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Japanese Phrases To Use When You're Sick Or In The Hospital

Japanese Phrases To Use When You're Sick Or In The Hospital

Translated by Jay Issei Karslake

Written by Mayo Nomura

2017.10.13 Bookmark

If during your trip to Japan you are feeling ill and it is not a medical emergency, these helpful expressions will enable you to explain your symptoms to a doctor, nurse or drugstore staff quickly and easily.

Use Japanese to Properly Tell People Your Symptoms

Just in case you get sick while in Japan, today let’s study some convenient words and expressions that you can use at hospitals or in drugstores. If you know what to say, you can avoid some unnecessary troubles and easily convey your symptoms to the Japanese staff.
If you have a medical emergency, however, proceed directly to the nearest hospital, koban (police box), or call for an ambulance. Dial 110 for the police and 119 for an ambulance. These lines offer simultaneous interpretation, which allows for three-way conversations in English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish and Portuguese.

*For the pronunciation of words in the squared brackets, please refer toBasic Information about Japanese Pronunciation and Polite Speech.

Read also:

Basic Information about Japanese Pronunciation and Polite Speech
Basic Japanese Phrases You Can Use While In Japan!
Ask For Directions In Japanese! 14 Phrases You Need To Know
Thank You! 7 Japanese Phrases To Express Your Gratitude
14 Japanese Phrases To Use When You Run Into Trouble

First, Tell Those Around You What’s Wrong

1. Guai ga warui desu/I don’t feel well

[guaiga warui des]

This expression is best used when you find yourself suddenly feeling unwell. If you feel that you need to take a short break and are looking for a place to sit down, use this phrase and ask those around you for assistance.

* A Common Mistake:
If you say, " i'm sick" (Watashi wa byoki desu) in Japanese, it will most often be interpreted to mean that you have chronic illness, rather than meaning that you are feeling ill at that moment. When you are temporarily unwell, use ‘Guai ga warui desu’ instead.

Going to a Hospital or Drugstore


Souvenirs from Japanese Drugstores

2. Doragu sutoa wa doko desu ka?/Where is the drug store?

[dorack stoawa doko deska]

◯◯wa doko desu ka? [◯◯wa doko deska] is an expression used when asking where something is.

Doragu sutoa [dorack stoa] (Drugstore in phonetic Japanese) is a small supermarket-like store that is common in urban areas where you can buy over-the-counter drugs, cosmetics, food, and more.

Pharmacies are different from drugstores in that they are a place that mainly handles medicine that was prescribed from hospitals or clinics. Drugstores have a wider variety of non-prescription medicine.

If you are only feeling mildly ill and think you will get better without needing to go to the hospital, then the over-the-counter medicine available at the drugstore may do just the trick for you. If it's a light illness where you feel like you'll get better without going to the hospital, how about buying and trying over-the-counter medicine from a drugstore?

◯◯wa doko deska? [◯◯wa doko deska] other examples

* Otearai [ote arai] wa doko desu ka?/Where is the washroom?
*Toire [toire] (toilet) is understood as well.

* Byouin wa doko desu ka?/Where is the hospital?
[byo:in] wa doko deska?
If you bought an International Travel Insurance and are coming to Japan by yourself, be sure to contact your insurance company before going to any hospitals. Your insurance provider may have a list of hospitals with English assistance available or other helpful information on what procedures to follow, as well as paperwork that you may need to provide in advance before visiting any medical facilities.

Explaining Symptoms

3. Atama ga itai desu/I have a headache, My head hurts

[atamaga itai des]

An expression to explain where hurts, ◯◯ga itai desu [◯◯ga itai des].

If the pain is very strong, you can add stress by saying: totemo[totemo]
and say, ◯◯ga totemo itai desu[◯◯ga totemo itai des].


* Nodo ga totemo itai desu/ My throat really hurts
[nodoga totemo itai des]

* Onaka ga totemo itai desu/My stomach really hurts
[onaka ga totemo itai des]

* Ha ga totemo itai desu/My tooth really hurts
[ha ga totemo itai des]

4. Kaze desu, Netsu desu/I Have a Cold, I Have a Fever

[kaze des][netsu des]

When your body temperature is over 37°C (98.6°F), tell them: Netsu desu [netsu des].

*[tsu]: the sound at the end of words like cats and boots.

*A common mistake:

Netsuga takai desu [netsuga takai des] (I have a high fever) is an expression not to be used when you have a slight fever. It's usually used when you have a fever of over 38°C (100.4°F) and this may be considered a medical emergency.

5. Hana ga demasu/My Nose is Running

[hanaga demas]

When your nose is running you can simply say, hanamizu [hanamizu] and it'll be understood. It's funny.
When you have a cold and stuffy nose say,

Hana ga tsumarimasu/My nose is stuffed up
[hanaga tsumarimas]

The verb demasu [demas] is used not just for runny noses, but for the symptoms below too.
* Seki ga demasu/I have a cough
[sekiga demas]

* Kushami ga demasu/I’m sneezing
[kushamiga demas]

When Your Stomach Hurts

6. Geri desu/I Have Diarrhea

[geri des]

Combine this with onakaga itai desu [onakaga itai des] .

When you have been vomiting, say hakimashita [hakimashta] (I threw up).

7. Seiritsu desu/I Have Cramps (Period)

[se:ri tsu: des]

When you have your period, it is referred to as seri [se:ri] in Japanese.

Onakaga itai desu. Seiri desu.
[onakaga itai des] [se:ri des]

is also easily understood too.

Period related goods such as napukin [napkin] (sanitary napkins, also known as pads) and tampon[tampon] are available in Japan, but tampons are not that common or sold in many shops. Famous brands from abroad are not available and pads tend to be sold by length rather than by strength.

Pantyliners are also available but please be aware that these are much smaller and thinner than those available overseas. If there is the chance of your period starting while in Japan, it may be a good idea to bring enough to get you through a day or so until you can purchase what you need.

Asking About How to Take Medicine

8. Ichi nichi nankai nomimasuka?/How Many Times A Day Do I Take This?

[ichi nichi nankai nomimaska]

Take the medicine as directed and you’re sure to feel better soon.

Ichi nichi nikai/Twice a day
[ichi nichi nikai]

Ichi nichi sankai/Three times a day
[ichi nichi sankai]

About International Traveling Insurance

9. Hoken ni haittemasu/I have travel insurance

[hoken ni haittemas]

When you are enrolled in International Travel Insurance, the first thing you should do when going to a hospital is to inform the hospital staff that you're enrolled in insurance. There may be necessary paperwork for you to fill out.

10. Koreo kaite kudasai/Please fill this out

[koreo kaite kudasai]

If there are documents that you need the doctor to write or fill in, say this while handing over the paperwork.

For Pregnant Women

Ninshin shitemasu/I’m pregnant
[ninshin shtemas]

If are pregnant or may be pregnant make sure you tell the doctor or pharmacist before taking any medicine or receiving treatment. If ninshin [ninshin] is too difficult a word to say:

Onaka ni akachan ga imasu
[onakani akachanga imas]

will be understood too.

Read also:

A Map of Roppongi For Emergencies
A Helpful Map of Harajuku For Emergencies
A Map of Shinjuku for Emergencies
A Map Of Ginza for Emergencies
A Map of Shibuya for Emergencies
Maps to Ueno’s Hospitals, Evacuation Shelters, and Smoking Areas
Useful Maps to Asakusa's Hospitals, Evacuation Areas, and More!


1. Guai ga warui desu
[guaiga warui des]

2. Doragu sutoa wa doko desu ka?
[dorack stoawa doko deska]

3. Atama ga itai desu
[atamaga itai des]

4. Kaze desu/netsu desu
[kaze des][netsu des]

5. Hana ga demasu
[hanaga demas]

6. Geri desu
[geri des]

7. Seiritsu desu
[se:ri tsu: des]

8. Ichi nichi nan kai nomimasu ka?
[ichi nichi nankai nomimaska]

9. Hoken ni haittemasu
[hoken ni haittemas]

10. Kore o kaite kudasai
[koreo kaite kudasai]

How did you do? Getting sick while on vacation is no fun, but if you stay calm and take the advice the doctor or pharmacist gives you, you’re sure to feel better soon. Then you can get back out there and see more of Japan!

Read also:

Basic Information about Japanese Pronunciation and Polite Speech
Basic Japanese Phrases You Can Use While In Japan!
Ask For Directions In Japanese! 14 Phrases You Need To Know
Thank You! 7 Japanese Phrases To Express Your Gratitude
13 Japanese Phrases For Shopping In Japan
13 Japanese Phrases You Can Use At Restaurants
10 Japanese Phrases You Can Use At A Hotel
10 Japanese Phrases To Use At Museums And Sightseeing Spots
14 Japanese Phrases To Use When You Run Into Trouble

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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