Taking your baby to ER in Japan

This morning brought a rite of passage that we could have happily put off for another few years: taking our 7-month-old baby to the Emergency Room (ER).

If you need to take your baby to the ER in Japan, here are some things to keep in mind. 

Remember your documents

At the Japanese Red Cross Medical Centre (Nisseki hospital)’s ER Reception desk we were asked to provide Baby Hope’s:

  • Nisseki Hospital card
  • Japanese Health Insurance card
  • Children’s Medical Care Card (kodomo iryo-sho 子ども医療証)

Without these, the admission procedure would have taken longer and we may have had to pay for a portion of the treatment. (We did not pay. Our local authority covers costs so our baby can receive basic medical treatment and medicine, free of charge).

Take a reclining buggy

About an hour after we arrived at the hospital, just before having an initial check with a general ER doctor, Hope fell asleep in her buggy. Wheeling her flat on her back into the consultation room, we were told not to wake her; the doctor was able to perform his basic tests and make an assessment (that we should meet with a pediatric specialist) while she slept.

We saw a baby in a carrier having to be woken up to have her temperature taken, so the buggy was definitely a winner.

Take spare clothes

As a nurse approached to take Hope’s temperature in the ER waiting area, the baby vomited. I escaped unscathed, but Hope needed a change of clothes. Between seeing a second doctor and waiting for our prescription, Hope vomited again – this time ALL over me, herself, our seat and the floor, requiring a complete change of clothes for us both.

We provided some spotted and stripey entertainment for the other patients.

Be prepared to see more than one person

As with most official procedures in Japan, you can expect to visit a number of different “windows” and tell your story more than once.

We saw:

  • Receptionist (took our ID cards and asked us to outline Hope’s symptoms on an information sheet – in English)
  • Nurse (took Hope’s temperature and asked us to confirm verbally the details on our sheet)
  • General ER doctor (did an initial consultation, checking Hope’s breathing, stomach condition, etc for about 10 minutes)
  • Pediatric specialist (diagnosed Hope with a stomach virus, ruled out emergency conditions, and answered our questions, for about 5 minutes)
  • Pharmacist (delivered Hope’s medicine through an “out of hours” window across from the ER, within 4 minutes).

All of the above was done for free, under Japan’s National Health Service.


After two hours, our little one was diagnosed with a stomach virus and is, thankfully, now on the mend.

Ideally, you will never need to use this basic guide to ER in Japan, but I hope it could be useful if the time did come.

More information

Japanese Red Cross Medical Centre (Nisseki Hospital)
4-1-22 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku,
Tokyo, 150-8935
TEL: 03-3400-1311
Website HERE

For emergencies in Japan, call 119

Tokyo ER information HERE