Every Wednesday, from 8.30am to 10.30am, the Health Centre in the ward where I am staying provides health examination services. As I was applying for a homestay in Ishikawa Prefecture, I needed a health examination as part of the application.
Before I visited the Health Centre, I had first approached the Medical Centre in my university upon the advice of my neighbour. The health examination that I needed was the usual one covering the standard checks for height, weight, eyesight and blood pressure, as well as lungs x-ray and urinanalysis. The university could provide such a health examination at a subsidised fee - 1500 Yen (SGD 24). Unfortunately, I was not entitled to this service because I am an exchange student. The Medical Officer recommended that I visit a hospital and suggested one that provides the cheapest fee for health examination, at about 5300 Yen (SGD 85).
|The building on the left is the Health Centre. |
The white building next to it is the ward office. where all foreigners who will beresiding in Japan for more than 90 days have to register for their residence card.
I spoke to a few more people and gathered that the Health Centre in the ward provides such services at an even more affordable rate. So after confirming the details over the phone, I dropped by at the Health Centre early on Wednesday morning. A prior appointment was not necessary. At the Health Centre, there was a counter that handled health examination. I went there, filled up some forms and was then shown to an area to wait for my turn. I thought the Health Centre felt like a cross between Singapore's Health Promotion Board and a Polyclinic.
"You are very thin!" said the nurse who took my height and weight. I realised I lost 5 kilos! I replied that I had lost weight since coming to Japan. She said it must be the stress of a new environment. I thought it could probably be due to all the cycling. It was nice to be able to make small talk in Japanese. But when she started to question me about medical history, I was totally lost in all the difficult medical terms. So she searched a drawer and took out a list of questions she had to ask, all translated into English.
|Price list for the different tests as part of the health exam. I paid for the health cert |
which costs 1800 Yen, urine test which costs 200 Yen and the x-ray result.
Next, it was time for the session with the doctor. I was nervous and wondered how it would go with my broken Japanese and limited knowledge of medical-related vocabulary. I had my mobile phone ready so that I could use the dictionary application. "Could you understand Japanese?" asked the doctor. I wanted to tell him that I would love to practise Japanese with him, since I still had not made any Japanese friend whom I could practise Japanese with. But I thought better of it and said weakly, "Er, alittle..." Then he got all excited and asked me in Mandarin if I could speak Mandarin. And then I got all excited as well to be able to speak Mandarin with him. The consultation with the Japanese doctor who spoke Beijing-accented Mandarin went smoothly afterall. I was told that my blood pressure was normal. Good to know.
The health examination ended in about 30 minutes as there was no queue. I would have to return in a week's time to get the report. There is no such thing as expediting a medical report. And oh, I paid 2300 Yen for the health examination in total. Glad that I did not have to pay more just because I am a foreigner.