Visiting the Kobe University Medical Center

※ This article discusses an event from Thursday, the 8th of June 2017.

Unlike Austria, universities in Japan have a medical center on their own. If you are a student of the university and feel sick in any way, you have to go to the medical center. Also as a resident of the dormitory administered by the university, if you feel sick, you have to contact the universities' medical center.

Since the training camp in May 2017, my knee hurts. However, I decided against going there and preferred to rest my leg as good as possible. Right now, it hurts only little and on Saturday, I will try doing Aikidō again. After my first exam this week (Japanese composition on Tuesday), my throat began to hurt. Today the rainy season began and people are turning on and off the air conditioner often, because the high humidity makes you feel sweaty and at the same time, the air is actually cold. So people have a different opinion on the perceived temperature. Anyhow, during the exam the air conditioner blew extraordinarily hot air and I was the last student finishing. So my throat got dry and ever since that, my throat hurts a little. I think this is actually just a consequence of a recent lack of sleep. In average, I sleep about 5-6 hours per day, which is below my Austrian average of little less than 8 hours.

I decided to go to the doctor. On the one hand, I was a little concerned, because the throat only hurts on the left side (to my knowledge, this is uncommon) and on the other hand, to get an idea how the Medical Center works. You have to enter at the north entrance, unlike the west entrance we used for the yearly Medical Checkup. After entering, you push the button to get a ticket just like in an Austrian or Japanese governmental building. A staff member immediately responded and asked me for the matter. I replied with "My throat hurts". She gave me a surgical mask and a clinical thermometer. She asked me for my student card, which she returned very soon. After one minute, 37.1 degrees have been measured. It seemed very professional.

I was asked into a small room. The doctor was sitting in front of the computer and asked me to sit down. After conveying that I prefer English over Japanese, he continued in English. I told him the symptoms and he took a close-up look at my throat. He pointed out that it was red inside and I have a "common cold". "I will give you some drugs. Please wait outside". So apparently that was it and I went back into the waiting area. I got some pills and they informed me about the pill’s schedule. Goodbye.

Overall it took less than 20 minutes and I was wondering about the performance. The beginning was really fine, but the doctor potentially came to premature conclusions. I was not even asked about allergies or other medicines I take. I think these are compulsory questions before prescribing some pills.

The Japanese health care system is considered stable, but a little bit out-dated according to japantimes. It’s main advantage is that the vast majority of people in Japan are covered by health just like in Austria. One well-known difference between Japan and Western countries (Europe and especially the US) is that foreign prescribed medicine is typically much stronger than Japan’s. So painkillers, for example, are weak and the American continued to suffer from toothache after taking the drug. On the other hand, one foreigner with mental health issues was put on extremely heavy drugs to control his anxieties at night. He said he felt like he was drunk all the time and recognizably, he moved much slower. Every movements of his was exhausting to perform for him. I will leave it to the reader to judge on this, but I think the treatment of mental health issues is very different in Japan and other countries.

Coming to a conclusion: The infrastructure is professional, but the medical attention comes very short. From just one encounter, I cannot draw any further conclusions. For students, it is of course convenient to go to universities' Medical Center. Regarding Austrian students, you need to go to the hospital by public transport or if it is not possible, you can call the ambulance.