel with ease, knowing that if they need immediate medical attention, they’re prepared how to handle it.

Easy Travel Recipes

Author Easy Travel Recipes

Easy Travel Recipes provides simple travelling guides and cooking tips for the couple to enhance their honeymoon experiences.

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