Beginners Guide: Medical Tourism In Japan


Chiryō (治療) in Japanese, literally translates to a treatment, typically a healing spiritual in nature. The Land of the Rising Sun hardly needs an introduction to the average reader as one of the countries pioneering the inflow of innovative technologies into various market-scenes.


An archipelago of 6852 islands, Japan is home to 126 million people, tenth largest in the world. The East Asian island has the second highest life expectancy in the world, at 84.74 years and the third lowest infant mortality rate. The global life expectancy, in stark contrast is 71 years.Over the last decade, Japan has cultivated a market for medical tourism as a manifestation of their excellent health-care program.


1. Innovative Technology

Japan has long been the brightest name in terms of technological advances and dexterity. Just like a number of other developing or fast developing countries, Japan also jumped onto the medical tourism bandwagon, albeit a little later. But what the Nihonjin, as the residents of the country refer to themselves as, bring to the platter is an incredible array of high-end, sophisticated, ultra-modern and most importantly unparalleled technologies and facilities.

Medical check-ups utilize the latest technology in CT, MRI and PET scans. These state-of-the-art facilities allow detection of cancer in the early stages itself, when it’s very much controllable and curable.A striking new technology called Carbon Ion Radiotherapy, immensely useful to treat early stages of cancer, is available only in six locations across the world, three of them being in Japan.

2. Advanced Cancer Treatment

Japan offers supreme cancer treatment, privy to the effective early-detection and unique treatment facilities. Numerous clinics and hospitals specialize in various forms of treatments of the disease, inclusive of Tokyo’s Cancer Institute Hospital, part of the esteemed Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research. This hospital is now an ultra-modern facility providing expert diagnosis and treatment pertaining to a wide range of forms of the dreaded disease including Gastrointestinal, Urinary, Gynecologic, Lung cancers and various musculoskeletal tumors.

Japan Medical Travel

Japan has made major advancements in the field of cancer treatment, especially in proton or heavy-ion radiotherapy, which minimises the side effects of normal radiotherapy. Source: Phil and Pam Gradwell via


Japanese hospitals provide excellent care and treatment facilities to visiting patients, thus requiring shorter stays and less frequent visits to the overseas facilities.

Hospitals such as Cancer Institute Hospital, National Cancer Center Hospital, Kyoto research hospital and many more offer quality cancer treatment.

3. Comprehensive Medical Care

Owing to the manual dexterity and professional dedication of the Japanese surgeons and medical professionals, Japan is recognized as global top class in various surgical procedures. Whilst boasting an incredibly high success rate for cancer surgeries, many congenital abnormalities are also treated effectively in Japan.

A crucial surgery called lymphadenectomy utilized frequently in cancer treatments in Japan, is now highly regarded globally. Cancer sometimes may metastasize to lymph nodes and cause complications. In this breakthrough surgery procedure, the tumor and the surrounding lymph nodes are removed, thus preventing recurrence of the cancer and ensuring faster recovery. In addition to this, the development of less invasive surgeries and treatments for cancer and other diseases have proven to be significantly important in Japan’s reputation as a fast growing efficient medical destination.

4. Professionalism

The Japanese have a reputation for being extremely hardworking and dedicated; this trait extends to their medical professionalism. The hospitals also provide excellent follow-up facilities and efficient medical services so as to ensure that patients do not have to shuttle back and forth into the country for recursive treatment. The world-class checkup system coupled with the extremely well-trained medical professionals makes for a very well-oiled system.


All components of healthcare facilities in Japan such as consultation, examination, treatment, surgery, patient care and medical care are priced under Japan’s public health insurance standards. Typically, patients in Japan pay about 30% of the actual treatment costs under the regulations under scope of public health insurance.

 According to an OECD report, healthcare spending per capita in Japan is almost equivalent to England, but the five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer patients in Japan is 20 points higher. The survival rate in the United States is a bit lower than in Japan. But, spending in the United States is more than double.

Typically, a complete check-up inclusive of a CT and MRI scan costs up to ¥249,000, which is about 40000 USD. In comparison, the same procedure would cost about 130000 USD in the USA. The extreme technological advancements and professionalism of the Japanese healthcare facilities make it worth every Yen spent.


Facts About Medical Travel in Japan


Japan is mostly popular for the approach and dexterity in oncology. In addition to this, tourists are now heading over to the island country in quest of other treatments like cosmetic surgeries, orthopedics, fertility treatments, cardiology and many more such procedures. Patients are also now turning to alternative methodology treatments being offered in Japan, including traditional medicine and herbal treatments for hair loss, obesity and impotence.

Aromatherapy, wellness-spa therapy and homeopathy treatments are also available all over the four mainland islands. Traditional Chinese medicine and Japanese techniques like Reiki are also very popular amongst visiting patients.

Many tourism companies and the medical tourism department of the Japanese government provides healthcare and medical tours of the numerous hospitals across the country, providing packages and access to various check-up facilities and treatments for a minimal and subsidized fee.


Tourists from many countries like France, Germany, Australia, Canada, Singapore, the UK, and the US can enter for up to 90 days without a visa, and others will require a visa for their 90-days stay.  In 2011, the government introduced a Medical Stay Visa which is valid for up to three years with a maximum stay of 180 days.


Medical Tourism in Japan

Hospitals in Tokyo specialise in non-invasive and robotic procedures which are minimally invasive and require less time to heal. Source: cegoh via


The capital city Tokyo is home to a number of accredited and well-known hospitals, so are Kyoto and Hokkaido. The Hakone hot spring resort is recommended to those interested in exploring alternative treatment facilities. Owing to Japan’s presence in an active tectonic region, hot springs are scattered all over the mainland and many wellness spas and resorts have sprung up around them, once again providing excellent traditional Chinese and Japanese healing methods to interested tourists. A scenic Mt. Fuji also is home to numerous spas and healing centres where the tranquility and breathtaking beauty attracts hordes of people regularly.

Over the last few decades, the Japanese government has taken multiple measures to form a well paced, professional and efficient public healthcare system so as to encourage international medical tourism and with their advancements in robotics and surgical sciences, Japan is finally looking to be the perfect destination in most patients’ diaries.

Interested in getting a medical treatment in Japan? Check out these popular medical tourism hospitals in Japan.

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