I’m Sick!: Top 10 Japanese Phrases to Use at the Hospital :When traveling or living in a foreign country, there is always the possibility of needing to go to the hospital for some ailment or another.

Seeing a doctor who doesn’t speak your native language, however, is nothing to be worried about, as they receive the same amount of rigorous schooling and have to abide by the same standards as the doctors in your home country. When it comes to personal health it is always better to be safe than sorry. In the case that you do need to visit the hospital while in Japan, we are giving you the top 10 most useful phrases to help you through the experience.    

具合が悪いですGuai ga warui desuI don’t feel well.
これは私の保険に入っていますか?Kore wa watashi no
hoken ni haitte imasu ka?
Is this covered by my insurance?
頭が痛いですAtama ga itai desu.I have a headache.
お腹が痛いですO-naka ga itai desu. I have a stomachache.
風邪を引いていますInfuruenza ni kakatte imasu. I have the flu.
骨を折りましたhone wo orimashita.I have a broken bone
症状は____間続いていますShōjō wa isshuu-kan tsuzuite imasu. I have been experiencing
these symptoms for a week.
私はペニシリンアレルギーがありますWatashi wa penishirin arerugii ga arimasu.I have an allergy to penicillin.
薬局はどこですか?Toire wa doko desu ka?Where is the bathroom?
一日何回飲みますか?Ichi-nichi nan-kai nomimasu ka?How many times per day
do I take this medicine?

Before we begin, it’s important to note that in Japan, the word byōin (hospital) is used in a broad sense. Whether it’s a big hospital with an emergency room or a small clinic for a routine checkup, they are all referred to as byōin. Therefore, if you have a slight cold and someone asks if you need to go to the hospital, it’s not because they think you have a medical emergency. They are most likely just referring to a clinic.

Below, we are providing the romanized alphabet version of the phrases for those who have difficulty reading kanji, and also the Japanese version to show the doctor or nurses when needed.    

Top 10 Japanese Phrases to Use at the Hospital

1. Guai ga warui desu

Japanese: 具合が悪いです

Let’s start with the most basic. You wake up in the morning and don’t feel well. You have a headache, your stomach hurts, you feel a little nauseated, maybe even dizzy. You just don’t feel right, and you think it’s best to see a doctor. When you arrive and the receptionist asks you what’s wrong, you can simply say: 

Guai ga warui desu. (I don’t feel well.) 

You may know that the word for “sick” in Japanese is “byōki,” but if you say that you are byōki then the doctors will most likely interpret that as a major illness. Therefore, if you just don’t feel well, it’s best to say, “Guai ga warui desu.” 

2. Kore wa watashi no hoken ni haitte imasu ka?

Japanese: これは私の保険に入っていますか?

This phrase may be new to you, but we’ve put this as #2 because insurance coverage is one of the most important discussions you’ll have when being treated at a hospital.

For those residing in Japan, likely you are already enrolled in the national health insurance program. However, those that are not enrolled, such as travelers, will need to find out if their insurance covers the treatment that they are about to receive. In this situation, pull out your insurance card, present it to the receptionist, and say:

Kore wa watashi no hoken ni haitte imasu ka? (Is this covered by my insurance?)

In the unfortunate circumstance that your insurance does not cover the treatment, you can then ask, “Iryō wa ikura desu ka? (医療はいくらですか?)” This means, “How much will the treatment cost?”

3. Atama ga itai desu

Japanese: 頭が痛いです

Now, let’s get into describing ailments. 

This is the phrase used to describe having a headache:

Atama ga itai desu. (I have a headache.)

The word “atama” means “head,” and “itai” means “hurt.” Therefore, translated literally, the phrase means, “My head hurts.” 

4. O-naka ga itai desu

Japanese: お腹が痛いです

Here is another phrase involving the word “itai.” In this situation, it is our “o-naka” (stomach) that hurts. 

O-naka ga itai desu. (I have a stomachache.)

If anything else on your body is in pain, you can use the same “itai” phrase by substituting “o-naka” with the part of your body that hurts. 

  • -Ashi (leg/foot)
  • -Senaka (back)
  • -Kubi (neck) 

5. Kaze wo hiite imasu

Japanese: 風邪を引いています

Sometimes when you go to the doctor, you have a pretty good idea of what the problem is. The above phrase means, “I have a cold.” 

If you think you have the flu, the phrase is different. 

Infuruenza ni kakatte imasu. (I have the flu.) 

Japanese: インフルエンザにかかっています

6. Hone o orimashita

Japanese: 骨を折りました

This one means, “I have a broken bone.” Here are some examples of broken body parts to substitute for “hone” (bone):

  • -Ashi (leg)
  • -Ude (arm)
  • Hana (nose)
  • Yubi (finger)
  • Ashi-kubi (ankle)
  • Te-kubi (wrist)

7. Shōjō wa ____ -kan tsuzuite imasu

Japanese: 症状は____間続いています

Most likely the doctor will ask you how long you’ve been experiencing symptoms. The word “shōjō” means “symptoms” and “tsuzuite imasu” means literally “continues.” The “-kan” is used to indicate a length of time. Therefore, if you want to say, “I have had these symptoms for a week,” you would fill in the blank like so:

Shōjō wa isshuu-kan tsuzuite imasu. (I have been experiencing these symptoms for a week.) 

If the symptoms started two days ago, you would say:

Shōjō wa futsu-ka-kan tsuzuite imasu. 

8. Watashi wa ____ arerugii ga arimasu

Japanese: 私は____アレルギーがあります

It’s also important to convey whether you have any allergies to certain medicines. The receptionist, doctor, or pharmacist will also ask you this before they issue your prescription (if one is needed). The word “allergy” is basically the same in Japanese, except it is modified to fit the Japanese pronunciation of English words. Therefore, “allergy” becomes “arerugii” with the G pronounced as a G and not a J sound. Luckily for English speakers, a lot of the medicines and medical terms are referred to by their English names. Therefore, if you want to say, “I have an allergy to penicillin,” you would fill in the blank of the phrase like this:

Watashi wa penishirin arerugii ga arimasu. (I have an allergy to penicillin.)

The doctor might also ask you if you have any history of family illness as well. In this case, your response would follow the same “~ga arimasu” pattern. For example, if your family has a history of cancer, the Japanese word for “cancer” is “gan” and “family history” is “kazoku-reki.” 

Watashi wa gan no kazoku-reki ga arimasu. (I have a family history of cancer.)

9. Yakkyoku wa doko desu ka?

Japanese: 薬局はどこですか?

Pharmacies are usually separate from doctor’s offices in Japan, so you may have to go to a completely different building to get your prescription. In case you get lost, you can use the standard phrase, “~wa doko desu ka? (Where is ~?).” 

This phrase can also come in handy for any situation where you don’t know where something is and want to ask someone. In the above phrase, “yakkyoku” means “pharmacy.” However, let’s say you want to use the restroom. 

Toire wa doko desu ka? (Where is the bathroom?)

10. Ichi-nichi nan-kai nomimasu ka?

Japanese: 一日何回飲みますか?

This is a phrase for when you receive your prescription at the end of your doctor’s visit. You want to make sure how many times you need to take your medicine per day.

Ichi-nichi nan-kai nomimasu ka? (How many times per day do I take this medicine?)

Also, if you want to know exactly how many pills to swallow with each dosage, you say this:

I-kai, nan-jō nomimasu ka? (How many pills do I take at one time?)

Japanese: 一回何錠飲みますか?

The counter “-” means “tablet” in this case, and “nan-jo” means “How many tablets?” Take note that if you say “pill” instead of “-” they may mistake you for meaning a birth contraceptive, which is another article altogether… 

So there you have it! Next time you are in Japan and need to make a visit to the doctor’s office, you can feel a little more at ease knowing that you have these top 10 phrases to help you out. Good luck, and stay healthy (and insured)!

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