Are there any potential health issues, threats or hazards in Kyoto I should know of?
There are no major health issues or threats to be worried about in Japan.
Tap water is safe to drink. It is best to have your medications with you, since many pharmacies do not sell foreign medicine. You will, however, standard cold and cough medicine, first aid items, and other typical drugstore inventory.
Are there any hospitals in Kyoto that deal with foreigners?
Some of Kyoto’s best hospitals include the Japan Baptist Hospital, Kyoto First Red Cross Hospital, Kyoto Second Red Cross Hospital, Kyoto Prefectural Medical University Hospital, Rakuwakai Marutamachi Hospital, Kyoto Takeda Hospital and Kyoto University Hospital.
These hospitals have some English speaking staff (can depend on the day), and some such as the Red Cross hospitals are international hospitals.
If you are looking for a dentist, Nakai Clinic and Makimura Clinic both have English speaking staff. In addition, Sakabe International Clinic is a smaller clinic recommended for minor symptoms.
Normal local hospitals and clinics will deal with foreigners but may have trouble communicating with you; it is recommended you try to visit one of the hospitals with English speaking staff or translators.
Smaller clinics usually have no English speaking staff, but most Japanese have very basic English proficiency.
If you needed surgery or medical treatment, the aforementioned hospitals will all be fine. Japanese hospitals are clean, organized, and customer service levels are high.
Note that larger hospitals may have longer wait times and some may not accept walk-ins, while smaller hospitals and clinics will have shorter waits.
If you have an emergency be sure to go to a 24 hour emergency hospital such as Kyoto University Hospital ER or Red Cross Hospitals.
What is the level of sanitation in Kyoto?
Kyoto (and the rest of Japan) is impeccably clean and sanitary.
Public restrooms are very clean (aside from super old ones in deep nature), stores and restaurants are overly obsessed with cleanliness, and Japanese streets are clean as well.
A tip is to carry some hand sanitizer with you and a handkerchief, since some restrooms may lack paper towels/blow dryer or soap.
The likelihood of diarrhea and food poisoning is very low, and food cleanliness standards are very high. Japan’s food poisoning rate (1 in 40,000) is far lower than that of comparable nations (U.S. is 1 in 6).
If you are still concerned about food safety, you may want to avoid street vender food and stick with restaurants, convenience stores, vending machines, cafes, and shops.
What is the cost of seeing a doctor/dentist in Kyoto?
Hospital fees are the same regardless of the patient’s country of origin.
The cost of seeing a doctor and receiving basic medicine is actually much more reasonable than in the U.S. or Australia, but surgeries and medical treatment can add up.
It is recommended you get travel insurance to cover these costs. Prices between hospitals and clinics are roughly the same.
Is medical insurance usable in Kyoto?
Medical insurance can get confusing to hospitals when patients use foreign insurance companies and cannot provide valid identification.
The best thing to do is to get travel insurance, which will not only cover healthcare and any medical costs but include lost/stolen/damaged baggage and possessions, hotel/plane ticket cancellation, dangerous activity coverage (if you mountain bike in Kyoto), and evacuation coverage.
Make sure you have a valid travel insurance card to present at clinics and hospitals.
Travel insurance plans such as ones offered by World Nomads will cost about 5% of your trip expenses (e.g. if your trip cost you $5000, expect to pay ~$250).
Clinics and hospitals will not turn you away as long as you have your valid travel insurance card.
If I have an emergency while I am in Kyoto, who can I ask for help?
The emergency phone number for Japan is 119 and the police is 110.
Since not all emergency operators speak English, you will be redirected to Interpretation Services (takes ~20 seconds) which are available in English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish and Portuguese.
Calmly tell them whether it is a medical emergency or a fire, the location you are at (preferably address but landmarks are fine), and your name and phone number).
If you are unable to call 119, stop a passersby and say “kaji desu (fire)” or “kyu kyu desu (medical).” They will call 119 and notify the type of emergency, location, and contact info to the operator. The police or fire department may call you back, so make sure you stay in the same location with your phone on.
Emergency calls are free and can be made at phone booths by pressing the red button or dialing 119 or 110.
If you are the victim of a car accident you must dial 110 (or have someone dial 110) to ensure you will get insurance claim payments.
Since this process can be tedious it is recommended you seek help from somebody nearby. Police may have interpretation services, and they will ask you the appropriate information they need.